RESISTANT GRAPE VARIETIES
The House of Rémy Martin is continually driving viticulture forward in the Charente region.
“The goal is to offer an alternative to Ugni Blanc to the region”
Over the last 15 years, research has been carried out by the Bureau National Interprofessionnal du Cognac (BNIC) and the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE) in order to identify long-term solutions such as varietal innovation and resistant grape varieties. Research is a major tool for meeting these main objectives in the Cognac sector. These new grape varieties, which are tolerant or resistant to the most common annual diseases that affect the vine (mildew and powdery mildew), are obtained by natural hybridization and are a major lever for developing practices that will lead to environmental excellence.
The Rémy Martin Domaines have provided a large test plot (approximately 1 hectare) where four new grape varieties will be planted, and which meet tomorrow’s culture conditions. The challenge lies in testing the durability of their resistance on a large scale and their ability to ensure the desired consistency for the typical wines and eaux-de-vie of the Cognac appellation. This regional approach is part of the Observatory for the Deployment of Disease Resistant Grape Varieties (OSCAR) program in France, led by the INRAE.
Research Engineer, INRAE Bordeaux
At the House of Rémy Martin, we take full advantage of breakthrough technologies on our test plots, so we can evaluate and enhance our knowledge of the vineyard and continue to improve our practices.
“TODAY WE NEED TO BE MORE PRECISE IN TERMS OF VITICULTURAL PRACTICES AND METHODS”
For several years, precision viticulture has been evolving, in particular through the implementation of sensors that perform measurements directly on the vine or grape. These new tools aim to optimize wine-growing performance from a technical (agronomic), economic and environmental point of view.
Since 2017, Rémy Martin has been leading a pioneering initiative in the region, notably through NDVI measurements (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) on a plot of about ten hectares. Thanks to sensors, the vigor of the plant is evaluated with a centimetric precision which provides an extremely accurate picture of plot heterogeneity.
The data serves as the basis for the development of a real decision support tool. Furthermore, the company is working on the development of systems enabling precise mapping on a plot scale based on image analysis for the detection of diseases related to flavescence dorée, for example. In terms of the soil, robotization is another alternative which is being explored at the Rémy Martin Domaines’ test plots, to allow for mechanical weeding under rows. This robot* offers a new alternative for soil maintenance.
PROMOTING BIODIVERSITY: THE EXAMPLE OF WINTER COVER CROPS
Green manure winter cover crops are still rarely used on vineyards in the Charente region. Yet, they hold real agronomic, economic and environmental advantages.
“WINTER COVER CROPS CAN HELP COMBINE PRODUCTIVITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION”
Since 2014 and in partnership with the Chamber of Agriculture of the Charente region, the House of Rémy Martin has been testing different seedlings on its Domaines (species or a combination of species).
The goal is to identify the most interesting cover crops for the soils of Grande and Petite Champagne but also to determine their optimal maintenance method. Initial results showed improvements in both the soil’s structure and nitrogen content.
The implementation of inter-cropping between September and April allows for the creation of a cover crop in autumn and winter, protecting the soil against run-off.
An additional benefit is that root systems improve the soil structure itself through their mechanical action.
These cover crops produce biomass during the vine’s vegetative rest period and recreate biodiversity by harboring floral insects at a time when the floral supply becomes very low. Before the vine starts growing, these covers are crushed and buried to bring organic matter and natural fertilization to the soil.
To promote biodiversity, the House also tests other techniques on its plots: releasing trichograms (small insects) to control pests which affect grapes (budworms), planting hedges and cultivating flower fallows for bees.