Our Stories

Biodynamic Viticulture

Propriétaire Michael Baum, winemaker Emmanuel Sala and agronomic specialist Antoine Lepetit de la Bigne are on a mission to protect Clos Marey-Monge for another three centuries. How? Biodynamic viticulture. It’s the future.

To reconnect Burgundy’s largest monopole with its most ancient roots – a time when Benedictine Monks first preserved the jewels of Clos Marey-Monge with nothing more than a horse and a hoe – the winemaking team have started to transform Clos Marey-Monge into a completely sustainable and biodynamic vineyard, with the aim to be fully converted by 2019.

To assist with the conversion – and to ensure it gets done right – Emmanuel Sala sought to collaborate with Burgundy’s foremost authority on biodynamic viticulture, Antoine Lepetit de la Bigne. After obtaining his Diplôme National d’Oenologue and a Masters degree in Viticulture, Antoine served as eight years as assistant director with Domaine Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet, a pioneer in biodynamic wine production since the 1990s. Antoine now specializes in encouraging and consulting winemakers of the Côte d’Or towards biodynamic production.

It is Antoine’s role to collaborate with Emmanuel Sala to ensure the implementation of the very strict processes that define biodynamics, rules that resonate with Burgundy’s vignerons for their back-to-basics, all-natural methodology. As Antoine has told us: “Biodynamic winemaking will improve the expression and the depth of the terroir of Clos Marey-Monge, within a logical and ecological context. By ploughing and maintaining the amazing soil that is already there – together with our technical know-how of the processes required – we are confident that we will bring about a successful conversion to biodynamic production at Château de Pommard.”

Back To Our Roots: Antoine Lepetit de la Bigne tells us more about biodynamics

“Biodynamic viticulture practices are more in harmony with the laws of nature
and the resulting grape has greater potential.”
Antoine Lepetit de la Bigne, Biodynamic Specialist

The biodynamic conversion of Clos Marey-Monge first began in Summer 2016. This is when the sacred soils of our Simone and Chantrerie plots were introduced to Mickey ; an Auxois cheval de trait. Mickey is an agricultural work horse that tumbles and toils the vineyard’s tender terroirs more delicately than Burgundy’s famous slim vineyard tractors. But biodynamic viticulture ; first developed by Austrian philosopher–scientist Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s ; is so much more than just horse-ploughing soils.

A lot more.

Tumble and Toil:
 Mickey the Auxois horse, hard at work in Clos Marey-Monge

Firstly, all use of systemic chemicals, such as artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides is forbidden. We use only dynamized herbal sprays, created from rainwater and natural material. This spray encourages additional self-defence for the vines against mildew and other diseases. Employing only herbal sprays and traditional composting methods ; such as cow manure fermented in a cow horn. It is better for the environment, the vines and the grapes. However, it increases the stresses for the vineyard team, who can never predict what nature will throw at them.

Out in the Field: 
Whatever gets pruned goes on our biodynamic compost

A studious, and strict, adherence of the four lunar calendar days ; Leaf, Fruit, Flower and Root ; navigates our work with the vines too. According to the lunar calendar, fruit days are the most auspicious days to drink wine. We only do what the moon tells us and when it tells us to do it. By adhering to the mechanics of this collaboration with nature, we are securing the health and vitality of Clos Marey-Monge for many generations to come.

Moon Man: 
Emmanuel studies his lunar calendar 

Lunar Calendar:
 In Tune with the Moon, 2017

While biodynamic viticulture is the best way to achieve the purest expression of the vintage as well as the soils, roots, vines, grapes of Clos Marey-Monge, it also produces tastier wines. “Biodynamic wines just taste better. You can taste the earth’s appreciation in every grape, of this I am confident” says Emmanuel ; who had also implemented biodynamic viticulture in his former job at Domaine Josmeyer in Alsace to much acclaim.

The Future: 
Antoine, Emmanuel and Samuel in Clos Marey-Monge, Harvest 2016

In order to carry out the complex conversion to biodynamic production effectively as possible, Antoine and Emmanuel hope that everyone at the Château has a shared understanding of the responsibility to Clos Marey-Monge to get it right. “This project is an exceptional team-building project and the team here cannot wait to begin this new chapter in the Clos’ already distinguished history. Biodynamic winemaking fits into my perception of what wine can truly accomplish. It incites me to listen to nature ; to fully understand our terroir and the vines, and to retransmit this sensitivity through our wines. When I saw the wall and the clos of Château de Pommard, I was totally convinced that biodynamic was possible here. Everyone here cannot wait to start producing some truly outstanding biodynamic wines in the near-future,” says Emmanuel.

Antoine and Emmanuel expect our first organic vintage will be available in 2022.

Don’t worry, we’ll let you know when it’s ready…

Clos Marey-Monge:
20 hectares – completely biodynamic by 2019