Cave des Coteaux

Cortaillod, Neuchâtel

The vineyard is situated on the slopes of Cortaillod. Facing south, it overlooks Lake Neuchâtel. With other winemakers in the Cave des Coteaux they cultivate 50 hectares composed of different terroirs, which include more than 10 grape varieties which are broken down into a multitude of different clones.

"I can assure you that this is a great job, but every time a customer tells us how much he loves our wine, we are amply rewarded. We are all passionate about winemaking.

"In spring when nature wakes up, we prune each vine. They are cut back hard, the aim being to produce a minimum of fruit for maximum flavour and concentration.

"In summer, the grapes are formed. At this time we make a first selection to keep only the most promising clusters. During this first selection which we call green harvest, we can reduce yield in order to concentrate the components of the grapes. A second pass at veraison allows us to smooth any differences in ripeness and unripe bunches are cut. We follow our vines carefully until autumn. When the harvest time comes we do not even collect 800 grams of grapes per square metre. This is the lowest yield in the DOC. There is not enough to fill a bottle of wine per square metre but this means that we are sure to provide our cellar with grapes fully expressing the originality of its terroir.

"In early autumn we follow the evolution of maturity until optimum harvest time. When mature skin (the skin of berries) is reached and when the maturity index (relation between sugar content and acidity) is ideal, we begin to harvest. At that time I wonder, why do not you come give us a hand with the harvest?

"In winter when nature is asleep, it is time for us to take stock and ask ourselves moot questions. Did I work well during the year? What can I still improve? Will any of the young vines need particular care in the spring? Should I replace the many missing vines of an old area or would it be more appropriate to reconstruct and why not with a new variety? This time of year is the most quiet for us while the cellar is booming.

"Many believe that the terroir is 'the composition of the soil' - it is true but not totally so. Our terroir is the happy marriage between a partially calcareous soil and filtering marked steep slopes which promote the flow of water, plenty of sunshine and nights tempered by the proximity of the lake, our grapes and the loving implementation of our expertise - a blend of methods learnt from our peers and supplemented by our own experiences. Our relatively northerly location ensures slower maturity than in the vineyards to the south.

"These characteristics, combined with a very restrictive policy of production, promote the production of high quality grapes, a reflection of an original character that allows us to make fine wines such as our Oeil-de-Perdrix, a great rosé wine in which we particularly excel."


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