Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Terroir of Chateau Paillas : The soil #1

The soil is often mistaken with terroir. It is its most important component because of chemical and physical properties that will determine minerals and water feed of the vine.

The soil is the result of the transformation of its parent material by erosion (rain, wind, frost, ..), micro-organisms and organic input of the plants it supports.

There are two different types of soil at Chateau Paillas, the first comes from a marine limestone dating from the Jurassic era and specifically the Kimmeridgian time (e.g. found in France in the vineyards of Chablis). It was formed there over 150 million ago (when a wide open sea was covering the current area of Quercy) by deposition and sedimentation of carbonates, mixed with shells of marine organisms.
When the sea receded, 140 million years ago, only covering the north part of the Lot valley, it reveals a large beach as shown by the footprints of dinosaurs discovered in Crayssac, a small village near Cahors.

Then begun natural erode of the rock that goes on nowadays. Because limestone is very hard, its deterioration was done only on a few tens of centimeters as you can see on the picture taken on the road going to Chateau Paillas :
- Below, a layer of cracked limestone (underground thickness reaches several tens of meters).
- On the top, a layer of limestone stones melted with clay where the vine grows (whose thickness is less than one meter).

Clay play an major role as regulator, swelled by water during the rains it returns it to the vines during drought.

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