Most of the Arjolle vineyards are situated in a large sedimentary basin, formed some 15 million years ago during the Miocene area. At this period of the Quaternary, the Mediterranean Sea was more extended than today, covering Pouzolles with warm and shallow waters.
The sea reached its highest level some 14 million years ago, a period with deposition of large quantities of sediments rich in clay and sand known as “Molasse”. Large fossil oyster witness the existence of an extended system of lagoons that covered the coast after the first retreat of the sea.
When you dig through the ochre coloured, sandy soil layers of our vineyards like shown in the picture, you’ll quickly reach a hard bedrock layer made of sandstone. When planting a new vineyard, we are mainly interested in soils that result from the natural breakdown of those bedrocks by lichens, moss and annual plants. Nevertheless, before planting, we also tend to improve the agronomic quality of the soils by enhancement of its porosity and resistance to erosion.
There are two ways to achieve this:
- Using a subsoiler or mole plough, which will loosen and break up the soil at depths below the level of a traditional disk harrow. A fast but not durable solution.
- Leaving the future vineyard as fallow land for 7 to 9 years with regular compost supply and installing a plant cover. By the way this will significantly ameliorate microbiological soil activity.
At Arjolle we have chosen the second solution some 6 years ago. Already now we can observe that upper soil layers attained a more crumbly structure, as well as plant roots down to 90 cm.
This type of sedimentary soil is favourable to white grape varieties like Viognier, Sauvignon blanc or Muscat. Thus, we envision to create a new vineyard growing white varieties within the next two or three years.