There is not much on the internet about this pruning system, but since it is known to come out on the WSET Unit 5 exam, I thought I could summarize some of the findings and try to explain it in the simplest way possible. Since I am no viticulturist take this post with a grain of salt.
First, the picture:
Another image (this has also labels):
Developed in Chablis, it is now mostly used in Champagne, particularly for Chardonnay (over 90% of the plantings).
Taille chablis is a bush vine system with a low stump from where the arms of the vine depart in a kind of fan shape. The first arm is called rachet and is a short spur with two buds which will not bear fruit in the current season, but will grow sprigs to use in the next one. The second is called lancement and is the development of last year rachet, a fruitful shoot bearing five buds. Then we have one to four older branches composed by two parts: a lower part called charpent (originally a lancement), made by wood more than one year old, and a higher fruitful part called prolongement with five buds. The following year the prologement will be more than one year old and become part of the charpent. The branches must be at least 30cm apart from each other.
When the charpent becomes too long, “invading” the space of the neighbouring plant, it is cut altogether.
- It retains a good percentage of old wood, but at the same time the cordons are always relatively young. This allows on one hand the storage of reserve carbohydrates for the plant, on the other it guarantees more resistance to frost. Furthermore the constant replacement of the older wood may prevent infections and diseases to become established.
- It is particularly good for Chardonnay: it is common for this variety to have the first two buds on the shoots unfruitful, thus the remaining three assures an adequate harvest.
- It requires a certain degree of skill and experience for pruning.
- More time consuming than guyot.