Manincor

Hibernation

Hibernation.

This period of what from the outside appears to be inactivity is of utmost importance, for it enables nature to prepare for the coming vegetation season. The course for the quality of next year’s harvest is set during the seemingly infertile cold months of the year.

By Helmuth Zozin, director of the Manincor wine estate

Our wine year begins straight after the harvest by spraying the vineyards with camomile tea. Actually the most pleasurable treatment for our vines, for it is a pure act of love, a heart-felt ‘Thank you’ without any expectation of being repaid for our efforts. Our intention is to help our vines enter their well-deserved hibernation phase with affection and tenderness.

This period of what from the outside appears to be inactivity is of utmost importance, for it enables nature to prepare for the coming vegetation season. The course for the quality of next year’s harvest is set during the seemingly infertile cold months of the year, given that the cosmos speaks especially intensively to nature via the soil during the clearest nights of December and January. The greatest inner alertness is masked by outer inactivity.

We prune our vines in these weeks with extreme care and attention. It takes our team of ten persons eight weeks to prune our 300,000 vines. This is an extremely delicate task in which a special, almost intimate relationship develops between the farmer and the plant. In principle we only cut two-year-old shoots in order to keep the gash as small as possible. The vine subsequently has no difficulty in healing the wounds itself.

On the one hand this is important to prevent parasites entering into the vine, while on the other hand the sap ducts remain more intact. Sap ducts in a vine are comparable with blood vessels in which our life force circulates. This means that January and February are the best months for pruning vines when external activity is at its lowest. At Manincor the first sites are pruned in the days leading up to the new moon, at a time when plant activity is considerably lower than before the full moon. Dormancy is not always the same and in this respect nature is far more sensitive than one would normally assume.

We have finished pruning by the first days of March, the time when an explosion of vital activity both in the soil and within the plant occurs. Before the vines begin to vegetate we begin spraying the soils in order to boost this vitality. We spray with stinging nettle tea as a stimulant and horn manure as an energiser, both diluted to homeopathic quantities. In contrast with pruning, we apply these treatments in the especially dynamic days before the full moon in order to optimise the fortifying effect.

Consequently the course is set for a good year before the first signs of green appear on the vines. The vines begin the vegetation period fully prepared and brimming with vitality. In the first weeks they concentrate on growth, and then when they flower at the end of May, they venture a harmonious transition to the process of ripening their fruit.

From the flowering onwards the forces of growth slacken visibly and allow the ripening forces to take over, above all around the end of July as the shoots lignify and the berries change colour. At this point we wish our vines to concentrate on ripening the grapes and provide us with top quality, aromatic fruit. This is all clearly visible from April to September, though the basis for holistic health and subsequent high quality fruit is laid during the unspectacular winter months.

At Manincor 2010 has proved a successful year with consistently excellent quality, though the yield overall was a little lower than normal.

Similar to the 2009 vintage our white wines are characterised by multifaceted fruit, a particular gout de terroir and complexity. Compared directly, the 2010s are even more concentrated with more depth without any loss of delicacy.

All in all it has been a good year for red wines, though abundant rainfall in August and September dashed our hopes for a truly great vintage. They are rich in ripe fruit aromas with firm structure and assertive tannins though still velvety and mellow. These are encouraging signs with regard to keeping qualities and the wines are certain to develop further with maturity.

Chardonnay is my personal favourite among the 2010 white wines. I expect a fine 2010 Sophie, full-bodied with a creamy texture and mouth-feel balanced by firm acidity, both tangy and mineral-laden. Among the reds I am still torn between the Pinot Noir, the wine we harvested first, and the very last to be picked, the Cabernet Sauvignon. It already looks probable that there will be both a 2010 Mason di Mason and a Castel Campan.