Le Clos de Caveau was the first vineyard of the region to produce organic wine. It began its endeavour to respect the authentic provençal ecosystem before organic farming was recognised and before regulations were in place.
1980: Organic Pioneer
From 1980 Gérard Bungener, father of Henri Bungener, begins to engage with organic farming.
As the first organic vineyard of the region, innovation at Le Clos de Caveau was key, and reactions at the time were mixed. Some believed that insects would eat our crops; others that we would never be able to produce wine; it was even asked if there was alcohol in our wines! At the time, Gérard recommended being discreet to avoid scaring off clients, except our first organic clients who were often in Northern Europe.
It is important to recall that before the war all wines were organic, as were all fruits and vegetables.
In the 1950s, weed killers, pesticides and anti-mold products were created to improve the appearance of fruits and vegetables. These chemicals rapidly became commercialised in more humid regions than ours.
People began to realise that not only did these chemical products destroy micro-organisms' acitivites in the soil, which end up "dying", but they also end up in our food and drinks. Consequently, several movements began to appreciate the benefits of organic farming, starting in Germany, followed by Great Britain. In France, Organic Farming was officially recognised in 1981.
The benefits of our climate:
The "mistral", a dry wind from the north, clears the sky and brings us sun. It protects us from numerous problems which other regions suffer from. Our region, the region of the sun, is therefore particularly suited to organic farming; as demonstrated by the numerous organic farmers of the area.
The advantages of hillside wines:
On the odd occasions when there is no "mistral" but fog instead, risks of mould arise, but this is only in the plain and not at Le Clos.
In the photo we can see that the climate is drier and clearer up on the hill than in the plain.
Moreover, wines from higher altitudes are more concentrated than in the plain, and are therefore known for their quality. When it rains, the finer soil particles travel down the hill: this gives lower yields but much greater quality.
Started in 1991, and further advanced in 2007, it's not until 2012 that the production of organic wines is subject to european regulations for the whole winemaking process. Before this, the labels would include "wine product of grapes from organic farming", however now that the wine making process is also controlled and certified, the phrase "organic wine" is applied. Here at Le Clos de Caveau, we didn't wait to work in this way, since we've been applying these vinification methods for over 35 years.
As you can see, at Le Clos de Caveau we not only follow the european specifications for organic farming, certified by Ecocert and BioSuisse, but we also go beyond.
The present day
Henri continues this organic ethos with the same desire and passion as his father, and he develops this vision with organic vinificaiton, respecting the following conditions:
Cultivation with respect for the plant and the environment
Respect for the biodiversity of wildlife and flora
Balancing of agricultural and ecological areas (banks, hedges, woodland...)
Limiting authorised inputs such as sulfur and copper
Selectively recycling waste
Understanding of the interaction between plants and soil
Respect for the ecosystem including the life of the soil
Organic: in practice
Organic farming requires an authentic mechanical working of the soil; we "décavaillone" the soil, this involves plowing the soil between the vines to eliminate the weeds (no chemical weed killers): "bad" weeds aren't able to survive plowing as their roots are upturned.
When necessary, natural products such as talcum powder, copper, or sulfur, are used to treat humidity problems
No chemical fertilisers: only natural ones such as sheep dung, or sometimes seaweed etc.
Fermentation is started naturally with wild yeasts (i.e. not yeast from laboratories which are tailored to certain aromas). With sulfur levels being minimal, they are low enough to conform to the Ecocert requirements, as well as the stricter Swiss organic farming regulations.
The new european organic logo
The previous french logo