05 Sep WILD THINGS – WE LOVE YOU!
‘Wilding,’ in the ecological sense, means intervention to restore and maximise the richness of ecosystems. The term was coined back in the eighties, but as often happens, it has taken a couple of decades, some well-written books and articles, and TED talks, for Wilding to be introduced into dinner party conversations – and to become reality. And at Les Cinq Filles,we love it!
In champagne, winemakers like myself are not so much ‘wilding,’ but we have been encouraged to adopt more eco-friendly principles in growing our vines. It is now the preferred way, to rely on plant and insect biodiversity to keep pests at bay and use natural organic enrichment for the soils. So, walking through our vineyards, you will see not only vines, but also a wide range of wildflowers and herbs that have been restored to the ecosystem.
The Comité Champagne launched its BIODIV action plan in 2005. Indigenous flora was painstakingly catalogued. The full list includes 356 different varieties – nearly one for every day of the year. Nine feature on the Champagne-Ardenne Red List of endangered species. The plants are classified not only on their appearance and heritage value, but also as creating habitat for beneficial insects.
In response, the champagne industry has embraced the planting of valuable hedgerows on the vineyard slopes, helping along by funding provided for community-based hedge-planting projects. The objective is to improve the agro-ecological infrastructure of vineyards, whilst also helping groundwater management.
After all, the special and complex flavours of lovingly crafted champagne is all about the soil. The terroir of the Champagne region is a priceless heritage and its preservation is vital to the champagne industry and future generations. If only all the world’s agricultural interests valued and protected the soil and natural floral biodiversity in the same way.
So, as part of re-connecting with nature, and having some fun at the same time, I invite you to visit my vineyard on the Côte des Blancs in Champagne, to see how we are restoring the ecosystem around our vines and protecting the ancient soils that are our heritage.
We are always more than happy to explain to our visitors, how our local geology has created the unique taste of terroir in our finely balanced and delicious no-and-low dosage champagne cuvées.
So let us embrace being more ‘wild at heart’ and attuned to not only our own well-being, but also the quality of life of our children and grandchildren, by reintroducing some of the wild things that our ecosystems rely on.
We look forward to welcoming you, amongst the wildflowers of my vineyard.
Basket Press – Contributing Writer, Jo Pearson