Blessed by the Gods
Blessed by the Gods
Château Rochebelle, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé, covers 3 hectares of vines in an exceptional setting on the asteriated limestone plateau. The vineyard is planted with 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc and the plants boast an average age of 45 years. The vines face East/South-East and lie at between 85 and 94 metres above river level on gentle slopes that enable the runoff of surface water in the event of heavy rainfall. This gentle gradient combined with the estate's topographical location and the porous nature of the limestone rocks, which absorb excess water like a bottomless pit, allow excellent natural drainage. In dry weather the vine roots use a form of capillary action to draw water from the limestone rocks thereby ensuring a constant yet not over-abundant supply of water to the vines. They receive neither too little nor too much water, limiting any negative effects of hydric stress.
The terroirs at Rochebelle are composed of brown limestone soils (Calcosols) and brown calcic soils (Calcisols) lying on top of the mother rock in varying depths of 30 to 100 cm. These soils are shallow and arid. The asteriated limestone rock prevents the vine roots from growing deeper into the soils which in turn limits the vine's natural tendency for over-vigorous growth. Furthermore, the mineralisation of organic matter on these limestone soils is slow, meaning that the nitrogen supply to the vines is minimal.
These two factors, combined with natural water regulation, are what enables Rochebelle to produce such high quality grapes.
In the current context of meteorological fluctuations, the powerful buffering capacity of this terroir affords a natural protection against extreme weather conditions.
This is why we often say this terroir has been blessed by the Gods!View mapA unique savoir-Faire
It is Rochebelle's history that truly makes it what it is. It has been passed down from generation to generation and its identity continues to be defined by authenticity and the quest for shared pleasure. Our savoir-faire stems from our ability to observe combined with a deeply-engrained intuition, never losing sight of our respect for the family terroir.
In the vineyard at Rochebelle, the vinegrower is like the conductor of an orchestra, closely observing and preserving his terroir whilst cherishing each and every vine stock.
In winter, we prune plant by plant using primarily the mixed and double Guyot pruning systems, adapted in accordance with each vine stock's natural tendency for growth. The density and number of latent buds left on the branch is thus predefined.
In spring, the painstaking vine care tasks are carried out manually and with the utmost care and attention. These include disbudding, secondary bud stripping, removing unwanted shoots right the way up the vine, lifting the wires, de-leafing and crop thinning.
These prophylactic measures are instrumental in supporting the vine's development, right up until the maturation of the noble grapes, and contribute to the quintessential character of Rochebelle's wines.
During the growing season, we work the soil, usually tilling every other vine row, with exclusively mechanical ploughing carried out beneath the row. The combination of aerating the soils and grassing every other row results in the optimum development of microbial flora, which in turn ensures a healthy relationship between the vines and the soils. The high biological quality of the soils is key to preserving the agronomic potential of the terroir.
The aim of these technical processes is to reach the ultimate balance between preserving the soils at Rochebelle and cultivating its vines.
The choice of the harvest dates is an important factor in obtaining optimum ripeness levels in the grapes (technological and phenolic maturity) and is determined by undertaking precise analyses and tasting the fruit.
The harvests are carried out manually and the grapes sorted rigorously. A cold pre-fermentary maceration is followed by alcoholic fermentation at between 20 and 28°C. Gentle and careful extraction over a 3 to 4 week period encourages the development of indigenous bacteria to help trigger malolactic fermentation (a natural disacidification of the wine).
Rochebelle: discretion, rigour and a deep sensitivity.
A signature style!