On the hillside of Jurancon, the vineyards are situated on the upper slopes with different exposures, varying from south (opposite the Midi d'Ossau) to south-east or south-west.
The landscape has an obvious north-south divide, which highlights two different types of exposure on the Chapelle de Rousse:
- Steep, well-exposed slopes at high altitude to the South/South-West
- Very warm circular slopes facing to the East, which benefit from early morning sunshine and are protected from the westerly winds
The native rock is composed of the famous chalky limestone conglomerate of Jurancon. The topsoil is made up of thin layers of sandy clay and silty soils. These are a result of weathering of the rock (conglomerate of Palassou) with its famous "phantom pebbles". These are alternated with accumulated layers of clay, alluvium and sand with the pebbles on top, sometimes in localised patches. The soils are less developed in certain areas and therefore relatively thin, notably on the southern slopes where conglomerate outcrops can be found on the surface.
The diversity of the land, with its numerous geographical faults and important leaching, gives a great variety of different soils which in turn demand different cultivation methods.
On the hills of Jurancon, the vineyards are situated on the upper slopes with different exposures, varying from south (opposite the Midi d'Ossau) to south-east or south-west. In order to control each parcel of vines differently, in 1999 we mapped out all the different soils at Clos Lapeyre, according to the most ancient method ("la Méthode Hérody") By assessing each surface and the depth of each soil, and by analyzing soil samples, we divided the 12 hectares of vineyard into 15 different soil types (amongst which some are inevitably very similar).
The aim of this "map" is to help us to understand how each soil lives and the best type of fertilizer to feed the vines, while simultaneously preserving or even improving the current fertility of the soil. No agricultural method should focus solely on the needs of plants in a particular soil to decide on the best overall method of fertilisation, for fear of destroying the soil's natural fertility in the short or long term.
To illustrate, here are some examples of the uses of this "map" with regard to soils:le travail du sol sur les parcelles de moyenne pente et à teneur en argile importante
- Work on the soil of the medium slopes with high clay content
- Working the subsoil after the harvest to ensure adequate drainage
- We add Organic compost that we made and natural calcium compounds
- Stopping the use of synthetic products…
In conclusion, we know that our soils are sufficiently rich in mineral elements but these elements need to be accessible so that the vine can benefit. It is microbial activity that makes these essential nutrients available to the plants. In order to maximize this activity and allow our vines to express the Lapeyre terroir in the most natural way possible, we have cultivated the vines biodynamically for the last few years.