For us, wine is a living product. It’s a fruit of the earth, expressed by the vine and the yeasts, and guided by the hand of the winemaker. It is this spirit and philosophy that drives our decisions along the entire journey from vine to wine.
First, we start in the vineyard with organic agriculture, the most obvious choice. Our grapes are untouched by synthetic products and chemicals. This products can disrupt the work of the natural yeasts and can end up in the finished wine. We made this choice for our workers, our environment, and our customers.
Organic farming must be certified by an independent body. Our certification from ECOCERT guarantees our customers that our products were made using organic practices.
Second, for the must (or grape juice) to be transformed into wine, yeast is needed to convert the grape’s sugars into alcohol. There are two ways of introducing yeast into the process. Winemakers can either buy commercial yeasts manufactured by large companies, or they can use the natural yeasts that are endemic to the terroir.
The first method is the more predictable route — bioscience companies manufacture yeasts that first kill off the natural yeasts and go on to ferment the juice, producing in the wine only the flavors for which it was created. Many winemakers go this route because it helps to control the outcome and increases the predictability of the winemaking process.
We have chosen the second route and use natural yeasts in our fermentation process. In doing so, a colony of yeasts made up of different species ferment our grape juice. It’s a riskier process because less efficient yeasts participate in the fermentation. However each species of yeast brings different flavors and complexity to our wine. We adjust the proportion of each yeast strain according to the vats, terroirs and vintages.
Third, we think of biodynamics as a path that encourages us to continually question and explore our viticultural and oenological practices. This method is complex in its approach because it does not provide a recipe for winemaking, just questions. It’s about the ongoing search for more information that can help us improve and bring out the best characteristics of the grape and the wine.
In the vineyard, we are constantly observing, adjusting our agricultural activities. We are trying new approaches, according to how the vines are responding. In the cellar, we avoid harsh winemaking techniques. We also pay attention to magnetic interference, and respect lunar rhythms for racking and bottling.
We received our biodynamic certification from Biodyvin in 2018 and are in the process of being double certified.
Lastly, we consider our use of sulfites. For hundreds of years, sulfites have been the “workhorse” of winemakers. Sulfur is antiseptic, antibacterial, and an antioxidant, and it is used throughout the agri-food sector. At the same time, it can be harmful — in high doses, it is poisonous and at lower doses, it can be responsible for headaches and can block the development of the finest aromas of a wine during its aging.
At Domaine Lombard, we make every effort to minimize the use of sulfur, in order to bring out our wine’s fullest potential. By following strict hygiene standards and manually sorting the harvest, we eliminate the need for sulfur before fermentation. However, we will use sulfites with great care, if the taste of the wine requires it.
The current trend of judging a wine solely by its sulfur content is worrisome to us. We believe a wine should be graded on the full spectrum of taste, terroir, the work of the winemaker, and its external certifications. It’s a trend that diminishes the work of other organic winemakers and the great local wines that have inspired us, and so we choose not to use the label “natural wine.”
We focus instead on environmentally responsible practices, which we believe best expresses the terroir through our wines.