Charles Lachaux, the head of Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux in Vosne-Romanee, is currently amongst the most dynamic viticulturalists in Burgundy. His changes and improvements at the estate are moving forward with incredible speed.
I have therefore decided to follow closely the viticultural progress in one – or perhaps two – of the Lachaux vineyards, to experience and hopefully explain what is happening over the months to come.
Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Procès
NSG Les Procès is a 1er cru located above the village of Nuits, just below the beautiful Chateau Gris.
The Arnoux-Lachaux plot is 0.6337 hectare, and the vines are on average 65 years old. My first visit there was on February 16 in the early afternoon, and I explored the plot just after a tire explosion on my bicycle in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
The parcel is located just above the impressive Faiveley cuverie on the semi-flat – or if you prefer on a mild east-facing slope outside NSG.
As can be seen in the photos above, the vines have not yet been pruned, and are awaiting late winter or early spring for this step. Arnoux-Lachaux prunes later than many estates, preferring March when the moon calendar is right and the sap is rising in the vines.
The vines on 16/02/2021
The vines are ready for pruning, using Arnoux-Lachaux’s “homemade” Gobelet-Poussard pruning method – a modified Guyot-Poussard pruning.
This is a bit complex, so I will have to study it more closely. The photo below shows a newly pruned Gobelet-Poussard vine in the Romanée Saint-Vivant vineyard. We can see two main arms growing off the vine’s trunk, the right-hand one with two canes with buds, and the left-hand with one, meaning six to eight potential shoots. This system helps keep the sap and nutrients flowing from the roots to the new growth through a larger diameter of the trunk, ensuring healthier sapwood and helping to prevent wood-based diseases.
Charles Lachaux’s pruning system contains some different attributes, one being that it will support higher trellising. Furthermore, it supports the more work-intensive Paisseaux canopy (the Burgundian term for echalas trellising: each vine with its own individual stake).
On my next visit I will see how the vines have been pruned in the Gobelet-Poussard style detailed above.
In 2020, Charles opted to prune relatively late, beginning in February and finishing on March 26, following the old Burgundian maxim: “Taille tot, taille tard, rien ne vaut la taille de mars” (Prune early or prune late, nothing’s as good as pruning in March).