Pierre-Lazare Ponnelle founded his winery and vineyards in 1870. He developed his business successfully while conducting a number of research projects looking at wine-making processes and understanding fermentation. This led him to collaborate with Louis Pasteur, who at the time lived in Dôle, near Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy.
His sons followed the same career path as Pierre-Lazare Ponnelle and one of his grandsons called Albert decided to create his own entity. Albert started vinifying, cellaring and selling some of the best quality wines in the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits appellations. Louis, his son, took over from Albert and Pierre, Louis’ son is now in charge at Albert Ponnelle. The passion for wine has run through many generations in the Ponnelle family. Albert Ponnelle owns vineyards in Côte de Beaune ‘Village’ and ‘Premier Cru’ and vinifies, ages and bottles other appellations from Burgundy as well.
VITICULTURE & PHILOSOPHY
Vineyard work is done the same way it was done before mechanization and chemical treatments started being used. Hardly any fertilizers are used in the vineyards apart from a little manure. No weed killers are used in order to promote biodiversity; existing plants provide sufficient organic material. The vineyards are plowed using horses, the use of heavy machinery is avoided not to compact the soil.
Organic and bio-dynamic practices are used in all the vineyards, no synthetic molecules or products are used at all to treat the vineyards. A healthy vineyard with no medication resists to diseases by itself, developing its own defense materials. To maintain healthy vines only natural teas made from valerian, garlic, nettle, clay and other plants are used as treatments. Sulfite and copper are avoided as much as possible. Interventions in the vineyard are regulated by the moon calendar. The aim is to promote biodiversity, preserve the plants and the soil in order to obtain healthy and balanced fruits while preserving nature.
The plant will need about 100 days to transform a flower into a mature fruit. Harvest usually takes place around the 15th of September. The grape is the basis for making good wine, it must be ripe, without being over ripe, while having a good level of acidity and phenolic (tannin) maturity. Harvest is done in the cooler hours of the morning and by hand. The fruits are selected before entering the cellar, unsatisfactory fruits are discarded.
Winemaking is the transformation of sugars into alcohol through the fermentation process with the help of yeasts. The must requires about 17g of sugar per liter to produce 1 degree of alcohol.
To make white wines, the bunches are pressed as they arrive in the cellar. The must obtained is then transferred into oak barrels where the fermentation takes place.
The red grape bunches are de-stalked on arrival at the cellar and left to rest on the skins, preferably in wood, for a week or more, depending on the vintage. This phase allows tannin and color extraction from the skin. When the vats have reached a temperature of 18̊ Centigrade, the yeasts come alive and the alcoholic fermentation begins. Fermentation will take 8 to 15 days, with regular punch down to break the crust formed at the top and mix it with the liquid again.
The use of sulfite is kept to the minimum and varies depending on the health condition of the grapes.
The red wines are bottled using gravity, no fining or filtration.