The viticulture approach at Picardy underpins the quality of the wines, as does the Burgundy heritage of the clones.
The Picardy site was specially selected for its high altitude and well-drained loam/gravel soils.
The vines have been close planted to promote competition between vines and maximize root depth.
The vines are trained low to enable them to use heat radiating from the gravely soils in the evenings. This effectively extends the duration of the growing and ripening time per day. Picardy is dry grown and hand picked to maximize fruit quality.
Picardy is very aware of its pristine environment and so undertakes environmentally sustainable practices. To minimize the use of chemicals guinea fowl are used in the vineyard for pest control. Benificial insects are also important to combat pests in the vineyard. Viticultual techniques such as hedging and leaf plucking are undertaken in the entire vineyard to keep maximum air flow through the vine canopy thus minimizing the need for fungicides.
To obtain a naturally healthy soil, cover crops such as clover are used and composted. The clover is grown in the interrows and it works to minimize weed, builds up soil structure and opens up the soil. The clover is later slashed to add mulch to the soil and in turn fertilizing the soil with nitrogen. After pruning, the canes are also mulched and added back to the inter row for mulch. Picardy also practices a no cultivation policy which is beneficial in preserving the soil structure and helps to improve and maintain the worm population in the soil.
All we are doing is going back to practices that were common a 100 years ago. It's not about just taking from the land, it's about giving back too.
The vines are crop thinned prior to harvest every year. This is done in two stages. One to keep the tonnage per acre down to 3 tonnes per acre (some as low as 1.5 tonnes per acre). Then the second crop thinning is to remove the green bunches at verason. This is also to separate and untangle the fruit so it hangs freely from the vine and improves airflow around the bunches.
When we harvest, great care and attention to detail is taken to pick only pristine fruit. The sorting is done in the vineyard so that no extra handling is needed in the winery. The fruit goes straight from the vine to be crushed and fermented with minimal handling and in minimal time. In less than 5 minutes it can be off the vine and in the winery fermenter which is a great advantage to the quality of the fruit.
This approach to viticulture reflects the Pannell's philosophy of being hands-on in every facet of the vineyard and winery process at Picardy.
During Bill and Sandra's involvement in Burgundy in the 1980s, they became aware of a substantial clonal selection trial, which had been carried out for more than a decade.
Several hundred selections of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay taken from many of the Domaines in Burgundy were trialled. Of these, four Chardonnay (76, 95, 96 and 277) and 3 Pinot Noir clones (114, 115 and 777) were selected. These clones were chosen on the basis of the quality of wine produced from them, rather than yield.
Friends in Burgundy advised Bill and Sandra to plant a mix of all of the clones to increase the complexity of the resulting wines.
Observations to date suggest that there is considerable variation among the seven clones with respect to growth habits, bunch size, yields, flavour and wine structure.
The Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are also special selections, chosen with the same emphasis on quality in mind.