The vineyard : converting to organic agriculture

In 2020, Château Lilian Ladouys has committed to converting the entirety of their vineyards to organic agriculture.

At the moment, 20% of the Lilian Ladouys plots are organically farmed. This year, the family has rubber-stamped this commitment: from 2020 onwards, they are officially in conversion to full organic practice.

Our vines are planted on over 80 hectares of the Cos plateau, along the axis that links Calon Ségur to Lilian Ladouys. They flourish on these soils – gravel topsoil overlaying clay and limestone – that are the appellation’s true geological treasure.

Since the Lorenzetti family bought the property, we have engaged in a massive programme of land consolidation. This has enabled us to create coherent clusters of plots, planted with carefully chosen grape varieties, in the manner of the 19th-century vineyards, and so to recreate the ideal conditions for these vineyards to achieve their full potential.

Key points of our vineyard

ACREAGE

80 hectares

GRAPE VARIETIES

50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc

SOILS

80% de sols graveleux, 20% de sols argilo-calcaires

ENVIRONMENTAL APPROACH

Commitment to organic agriculture, HVE3

Environmental approach

In 2020, Château Lilian Ladouys committed to converting its entire area under vine to organic agriculture. Today, 20% of the plots are farmed organically. By 2023, 100% of the vineyards will be organic, and will also be certified as such.

At Château Lilian Ladouys, we encourage everyone who works on the estate to prioritise the aeration of the soils and the maintenance of their microbial life. By doing this, we have made mycorrhizal networks central to our viticultural approach. By working the soil, we stimulate these microorganisms, which develop in symbiosis with the vines and allow them to extract from the soil all the nutrients they require. We also alternate between farming the soil and planting it with grass, and make use of compost or green manure, and these processes also contribute to the success of our approach. We make use of a compost created especially for us, in a joint venture with a Médoc farm.
In 2018, the effort we had invested in protecting the Estate’s ecosystem and nurturing its terroir were rewarded with HEV (High Environmental Value) certification at Level 3. This, the highest possible level of certification, indicates a viticultural approach that is deeply concerned with the environment and encourages biodiversity.

And, because we want to push our ecological approach further still, Lilian Ladouys also follows the precepts of the Natura 2000 Charter.

These environmental considerations are part of our unswerving determination to ensure that each year, Château Lilian Ladouys produces better wines than the year before.

A vineyard restructured

Creating an outstanding Saint-Estèphe wine begins with selecting the finest terroirs for the blend.

Since 2008 the Domaine has undergone extensive restructuring works in its vineyards. It made the decision to bring the focus back to its finest, primarily gravel terroirs with the objective of taking quality to new levels and producing some of the appellation’s finest wines.

In 2018 the Domaine acquired adjoining parcels from Château Clauzet and Château Tour de Pez, parcels which displayed the ideal characteristics for the new planting strategy at Château Lilian Ladouys. These parcels have taken the surface under vine at the Domaine to 80.5 hectares. The soil composition is now 80% gravel (compared to 67% previously) and 20% clay-limestone (compared to 34% previously).

Owing to this increase in both quality and quantity at the Domaine, the selection process for the first and second wines has become much stricter. The 2008 vintage, which included the grapes harvested from the newly planted parcels, confirmed the success of the new parcel approach with these increasingly distinctive and well-balanced wines.

Craftmanship

Precision is the byword in the vineyards. Man’s hand carries out the same perfectly orchestrated rituals, vintage after vintage.

Pruning, cutting, trellising, binding and sexual confusion techniques are carried out prior to the first tillage. These practices are followed by shoot removal, vine lifting, a second round of shoot removal, careful leaf stripping and, very early on in the year, a second round of vine lifting. Green harvesting is carried out where necessary as well as 4 to 6 cuttings, 4 to 8 tillages and 4 samples are taken in order to assess ripeness levels. This equates to no less than 40 different interventions each year and for each vine stock by our winemakers.

The planting ratio

The planting ratio has been carefully selected in order to provide the most suitable balance for our terroirs: 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc.

Merlot is the predominant varietal and is used in higher proportions at Lilian Ladouys than in other Saint-Estèphe wine domaines. It thrives in these clay-limestone and gravel soils which lend it its incredible freshness. It imparts structure and a sensation of depth to the wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon, the appellation’s emblematic varietal, remains a well loved friend in our newly planted vineyards and is well-suited to the deep gravel, sand and clay soils here. It is used in high proportions in our wines in order to give them their distinctive and complex characters.

Petit Verdot, the traditional Médoc varietal, has achieved excellent results in our newly planted vineyards. It imparts spicy notes and adds a little je-ne-sais-quoi whilst strengthening the wine’s identity.