We joined Bernard Pineau (Sustainable Viticulture Manager at Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouët) in the vineyards. Bernard took us to some of the north-facing slopes in Verzenay and Mailly.
Not only is it harvest time, but it’s also the end of a very difficult growing season. The Champagne region was hit with spring frosts, and heavy summer rains which has led to mildew fungus.
The Chef de Caves Laurent Frenet, who also joined us later, says ‘The best areas are the north and south of the Montagne de Reims, especially the black grapes.” and “…the best quality and quantity are coming from Verzenay, Verzy, Ambonnay and Bouzy this year..”
G.H Mumm currently owns 215 hectares of vineyards in some of the finest terroirs in Champagne which are rated 98% on the champagne quality scale. These micro-terroirs are located in Aÿ, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Verzy, Verzenay, Avize, Cramant and Mailly-Champagne. Mumm makes arrangements, each year, to purchase grapes from independent growers to meet their needs.
Bernard, who heads up the sustainable development objectives for 2030, explains that he has moved away from chemicals “weed control and systematic treatments are over…It’s now all about observation.” He has set up experimental programs in regenerative agriculture in some of their vineyards.
Bernard goes on to say, “we’re looking at the best that can be found among organic, biodynamic and agroforestry techniques.” He wants to reduce chemical inputs without “restricting to organic farming, which is too reliant on copper.”
Bernard goes on to explain that regenerative viticulture has shown to improve sub-surface microbial life, and root health and having a complex system of cover crops with grass and clover ensures that “weeds don’t get a foothold”. These plant covers are planted just after the harvest by direct drill. Bernard goes on to say “This reduces the carbon footprint and keeps carbon in the ground ..keeps the nutrients in the ground.”
“The ground is the motor, and you have to fuel it with (this) with energy”
Bernard and his team’s strategy:
- Fertilizing the ground with natural oils and other natural processes – no herbicides have been used for the past three years;
- Use AI [Bitobot – atomatic care of the grass]; and
- Adapting the ground to global warming.
Bernard Pineau (Sustainable Viticulture Manager at Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouët) clearly states: “Regenerative viticulture is the best model – we are convinced” “It is already working for potato and the cereal industry.”
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