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Climate changes in the vineyards of Cahors? – Interview with Pascal Verhaeghe

Since a couple of years, climate seems to change. What about the climate in Cahors?
Pascal Verhaeghe :Actually, we have noticed some change during the last 10 years. There is more wind and periods of heat and drought are more frequent.

More wind and more heat, is that rather good or bad for viticulture?
PV : It depends. The wind rapidly dries the wines after rainfall. This lowers the risk of fungal infection of the plants and the grapes. Concerning drought and heat, you must help the vines to adapt to these particular conditions.

How to help them?
PV : Compost supply increases the ability of soils to retain water. But that’s not all. You also have to impel the vines to root deeper into the soil.

Vignes Chateau du Cedre Cahors

How can you impel vines to root deeper?
PV : By working the soils. Since years we earth up the soil around the vines in autumn. This earth is pushed back in spring with a special plough, which also cuts roots that grow close to the surface. New roots are growing downwards, deeper into the ground, and you may gain 20 to 30 centimetres of root depth every year.

Which is the effect on the ripening of the grapes?
PV : First off all, we keep it regular, despite climatic hazards. In any case you should avoid disruption of the ripening process during periods of heat. The vines should not suffer and keep its foliage in good shape. Regular water supply is the key to this. In addition, we keep vegetation relatively low, to slow down accumulation of sugar in the grapes and preserve their acidity. This is a little risky, as we have to preserve a good ratio between foliage and fruit for successful ripening.

Do you recover all these efforts in your wines?
PV : Yes we do. First of all regarding the sugar/acidity ratio. Alcohol contents are relatively low, between 13 and 13,5% by vol. and we are delighted about the freshness that remains in our wines. Tannin structures have become more delicate, without loosing power and depth. That’s what great wines live upon: Alcohol for body and power, acidity to make them straight and give length, tannins for structure and longevity.

Thank you Pascal

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