Situated on the foothills of Luberon, the 70-hecatre estate is on a 350-meter elevation, set in a landscape of green oaks and garigues.
The upper soil layers are composed of 60% sandstone and silt, and the bottom layers of clay and limestone, which permits an optimal drainage and the forming of water reserves in the depths.
Grape varietals have been planted in the adapted parcels :
-Whites in the parcels composed mainly of sandstone
-Reds in the parcels composed, in the depths, of clay and limestone
The high elevation of the estate’s soils permits a slower ripening of grapes. Chilly nights lead to a gradual increase in sweetness and allow grapes to demonstrate more finesse, avoiding any excessive ripeness (warm nights heighten the maturity of wines and affect their balance).
PLANTING & ORIENTATION
Back when the new owners of the estate purchased it in 1999, they conducted restructuration of the vineyards: 8 hectares of unhealthy or flawed grapevines were extracted, and 8 new ones were replanted.
Currently, one hectare of land is composed of 4,200 grapevines, and vines are planted 0,90m apart with row spacing at 2,20m.
Each vine is attached to a stake, which provides protection against the mistral wind and a better control over its growth.
Le Château la Dorgonne embraces « Bio-Active »® farming, a method that relies on the observation of nature, its cycle of evolution and the nourishment of the soil, and advocates the harmony between nature and nurturing.
It is our experiences and trials that gave birth to our estate. We explored various terroirs and evaluated many practices before establishing our domain. We also met with many winegrowers and viticulturists and conducted many tastings.
Our quest for quality reflects our very own choices and intuitions which we continuously cultivate and hone until we achieve the optimal farming approach for the Château la Dorgonne.
When does harvest take place? When grapes reach their full maturity and present the right balance between sweetness, acidity and phenolic components.
When aromas are fully developed, this is when harvest begins.
At the end of October, when harvest ends, we practice the “buttage” of vines to prepare them for winter time. The method consists of piling earth around the base of vines, using a plough. Harvesting by hand preserves the quality of grapes. During the sorting phase – conducted both in the vineyards and in the cellars - only the worthy grapes are retained, the others are discarded.
We believe that grapes ripen fully when the balance between all components is reached.
- Sweetness level which determines the level of alcohol
- Acidity level which makes the wine livelier
- The phenolic elements of the skin which enhance the color, the fruitiness and the tannins
- The expression of aromas contained in the pulp
- Glycerol which makes the wine full-bodied and accentuates the mouthfeel
Hand harvesting is done one parcel and one variety at a time. Over 21 people participate in the harvest: 10 of them are in charge of cutting, 2 of them handle carrying, 1 is the tractor driver, 1 unloads bins into the tractor, 5 are in charge of sorting, 1 person carries the bins to the cellar, and 1 is in charge of the cellar.
The harvest requires about one month of work. Those in charge of reaping collect the clusters and place them in 28-kg bins. These are brought to the cellar where the clusters are unloaded on a conveyor belt, ready to be sorted. 5 workers sort the clusters, and only the ripe berries are retained. The wines of Château de la Dorgonne are hand-sorted, one berry at a time.
Approximately 28 hectares of crop require almost 570 hours of picking and 260 hours of sorting. About 100 tons are picked which amounts to 650 hl after sorting. An average yield of 23 hl per hectare, which equates to 20 hl for whites and reds, 25 hl for rosés. The berries selected on the sorting table are then poured into the press where they are destemmed (removal of the stems) and crushed (breaking of the skin to allow the juice to drain).
This is how a new vintage wine takes shape.