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Vinification without sulphites

The year 2018 was rich in experiments with the use of amphorae for aging and the semi of mustard seeds in the vines for its nematicidal effect.

We continued in 2019 with the launch of sulphite-free vinification. First, on a single cuvée, our Savigny-Lès-Beaune, then on 3 cuvées in 2020: Côte de Nuits-Villages, Savigny-Lès-Beaune and Volnay. We will go to 6-7 cuvées in 2021 to finally arrive at all the appellations in 2022.

First of all, we must differentiate between “wines without sulphites”, in which no addition of sulphites is carried out, from “vinification without sulphites”, where sulphites are added after malolactic fermentation in very low doses. And that’s what we’re talking about, but we’ll come back to sulphite levels later.

During the vinification we therefore do not add sulphites. Sulphites have very important antioxidant and antiseptic roles. To compensate for this, we use bioprotection, for the antiseptic role, coupled with inerting, for the antioxidant role. The principle of bioprotection consists in occupying the environment, as soon as it is harvested, with known microorganisms (addition of non-saccharomyces yeasts at low doses) which make it possible to contain undesirable populations. Bioprotection respects the native flora, but keeps it under control. These yeasts do not compete with indigenous yeasts and therefore allow fermentation to start naturally as soon as the cold maceration is completed.

The advantages of sulphite-free vinification with bioprotection are as follows:

– Only a very little risk of deviation
– More richness, more depth and less bitterness in the wines
– More aromatic complexity, by preserving the natural enzymatic systems of the grape and preserving native microflora.
– Aromatic purity: less negative sulfur compounds

Once the malolactic fermentation is finished, we therefore add sulphites in very small quantities. Removing the sulphites after the malolactic fermentation for aging and even more before bottling is far too delicate and greatly increases the risk of deviations.

Finally, let’s take a look at the sulphite content once the wine is bottled. Here are the maximum authorized sulphite levels (mg/L) according to the labels for red wines.

– European regulation : 160
– Nature et Progrès : 70
– Demeter : 70
– FNIVAB : 100
– Biodyvin : 80
– Charte de l’AVN : 30

On our cuvées with sulphites we are on average at 50-60 mg/L and on the first cuvée in vinification without sulphites that we bottled at the end of 2020 we are at 15 mg/L.

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