the following text we would like to explain our approach, the
philosophy behind our work. This approach is neither "more"
nor "less" respectable than another, it is simply
ours. We want our work to be more in line with nature and with
the health of our planet.
A conversion to organic wining demands reflection, for we need
to be sure that either environment and wine consumer benefit
from the accomplished changes.
grass grown vineyard, ploughed every second row:
the sixties a lot of vineyards are chemically weeded for 100%.
Weed is destroyed with herbicides. Unfortunately this is still
a major practice in France.
In the Autumn of 1998 we wished to counter erosion and make
a first step in the direction of a growing respect of the environment.
We started to grow grass in the middle of the vine rows.
In 2005 we refined our method and now every second row is grass
grown and every second row is ploughed so that rainwater better
penetrates in the soil.
We also invested in a machine, the "Tournesol" that
ploughs under the vine rows and thus enabled us to reduce the
use of herbicides with 100 % on the parcels older than 4 years.
From September 2009 all our parcels, including the young vines,
will be 100 % herbicide free.
years ago we fixed a spraying machine, which recycles a part
of the spraying product. The inconvenience of this machine is
that we can only use it in Spring, when the green shoots have
just started to grow.
In t h e Spring of 2007 we invested in a sophisticated spraying
system, (see picture). It allows us to spray very precisely
and with small quantities through the whole viticultural season.
For many years we have tried to spray in a responsable way,
a way that would harm the environment as little as possible.
In organic viticulture one may only spray with sulphur and copper.
Copper is a heavy metal that fixes in the soil, which isn't
really that ecological all things considered… For this
reason we did wait so long before starting conversion to organic
Equipped with this high-performance machine, that allows us
to spray very efficiently and to reduce the quantity of sulphur
and copper used, we feel ready to officially start our conversion
to organic viticulture on September 1st, 2009.
soil improvements are thought and done from soil analysis. A
soil that is sound and in balance makes the vines more resistant.
It defends itself better against parasites and needs less spraying.
When is wine organic?
is not really a protocol for organic wine. It simply has to
be made from organically grown grapes and needs to follow the
general processing standards for winemaking Reading regulation
about organic wine (from the grape-harvest) we notice that the
Mas d'Intras wines are respecting this since a long time yet.
However it is essential to have confidence in the vintner. Therefore
a certification as organic winery is like a guarantee for those
that don't know him. Certain wines, especially "marketing"
wines from the "new world", are made with use of all
kinds of legally authorised subterfuges in order to bring unbalanced
wine back in balance. I sometimes taste these industrial wines
to satisfy my cultural curiosity, but I think these wines are
first pay attention to the grapes, then to the wine:
we decide to harvest a field, we have consistently tasted the
grapes and had them analysed by our œnologist in his laboratory.
We know exactly why and when we should harvest each parcel.
From the grapes we make natural wine with the alcohol- sugar
balance of the day of harvest. We do not add tartaric acid and
grape sugar is added only rarely (e.g. in some 1993 and 2002
vintage years) and only under strict control of the customs.
We add as little sulphite as possible. For that reason our manufacturing
has to be clean and needs to be analysed regularly. There is
an authorized maximum of sulphite and an obligatory minimum.
We have always aimed the minimum quantity.
We also omitted Métatartrique Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Gum-Arabic,
Citric Acid, which is commonly added at the bottling.
Finally, we want our red wines to preserve all their qualities
and do not filter nor fine them anymore. Therefore they may
present some natural deposit.
For all these reasons we can state that our wine will not change
after 2009. The fact to be offially certified as organic winery
will not change anything to our way of working in the cellar,
which is already adapted to 'organic' wining since more than
What else can we do?
a responsable behaviour towards the environment is a matter
of observation, reflection and conscience. We should not leave
to change our habits there where we can. Financially it is impossible
to change everything at once, so let's move forward by making
baby steps in the right direction.
September is cold, we will need to warm the grapes a little
before fermentation. For the malolactic fermentation (the second
fermentation of the wine, after the pressing of the grapes)
the temperature of the wine generally needs to stay between
20/25°C. This demands a considerable use of power from October
In 2003 we made a connection between our house and the cellar.
We could store our old explosion machine (in all honesty: a
dangerous piece of equipment) in the attic. The sun gives us
all the energy needed for heating the tanks. It is of great
convenience and a real pleasure to open up the butterfly-valves
to the tanks, to start up the pump and to feel the solar heat
gently and lovingly warm the grapes ...
use of "feather -weight" bottles:
bottles weigh 300g (lightened bottle) in stead 550g (traditional
bottle = most used). Nowadays the heavier bottle is for aesthetic
reasons most used.
It seems to me that the 300g bottles that we are actually using
are strong and efficient enough for single use.
In my relatively small car and trailer with maximum load of
3,5 tons, I can transport 3330 of full bottles of the model
we use compared to 2690 of the "traditional" type.
This means that with the same petrol consumption I can load
640 more bottles!
In addition to that 250g x 3330 = 832 Kg less glass has been
used for those 3330 bottles!!!
Therefore in one year,
in a small family estate as ours that
makes a saving of more than 30 tons of glass !!!
Think of all the power that is needed
to produce these 30 tons of glass on the one hand and to transport
them on the other hand and to finally recycle them!
MUnfortunately these aspects do not count for the certifying
as organic wine grower and that's a pity!
The reuse of bottles:
theory we could reuse those bottles… but that means that
all those empty bottles would need to be gathered and transported
again by HGV from the place where the wine was consumed towards
Intras. Then we would need some disinfection product that could
eventually damage the environment and without the guarantee
that no trace will stay behind in the bottles. Or we could use
boiling water but therefore we would need lots of power.
I think it is preferable to use all this energy to collect the
bottles locally, for recycling. The extreme heat necessary for
the manufacture of new bottles is the only security that a bottle
use of natural corks:
use natural corks. These are expensive but respect the philosophy
of wine and also support the essential maintainence of the Portuguese
woods. Moreover, it avoids the pollution caused by plastic corks.
The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) made a plea to vintners in 2002
and 2006, asking them to privilege the use of natural corks.
Through the massive use of plastic corks, the production zones
of natural cork are disappearing and with them their biodiversity
of wine boxes:
you for returning us empty boxes without damage. We reuse them!
wine delivery rounds take us as far as Denmark and are quite
costly in terms of diesel oil. Little by little though we manage
to reduce our CO2 emissions thanks to public transports. My
van often stays in Paris or in Germany and I get back to it
with the train. The wine is send by means of haulage, which
is less demanding in energy.
you like to share your opinion?
Don't you agree or do you maybe have suggestions?
Then please write me. I'm looking forward to every reaction
and I'll respond personally:
this text as PDF (300 Ko).