Advancements in the vineyards have been purposely limited at this very traditional Burgundy producer. Only manure has been used for the last half century which has encouraged wild asparagus to grow amongst the vines. Harvesting is manual, with the domaine opposed to the use of mechanical techniques. The grapes come into the winery with stalks, the first 10 cm of each barrel is filled with grapes which are crushed by foot, the barrel is then topped up with whole bunches and fermentation starts naturally after 2-3 days. Since yeasts are an expression of the individual vintage and vineyard, no artificial yeasts are used. 3-4 times a day the pulp is trodden by foot to further extract colour and flavour. Louis is passionate in his belief that wines vinified with stalks are better; in blind tastings destalked wines start with more colour which rapidly degenerates after 2-3 years in bottle, this cannot be said for Vallet’s wines which retain colour and evolve more gradually.
The wines are left in open top fermenters until the cap sinks, this is the time to decant into 20-30% well toasted new oak (a small percentage compared to most). After 15-20 months the wine is racked, blended and lightly fined. Wines are not filtered but checked by candlelight, then bottled directly from barrel by hand on a cask by cask basis. According to Louis “Burgundy must not be fruity – this is no good for great wine …. Short cask ageing and early bottling are the denaturing of real Burgundy … only a long period in wood, followed by a long period in bottle will produce finesse, breed and elegance”.