DOMAINE DU PECH is a Biodynamic estate vineyard and winery in the Buzet region of South West France. Domaine du Pech’s vines surround the winery on a hill or ‘pech’ in local dialect.

FOUNDER OWNERS Magali Tissot (a cousin of Stéphane Tissot in the Jura) and her partner Ludovic Bonnelle.

VINEYARDS 2013 There are 17 hectares (42 acres). Magali told me on 13 Feb 2013 there was a single hectare of Sauvignon Blanc and 16 hectares (acres) for red. Here is the breakdown:

– Merlot: 3 hectares (7.4 acres) on ‘graves roulées de la Garonne’. Used for the Badinerie Rouge.

– Merlot: 4 hectares (9.9 acres) on ‘sol argileux à argilo calcaire.’ Used for Domaine du Pech Rouge.

– Cabernet Franc: 2 hectares (4.9 acres) on ‘graves roulées de la Garonne.’ Used for Badinerie Rouge.

– Cabernet Franc: 3 hectares (7.4 acres) on ‘argilo limoneux à argilo calcaire’. Used for Domaine du Pech Rouge.

– Cabernet Sauvignon: 0,5 hectares (1.2 acres) on ‘argilo calcaire .’ Used for Badinerie rouge.

– Cabernet Sauvignon: 0.5 hectares (1.2 acres) on ‘graves roulées de la Garonne.’ Used for Badinerie Rouge.

– Cabernet Sauvignon: 3 hectares (7.4 acres) on ‘limono argileux à argiles profondes.’ Used for Domaine du pech Rouge.

– Sauvignon Blanc: 1 hectares (2.47 acres) on ‘argilo calcaire avec incrustations de quartz.’ Used for Badinerie Blanc.

BIODYNAMICS Conventional practices were used from 1978 under Daniel Tissot. When he died in 1997 his daughter Magali took over, and she continued to farm conventionally. In 2000 the estate adopted IPM, with a view to working more ecologically. 2003 was the ‘year of transition’ says Magalie, and she and Ludovic Bonnelle worked to reduce levels of copper and sulfur. In 2003 all wines were hand picked for the first time. In 2004 biodynamic methods were used for the first time.

DYNAMISER Magalie Tissot says ‘our dynamiser is made of wood because we feel it is inert and won’t interfere with the processes and energies dynamisation confers on the liquid being stirred. With copper there is a risk of electro-chemical interference. With cement one never knows which materials have been used in the mix. For us, wood has an inherent nobility in fact. Our dynamizer has a capacity of 500 litres, which means 200 litres of liquid can be stirred at any one time.’

HORN MANURE 500 or PREPARED HORN MANURE 500P Regarding the choice of horn preparations Ludovic Bonnelle says ‘Pour ce qui est de la 500 ou de la 500P, je ne comprends pas bien les polémiques en cours. La 500P a été mise en place par Podolinsky en Australie je crois, et donc en zone climatique très sèche. Nous utilisons donc les 500 en année climatique avec printemps et automne normaux, et la 500P lorqsu’il nous semble que nous sommes dans une année climatique difficile sur le plan de la pluviométrie et donc de la réserve en eau des sols,’ says Ludovic.

PLANT-BASED SPRAYS Regarding plant teas Ludovic says ‘We use lots of fresh teas and liquid manures. They are a cornerstone of our biodynamic approach. We make them ourselves using plants we find growing wild on the vineyard or from purchased dried plants which were grown biodynamically. We use 30 grammes of dried material per hectare for a single treatment. We use teas and liquid manures during the vegetative period to reinforce the vine’s own self-defence mechanisms, to prevent illnesses developing. This has allowed us to reduce by 50-60% the amount of sulfur and copper sulphate we employed when farming organically. Plant teas also help vines cope with periods of climatic stress like rain or cold. We are subject to both Atlantic and Mediterranean climatic influences here, so climatic conditions can vary greatly from year to year. This means we must be flexible in how we farm the vines.’

COMPOST Regarding compost Ludovic says ‘Until now we have used neither Maria Thun’s barrel compost nor piles of compost on our vineyard. We think they are incompatible with vine growing. Vines are creeping plants whose natural habitat is the edge of large forests, area where organic matter is created and is incoporated naturally by worms and other organisms. We are trying to re-create this type of system in our vineyards. By reincorporating the wood pruned off from the vines each year we really reduce to the absolute minimum the annual loss of nutrients from the vine (via its grape juice as wine). We use the ramial chipped wood system, chipping the vine prunings to form a mulch on the soil between the vine row whilst allowing native plants to flourish. This prevents the soil from being damaged by direct sunlight and its potential burning effect, and this also protects the soil micro-biology. See soil management immediately below.

SOIL MANAGEMENT Native grasses and other wild plants are allowed to grow, and flower in every other row, the aim being to allow populations of beneficial insects to establish. The wild sward is very lightly ploughed in so as not to force the topsoil into the subsoil. The wild plants are also used to make plant-based sprays to be used on the vines. The various types of plants which grow also allow the owners to ‘read’ the health of their soils. The soil in vineyards with clay-loam and in the tractor-driven rows designated for that year (the driving row) is sub-soiled to 60 cm (2 feet), meaning it is lifted, but not turned over. This gets air into the soil, allowing soil microbiology and the wild sward to re-establish.

VINE DENISTY, TRELLISING The vine density is 4,000 vines per hectare. The vines are trellised at a height of 2 metres, to reduce the need for trimming.

YIELDS Debudding is effected in spring to control yields. Vines for La Badinerie are thinned before flowering, and those for Domaine du Pech are thinned before fruit set. Green harvesting is not practiced.

CERTIFICATION 2008 First vintage with full organic certification. 2010 First vintage with full Demeter Biodynamic certification. 2013 Still Demeter-certified.

WINEMAKING Hand picking into boxes holding only 10kgs of grape to avoid grapes being squashed or split. Sulfur dioxide has not been used since 2001. Four Taransaud wooden vats, plus older foudres, demi-muids (600-litre). All the wines are raised in wood.

WHITE WINES

LA BADINERIE DU PECH BLANC Sauvignon Blanc. 2005 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Skin contact. Fermented and aged in demi-muids, unsulfited, for 14 months. Then aged in tank. MLF. Unfined. Unfiltered. Bottled with no added sulfur. 17g residual sugar. 2011 Destemmed. On skins for three days to pick up tannin (= protection against oxidation needed for No Added Sulfite wines). The run off, and press. Juice to demi-muids. 14m in oak, 18m in fibreglass. Lots of nice citrus fruit and texture at the Real Wine Fair in Tobacco Dock 17-18th April 2016.

LA BADINIERE 2014 Badinière QV Blanc 1 momnth on skins. Cloudy, rich, bit oxidised at Real Wine Fair 7th May 2017.

RED WINES

JARNICOTON 2004 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cab Sauv. Steel. Short cuvaison of 8-10 days. 2006 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. 2014 Bit of funk and brett at the Real Wine Fair in Tobacco Dock 17-18th April 2016.

LE PECH ABUSE Once bottled as an Buzet Rouge AOC, but now sold as Vin de France. 2004 33% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 30 months in foudres de chêne of 10,000 litres, half are 200 years old and half new. Unsulfited. 2005 No sulfur dioxide was added during ageing (4-5 years in oak vats). Bottled with 2 mg of sulfur dioxide as the wine contained 3 g/l residual sugar. Very good fruit and SW France tannin, bright but deep so not heavy at Return to Terroir, Melbourne 15th March 2011. 2006 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. A more ‘Atlantic year’. Lighter and spikier than 2005, nice brick leather flavours at Return to Terroir, Melbourne 15th March 2011.

LA PECH BADIN ROUGE Made in 2005 and 2007. Varietal wines. Fermented in conical-shaped wooden vats for 20-30 days. Foot-trodden. Aged at least 24 months on the lees in demi-muids on the lees. Unfiltered. 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Contained 15g residual sugar.

LA BADINERIE DU PECH ROUGE 2006 50% Cabernet Franc, 45% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Coup de cœur du Gault Millau. Delicious, ripe and clear, refreshing and dense at Return to Terroir, Melbourne 15th March 2011.

CONTACT Domaine du Pech, F-47310 Ste-Colombe-en-Bruilhois (Lot et Garonne), France / Tel+33 (0)5.53.67.84.20 / www.domainedupech.com