This week (Tuesday) we took a nice walk around Gevrey-Chambertin and Morey St.Denis – 10km – only at the very end did I see some vines with the tell-tale signs of herbicide – a shame – but certainly a better result than in Puligny-Montrachet!
Much more interesting were a bunch of areas we saw that looked like giant vegetable patches – the vines almost completely obscured by bean plants (right). I ‘guessed’ (actually with the help of Google Lens!) broad beans – and yes it turns out that they are better known in some other places as fava beans – and very aromatic they were too!
In this case, it was a large parcel of vines in Chambertin Clos de Bèze – and the vines belong to Domaine Bruno Clair* – so I asked what they were up to. It was Edouard Clair (brother of Arthur – and son of Bruno & Isabelle) who kindly sent me this answer:
“In the majority, yes, these are fava beans. We also sowed annual clover and rye – rye only in vines that support it.
We are going to roll flat these plant covers over the next weeks – 100% for the legumes and mid-May for the mixtures with rye.
Our objectives are multiple:
– to add organic matter to the soil
– to provide nitrogen thanks to the legumes
– to cover the ground over the winter & spring which makes it possible to minimize and/or delay the growth of weeds
– after rolling, we will try to keep the straw on the ground, which allows it to be “refreshed” in the summer
– to create porosity in the soil thanks to the ‘galleries’ made by the roots – which will remain after the death of these cover-crops (obviously you must not plough the inter-row in the summer)
– from this we hope for some soil decompaction thanks to those roots
– and to stimulate the diversity of aerial fauna – ‘the rhizosphere…’
That’s it for the summary!”
*I note that, amongst others, Pierre Vincent of Domaine Leflaive in Puligny is also a big fan of planting beans in the vines!