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Initially, the vine

Everything starts within the earth.  Each of our wines are different as they grow in accordance with nature and the generous local climate.  The vineyards of Chateau Chatain are rooted within a clay-limestone soil and blossom with the aid of rich, warm Gironde sunshine and idyllic local conditions.

Great wines are typically produced by vines aged for at least twenty years.  Our goal is therefore to optimise the productive life of our older vines.  Currently, the average vine age within Chateau Chatain's estate is fifty years, a mature and quality basis for producing fine wines.

We take great care to maintain our vines and that maintenance cycle begins with trimming or “la taille”, upon which depends both the quality of our finished wines as well as the ongoing condition of our lands.

Too many buds on a vine result in too many grapes and corresponding vine growth, often leading to an unripe and 'weak' production, so maintaining balanced growth on each vine is essential.

To achieve their best, our vines have effectively two sizes each year, the trimmed and reduced winter size and the 'de-budded' growth stage in Spring.

The soil preparation with traditionnal tractor

Our fields are worked with traditional methods using tractors and equipment which is becoming more and more in tune with their environment.  The earth around the base of our vine stems is manually removed and, later in the year, manually replaced following the cycle of nature. The process is called  'chaussage' and 'déchaussage' and Grey rot is certainly the most difficult affliction however the rigour of our traditional farming methods discourage its development.

The yield of our vines, expressed by their mass in kilos or hectolitres of wine per hectare, is a key factor in achieving quality grapes.  A harvest too-abundant does not adequately ripen as vines struggle to adequately nourish too many grapes.  Accordingly, each specialised appellation proposes production limits to protect final quality.  In Lalande-de-Pomerol, production yield is fixed between fifty and fifty-five hectolitres per hectare.

Finally comes the harvest time!

Fruit of a year of work, the grapes reach maturity. Sugar, acidity, aromas and tannins have developed together in a thin envelope. Still need to study its condition to harvest it at an ideal date: it is in the last days that a good vintage can become big.

Merlot, always early, is the first to pass into the hands of the pickers. Each provides a final sort of clusters, valuable. No hurry for the cabernet, which will not reach maturity at our latitude. This is the reason for its presence in our assembly: it leaves a green side to the harvest and guarantees its longevity.

Epilogue of this intense period of work, our team of harvesters, friends and family members, is found for the gerbaude. Tradition of end of harvest, it is the great convivial and festive meal which closes this first chapter before beginning that of the fermentation.

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In the cellar, the vinification

Here is the grape in our cellar, the transformation into wine can then begin. A transformation that requires patience and demand. Starting with the choice of cooperage. A large part of our barrels come from other castles of the appellation, allowing us excellent health monitoring. These barrels assure us a wine on the fruit, in the respect of the Bordeaux tradition.

During the months of aging of the wine, the barrels are placed "bonde above": the filling orifice is then in vertical position and obstructed by a silicone bung which allows the release of the carbon dioxide accumulated during the fermentations. During this period, there is also a significant loss of wine, both by evaporation, called "angels' share", and wood absorption of the barrels. Wetting is frequent refreshing to avoid the excessive oxidation created by the contact between air and wine.

It is during the fermentation that the grape juice becomes wine. This spontaneous phenomenon was empirically controlled well before being scientifically explained by Louis Pasteur in the XIXth century.

The biochemical transformations brought about by the fermentation are multiple and complex, the best possible conditions propose above all a rigorous control of the temperature, in order to avoid that the heat produced by the fermentation hinders, then ends up destroying the yeasts which are officials. Also by pumping over the must from the bottom to the top of the vat, they promote the dissolution of the grape compounds, as well as small amounts of oxygen necessary for the metabolism of the yeasts.

Once the alcoholic fermentation is finished, the maceration continues until the draining; the wines are then almost "finished". In order to stabilize them, a final biochemical transformation must be accomplished: the fermentation by bacteria of malic acid into lactic acid. It is spontaneous, but does not always trigger easily: the wine must be kept at a temperature of at least 20 ° C for ease.

At the end of the run-off, when the "drop wine" has been collected in the vat and is waiting for its malolactic fermentation to start, the grape skins forming the marc are rinsed and pressed to give the press wine. It is first the smooth handling of the marc that makes it possible to obtain good press wines; as before, their transfer from the tank to the press is manual with the help of an Archimedean screw. It is the quality of the press that really determines the quality of the press wine. Modern technology has not really improved the quality of pressing We are fortunate to have always in our walls a press early twentieth that was electrified in Chatain in the 60s. It ensures a quality of pressing and smooth depth, and this is the test of our patience!

The fulfillment, the wine

The aging in barrels allows the wines that deserve to acquire a harmonious aging potential in bottles. During this period of about twelve months naturally occur a number of physico-chemical transformations that lead to a perfect clarity and stability of the wine, as well as a refinement of its organoleptic characters.

Today the barrels are placed as soon as possible after the completion of fermentations, towards the end of November or the beginning of December. It is almost always in barrels of three years of French oak. The conditions of temperature and humidity that reign in our two cellars follow roughly the rhythm of the seasons: the winter cold favors the precipitation of unstable compounds, thus the stability of the wines, whereas the moderate increase of the temperatures in summer accelerates the chemical reactions and allows the wine to evolve both finesse and suavity.

Few decisions are as important in the life of the wine as the blends, because it is about bringing the wine to life. The assembly is thus first of all a selection operation, but also a creation operation during which several batches merge into a larger whole than the best of the elements that compose it. Indeed, we think about this assembly since the first day we started to taste the result of winemaking carefully separated from each plot. It is only after the setting in barrels that finally arrives this moment. 

After eighteen months of aging, it is bottled that our wine spends the rest of its life. A life that we wish him long, our wine is patient. Ten, twenty, thirty years, sometimes much more before he finally caresses the palate of an amateur. To guarantee success at the tasting, the greatest attention should be given to its storage conditions.

Valorisation, men

It is by the hand of the man that the precious grape is sublimated into a delicate wine. Our role is essential to sound the earth, listen to the weather, watch the wine develop its aromas and ripen on our domain. We are committed to learning and sharpening our know-how more and more to accompany our production towards excellence. A family story that has been transmitted for four generations.

For 45 years, Hugues de La Guéronnière practiced a classic vinification and a long aging of 12 months in oak barrels, respecting the tradition of Bordeaux wines.

His daughter, Christine de La Guéronnière, took over the management of Château Chatain in 2015.

Obviously, our wine would not see the light of day without the precious help of our friends and family who come to share with us the harvest period!

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