In fact, here, no trunks are visible because they are buried in long rows of mounded dirt. The vines are planted en foule, French for "in a crowd," a traditional method until the late 19th century. Unlike modern vineyards, in which each row is made up of many plants, each row of en foule vines at Bollinger comprises just a few plants.
Each year, after grapes are picked from the canes, the canes are bent into a bell shape and planted back in the earth.
Own Rooted vs. Grafted Vines: Which Make Better Wines?
New roots develop, and new canes rise up from the ground. Over time that single vine can stretch the length of an entire row, rising up out of the earth and plunging back in. The vineyard workers need special training. Also, the yield is much lower because the canes develop fewer bunches of grapes.
One more unexpected fact is that the vieilles vignes are not so vieilles. They are replanted regularly. The oldest vines are around 50 years old. At the second vineyard, the rows of en foule vines are sandwiched by conventional-looking rows. These are ungrafted vines, planted in a modern style, Mr. Descotes said, for comparison's sake.
Only 3, to 5, bottles are made in vintage years. But Bollinger declares vintages fairly often, 7 out of 10 years in the 's and 's. Until , the wine from these vineyards went into Bollinger blends. Then Cyril Ray, a British wine writer and fervent Bollinger fan, suggested a separate bottling.
The first commercial vintage was And so to dinner. Bollinger Champagnes are made predominantly from pinot noir, which along with chardonnay and pinot meunier are the only grapes permitted, but only Vieilles Vignes is exclusively pinot noir — a blanc de noirs. Blanc de noirs are rarely as stylish as blanc de blancs, made only from chardonnay grapes, but Mr. View all New York Times newsletters. Champagne, alone among French wine regions, dismisses the importance of terroir and celebrates blending.
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Vieilles Vignes is from a single terroir, a single grape and a single vineyard. Yet it had, spectacularly. It was sedate for a Champagne, the bubbles soft and delicate, the color golden, bordering on amber. It was bone dry and quiet at first, but with a little air, it took on richness. It was still lively, graceful yet intense, with a succulence that comes from good acidity.
The toasty, nutlike flavors were precise and finely etched. This was a profound wine, and though it came from pinot noir, it had the majesty of an old white Burgundy. It's both easy and impossible to know what to make of a wine like this. To be literal-minded, consider the importance that most grape-growers place on selecting the right rootstocks, clones and soils for their wines.
They have a buffet of choices, and they know that the roots on which they choose to graft their vines can play an enormous role in how vigorous the vine is, how it absorbs nutrients and sunlight, and how the grapes ripen. Why wouldn't a vine's own roots also affect the quality of the grapes? But objectivity is often useless with wine.
The same bottle will taste different at a candlelight dinner with your sweetheart than it will, say, in a fluorescent office. It's not a wine. It's the dream of a wine.
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Self-rooted plants are different from many vines seen in BC, in that they are grown from cuttings from older vines that sprout roots and leaves when propagated. We have grown nearly every one of our plants from cuttings to mature vines, something that few other wineries have in common.
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This way, we can select our cuttings from proven hardy, healthy vines that have adapted to the Okanagan climate, and can ensure the quality of the plants from first budding onwards. For this reason we have a unique understanding and attachment to our vines, some of which were started decades ago. Watching each phase has provided us with intimate knowledge of how each plant grows and adapts in the Vineyard.
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