Vines have been grown on the same plots at Château Canon for the last 500 years. On the upper reaches of the plateau the depth of this ochre-coloured, sometimes slightly bluish soil varies from 30 centimetres to 1 metre. The vines’ roots mostly develop and draw their energy from this first layer of soil made up of clay and limestone particles. This soil does not provide the wines with a fundamental hallmark in terms of flavour; it just adds some subtle undertones.
The first stratum
Clay and limestone soil
Formed several million years ago, Château Canon’s land is extremely consistent. The vines thrive, slowly and harmoniously, on a limestone bed with veins of clay. Their roots plunge down into sediment from the depths of time and flourish particularly well in the combination of clay and limestone.
Nourishment for the vines
Saint-Emilion is located on a limestone plateau which gently slopes towards the Dordogne River. A sedimentary tertiary rock of marine origin, starfish limestone arose from decaying organisms similar to starfish. A mineral paradise for vines, this underwater landscape eroded by the sea and the wind bears witness to the forces which formed and sculpted Saint-Emilion’s subsoil millions of years ago.
The second stratum
Starfish limestone subsoil
The bedrock gives wine its characteristic hallmark by a process of transfer to the vines. It acts as a sponge and provides the roots with water as required. Like a buffer, the subsoil allows the plant to develop more slowly and harmoniously. Limestone rock compensates for adverse weather conditions, whether excessive dryness or heavy rainfall. The natural slope of the land improves the soil's drainage. Limestone is a very porous rock containing 30 to 40% water, allowing water to flow through it and also to be stored. It therefore provides vines with a moderate and regular water supply, ensuring constant, gradual and continuous growth. This produces complex, fresh and elegant wines with a vivid colour and delicate nose. They are also distinctive for their precise tannins, persistence and freshness on the palate and remarkable aging potential.
Nourishment for the vines
Underneath Château Canon’s vineyard lies a hidden maze of over 30 kilometres of subterranean passages. This unique phenomenon is a well-kept secret. Some roots grow as deep as 8 metres down through clay-filled cracks in the bedrock. Tectonic movement caused these fissures to slowly fill up. The vines’ rootlets fight their way downwards to a depth of up to 8 metres where, laden with drops of water, they hang from the ceilings of limestone passageways dug by man over the centuries. To get there, visitors must go down several dozen steps beneath the wine cellar, cross a former vault and descend into the bowels of the earth.
30 kilometres of quarries
At this depth here is very little variation in temperature; it remains constantly at around 13°C throughout the year. Humidity levels are high. Used as quarries to excavate stone for building the village of Saint-Emilion and many of the nearby chateaux, its tunnels resembling limestone cathedrals bear witness to Saint-Emilion’s history.