When you go through the vineyards in Burgundy one can be amazed how different the vines and vegetation looks on the various plots.
Sometimes one encounter plots with somewhat wild looking vines, where the top branches of the vine are much higher/longer than on the surrounding plots.
These presumably wild growing wines can be encounteret on at least some plots owned by Domaine Leroy/d’Auvenay and on some of the plots owned by Domaine Hubert Lamy.
The picture below show the d’Auvernay plot on Criots-Batard-Montrachet, where the long top branches are visible.
And below a photo from the top of the Hubert Lamy plot in Criots-Batard-Montrachet .. notice the difference when comparing with the neighbouring plot to the right.
So why are these very competent and innovative vignerons not pruning the top branches on the vine?
Weaving or braiding a great wine
The idea behind maintaining the top branches, and letting them grow is that the vine will continue to channel energy to the top branches, thus channeling less to the leaves, grapes and lower branches of the vine.
The result is smaller and more aromatic grapes, and furthermore the grapes sometimes have better conditions, as the density of the vegetation on the side of the vines is reduced when less energy is allocated to the lower branches of the wine.
There is however one problem, the long top branches of the vine will eventually block some of the sunlight, thus potentially reducing the ripeness of the grapes.
This is solved by braiding or weaving the top branches, thus keeping them low, without cutting them – this process is illustrated on the photos below.
Lastly a photo before (right side of photo) and after the weaving (left side of the photo).
As the photos from Domaine Hubert Lamy show, the weaving is a manual and quite labour intensive process.
The effect on the quality is however positive according to Olivier Lamy, so well wort the effort at least on the top wines.