Château palmer, Margaux
Hired in late 2017, this native from Listrac came to Château Palmer with nearly twenty years of experience. Yet in renouncing conventional viticulture for biodynamic viticulture today, he now embodies a shift taking place across an entire profession...
What drew you to the wine world?
I was longing for fresh air. After nine years cooped up in a sawmill cutting wood all day long, I missed the great outdoors. In 2000, a colleague told me that a château nearby was looking for applicants to train as vignerons and tractor drivers: I applied. For more than 17 years, I gained an appreciation for the richness of this profession. You never do the same thing the same way twice. All the more so since I was also tending the estate’s gardens on occasion...
What brought you to Château Palmer?
As I’d grown with experience, so had a desire in me to work for a more prestigious château. Since I was also getting older, I was looking for a more “comfortable” terroir. With those clayey soils of Listrac, in rainy weather, you carry an extra kilo on each boot! So I sent a résumé to Château Palmer. They gave me a chance. And so began my training. Before my job involved weeding, I would trim to make it easier for the machines to pass by, and I’d treat the vines with chemicals until I was covered with them...
What exactly is your daily routine like?
Every morning, our group of five vignerons heads off to work in the vineyards. Currently, we’re in the middle of the “Guyot Poussard” pruning. What’s more, we’re working with a plot of young vines that we started training last year. I find this work particularly interesting because it requires a lot of thought. You have to select the right branches, and assess the vigour of each vine. Tomorrow, we will start the acanage or vine training. There is also talk of training us to do manual grafting soon. As I told you, it never gets monotonous here! To say nothing of the weather and its vagaries. But hey, that’s part the job: every vigneron must accept it and, when necessary, stay motivated while waiting for brighter days.
" Today, I let the sheep deal with the weeds, while I weave links between the vines to help optimize their growth, and I pay attention to the cycles of the moon..."
Do you have any hobbies?
Yes, thanks to my son! Rather than sitting around twiddling my thumbs during his archery lessons, I took it up myself four years ago. I’ve improved to the point that I’ve been selected twice now for the French championships, in the hunting category. Aiming at targets as you traverse a course in the woods requires concentration. I enjoy this kind of effort. On the other hand, I’m not a wine lover like many of my colleagues. I don’t drink it, except on rare occasions. Like during the tour of the château I was given after I was hired. It ended with a tasting of Château Palmer 2014. Pure velvet. A memory I’ll hold on to.