The vines at Château d’Issan benefit from close, on-going care designed to produce perfectly ripe grapes. Everything is organised so that each individual plot can be tended independently in order to get the very best out of its fruit. In winter, the specific Medoc pruning method is applied in conjunction with intimate knowledge of the vines to regulate the coming year’s production.
In spring, traditional tilling is carried out, improving air and water circulation thereby ensuring that activity in the soil starts up again naturally and for maximum benefit. This is followed by desuckering and the elimination of secondary shoots to stimulate ripening of the bunches. The removal of green fruit and leaves ensues and continues on to summer with the aim of ensuring good grape concentration.
When autumn comes round, the grapes are picked by hand. We welcome about a hundred people, half of whom come from Denmark. A partnership for more than ten years with a Danish school has led to a unique level of trust and friendship. The other half of our pickers consists of acquaintances, neighbours, family and friends, so we are relaxed and ready to harvest the crop we have spent all year growing.
As soon as the harvest arrives in the vathouse, we initially sort the bunches, then the grapes are screened a second time on a vibrating table and gravity-fed into separate tanks to preserve the distinctive characteristics of the different plots in the vineyard. We have invested in 37 temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks with capacities from 70 to 200 hectolitres.
The harvest is then vinified and aged applying time-honoured methods and innovative techniques. Vatting lasts from 18 to 24 days, depending on the vintage. During this time, the juice is pumped over, while careful temperature control helps us select the finest tannins and bring out the best in the fruit.
Fermentation takes place in two recently renovated vathouses that are perfectly equipped to vinify the fruit of individual plots. Once made, the wines are transferred to barrels in the cellars, where temperatures are carefully controlled. Blending takes place between January and February under the supervision of Éric Boissenot, our consultant oenologist, Emmanuel Cruse, Éric Pellon our technical director and the cellar master Hervé Bunel.
Together they choose the tanks, which will make the next great wines of Château d’Issan. The long, deliberate 18-month phase of ageing can then commence, in line with the pure Medoc tradition for Grands Crus Classés. Our wines are aged in barrels made of French oak and traditionally racked using a candle every 3 months.