In the vineyards

The tips of the shoots show that the vine is awakening when the tears of the vine appear heralding the approach of Spring. In fact it is the rising sap which causes these beads to form.

In March the buds appear. They bud down emerges, and this stage is known as the bud break. The emergence of the buds is a delicate period. Spring frosts can destroy the whole crop overnight. If weather conditions are right the vegetation develops very rapidly. The bunches of grapes appear and the first wine-growers carry out their first tasks. The first stage is to disbud the vines, which involves selecting which buds will be left to develop and bear fruit.

The vines develop day after day and it is hard work. Weeds are removed. The first tying in starts. The branches are still fragile and they are carefully place between two wires. As the branches grow the wires are lifted. The flower blossoms in June. Good weather is essential. This is a delicate moment. The harvest depends upon when and the rapidity with which fertilization takes place. The flowers of the different grape varieties do not blossom at the same time. But whatever the grape variety, the wine-growers know that the harvest will start 100 days after the flowering, for things have always been thus.

The cellar’s wine-growers are helped by a technician throughout this delicate ‘green’ period of their work. Preparations are made for the harvest and everything is continually monitored.

In the cellar

The first vatfuls of the new vintage are bottled. Bottling is spread over a period of more than 1 year, depending upon the appellations and the ageing. The bottles are carefully stacked and for our finest produce transported to our outstanding ageing cellar at Culles les Roches.

This is an old railway tunnel at a depth of 680 metres dug into the limestone in the heart of the Cote Chalonnaise. This impressive place meets all the essential prerequisites for ageing wine: a constant temperature of 12°C, 85% humidity and silence...

Our wines could not dream of a better environment in which to age and improve before being tasted.


In the vineyards

Once flowering has occurred the bunches form and then the grapes appear – this is the setting of the vine.

Topping is necessary to limit vegetation and concentrate the sap in the bunches. The first stage is tipping, that normally occurs in June, followed by further more vigorous stage to control the width and height the vine.
The green thinning takes place in July. This increases the sugar, aroma and colour concentration of the fruit and allows yields to be controlled. In addition to this the leaves are stripped off the vines to increase the amount of sunshine the bunches are exposed to and make them more resistant to maladies.

Over the month of August the grapes on the bunches start to change colour one by one. This is the ripening.
It is often said that ‘August makes the wine’. In the last few weeks before the harvest the grapes become more and more fragile. This is the period when hailstorms are to be feared.

In the cellar

The cellarmen carry out the preparations for the harvest, the equipment is cleaned, serviced and tested to make sure everything is ready for the new campaign.
The vinification site is at Buxy. It is made up of 4 vat rooms. Since the 2004 harvest, white and red wines are vinified in our new vat room. Equipped with the very latest technology , one of the key advantages of this new facility is that the colours and aromas can be perfectly extracted for red wines during the delicate maceration process.

The Cave des Vignerons de Buxy regularly invests in its manufacturing plant, whether this be for vinification, ageing or packaging. It is essential that the manufacturing plant be up-to-date and advanced so as to be attuned to market demand.


In the vineyards

In the period before the grape harvest, the technicians inspect all the vines with the wine-growers to gauge the quality of their work, laid out in the specifications set by the cellar. These visits start at the end of August, and give a clear idea of the quantity and quality of the harvest. In this way the quality of the grapes is controlled and the grape harvest can be organised according to the degree of ripeness and the information gathered in the field, which contributes directly to the quality of the wines.
Things speed up in early September.

The harvest banns set the official date for the beginning of the harvest by grape variety and by appellation. However this decision ultimately rests with each wine-grower. Their decision is guided by the sugar and acidity levels of the grapes, and the weather conditions.
As a general rule the harvest starts in the first fortnight in September and goes on for a month of continuous hard work. The grape varieties are harvested separately. Generally Pinot noir is harvested first, then gamay, chardonnay and aligoté.

The harvest is weighed at the receiving bin and examined once again so as to complete the observations carried out in the vineyards, and the alcohol level is estimated.

In the cellar

The pinot noir or the gamay is destalked, and it is the whole fruit – the skin, the pulp and the juice – which is fermented to give red wine. Fermentation starts after 2 or 3 days. The grapes float up to the surface. Twice a day they have to be pushed back down in the bin so that they absorb the juice. This is called pigeage. After being left to ferment for about 15 days, the wine is drawn from the bin and the grapes are crushed. Once the fermentation is complete the wine is left in a vat or else in oak barrels or tuns for malolactic fermentation.

For the vinification of white wines the grapes are crushed straightaway and only the grape juice is left to ferment. The must is left to settle (the must is decanted to separate it from its deposit). Then the alcoholic fermentation starts.

Year after year we do exactly as our forefathers did, perpetuating the traditional vinification of Burgundy wines.


In the vineyards

In early November the vines shed their leaves. The vine then goes into a state of vegetative rest. The wine-growers can now start their preparatory pruning. This is a lengthy and difficult task, and the weather conditions are rarely suitable for working outdoors at this time of the year. In the Cote Chalonnaise and the Mâconnais, GUYOT pruning is used. One spur and one cane bear the fruit. These have to be cut to the right length with the only the number necessary buds so as o ensure that production is controlled. In the past the wine-growers used to prune the vines as of Saint Vincent’s day on 22 January.
Here and there in the landscape smoke rises up from bonfires of vine shoots, this period is known as the tirage des bois. Then at the end of the winter the canes have to be tied. They are bent, entwined and tied with thread. The vine is ready for the new year ahead.

A quality policy has been implemented within each vineyard for the past several years now. Each wine-grower is given growing specifications at the beginning of each campaign. This constitutes a sort of White Paper running through the production conditions that need to be met throughout the year and in which should be noted all work carried out on the vines.

In the cellar

The second or malolactic fermentation normally starts in December and goes on for about a month. Once complete the wine is left to age. This can be for a very brief period for Bourgogne Aligoté, or up to two years for a premier cru. Either this takes place in vats or more frequently in oak tuns or barrels.
The origin of the wood and the age of the barrel are determining factors for the aroma and body of the wine. The barrels are selected from several suppliers so as to add greater complexity to the aroma.

It is important to bear in mind each vintage’s particularities. It is a matter of finding the right approach so that all the subtleties of the wine can be brought out via its colours, odours and aromas. Every year Alain PIERRE, the oenologist for the Cave des Vignerons de Buxy, knows how to reappraise past approaches and cede the upper hand to Nature, allowing the full character of the wine to shine through.