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Yquem to convert to biodynamics

The owner of Château d’Yquem, Bernard Arnault, announced this week that the benchmark Sauternes property was to undergo conversion to biodynamic viticulture and St Emilion property Cheval Blanc may follow suit.

Speaking at the Grands Crus Classés en 1855 dinner on the Monday during this Vinexpo week, Arnault told the assembled company of press and other châteaux owners that the storied property was now in very advanced stages of organic farming and the aim was to convert the entirety of the estate to biodynamics in due course.

Arnault said: “In recent years, Yquem has taken decisive steps to achieve a fully organic [level of] viticulutre and, soon, biodynamic.”

According to French site Vitisphere, there is currently an “experimental” parcel of around 50 hectares being treated biodynamically.

It has also been reported by local paper Sud Ouest that Arnault’s other Bordeaux property, Cheval Blanc, may also be converted to biodynamics although estate manager, Pierre Lurton, said it was only a tentative idea at this stage given the danger posed by mildew.

Nonetheless, he added that top estates “must lead by example” when it came to better, more environmentally-friendly farming methods.

At the moment there are several prominent châteaux in Bordeaux being farmed organically or biodynamically.

Château Latour is one high-profile estate that recently – though with little fanfare – became certified as fully organic and many other properties are wholly or at least partly organic as well.

There are some estates that are also dipping their toes in the waters of bidynamism as well but, so far, the only well-known estates to have gone the whole hog are Guiraud in Sauternes, Palmer in Margaux and Pontet-Canet in Pauillac.

This decision has been met with scepticism by some and catastrophic mildew in the 2018 season saw Palmer and Pontet-Canet suffer enormous losses which only deepened the suspicion among doubters that it’s too risky a practice in maritime Aquitaine.

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