Poor soil - the neutral, ready to sing about terroir Chardonnay loves it! As a result of a beautiful serendipity, in Chablis I paid a visit to a winery which name translates exactly like 'poor soil'. Domaine des Malandes and my wine trip to Chablis for your attention below. (You may want to start from my article with an overview of Chablis wine region first :)
The family run Domaine des Malandes
I love wineries with a story behind. To be honest this is what influences my choice while travelling and even while drinking wine. It's not specifically about how 'old' is the winery, how many generations originate from this village... Sometimes it's about rapid development, like at Domaine des Malandes.
Everything started with André and Gabrielle Tremblay and their first harvest in 1949. As I mentioned above, until 60-70's mechanization was minimal and very often spring frosts were leaving almost nothing to harvest.
Amandine, their granddaughter, said that her grandfather was very charismatic and innovative. He brought the first straddle tractors to Chablis - that were lightweight and able to go above the vine rows.
The couple grew their vineyards to 7 ha and Lyne Marchive, Amandine's mother, established Domaine des Malandes in 1973.
She continued extending the vineyards and modernizing the winery, but also traveled a lot and spread the word about Domaine des Malandes all around the world. With only 200 000 bottles a year (a quite low production volume for Chablis region) they have an impressive worldwide sales coverage today.
Organic winemaking in Chablis
Now the winery is managed by Lyne's children - Amandine and Richard. They're now focusing on the next wave of innovation - going organic and preserving the biodiversity of Chablis soils. Amandine told me that in order to do that they have to go out to the vineyard for ploughing and cutting grass three times more than they would if used chemical weedkillers and pesticides. It's much more work, but it pays back on all the fronts:
their workers' stay healthy as they don't have to spray the vines with harmful not only for nature, but for human, chemicals
the environment, soil, biodiversity is preserved and nourished
ploughing encourages grapevine root development, longer roots get more nutrition from the rocks (= minerality) and don't get 'thirsty' during summer heat waves (= acidity)
So even the quality of wine gets higher thanks to chemical-free winegrowing.