Château palmer, Margaux
Over the last five years, this thirty-something has taken part in all the different phases of vinification of every vintage at Château Palmer. It’s an alchemy that fascinates him deeply, almost as much his other passion – metal music.
How did you first come into the wine world?
In a stroller! One day, my father decided to take the family to visit the estate whose Pomerol he’d recently tasted: Château Le Pin. I still remember the experience, particularly being in the winery. I was fascinated by the place. From that point on I was hooked. By the time I reached secondary school I’d already decided to study viticulture, starting at the Lycée Viticole de Blanquefort, then continuing my studies at Château La Tour Blanche in Sauternes and Château Fombrauge in Saint-Émilion. Bit by bit, though, my interest began to shift from the vineyard to the winery. It was there, I began to understand, that wines truly come into form. To say nothing of the fact that, being 1.83 metres tall, I’d become increasingly reluctant to spend my days bent in half pruning vines…
What brought you to Château Palmer?
Pruning work, ironically. I’d heard from a classmate that the estate was looking to hire people qualified for that kind of work. And it’s not every day that an opportunity comes up to work for a grand cru classé! I was 23 years old. A month later, a position opened up for a cellar worker. I applied without hesitation.
What is your day-to-day like?
Never the same! No vintage resembles the one before. This forces us to constantly question our practices, and prevents us from developing any automatisms. Our only guide is our palate. Only by tasting can we decide if there is to be fining or not, racking or not… At the moment, I’m finishing the post-fining racking, separating the clear wine of the 2017 vintage from its lees. As for the 2018 vintage, having been blended and placed in barrels, it’s now resting. Tomorrow, we shall see... I love this absence of certainties. This capacity the estate has to shake up conventional thinking, to push boundaries, it really inspires me.
"No vintage resembles the one before. This forces us to constantly question our practices, and prevents us from developing any automatisms. Our only guide is our palate."
And how about your free time?
Of course, I enjoy collecting a little wine from here and there, but I taste quite a bit as well. Mainly Bordeaux, since they’re the most accessible in the region, like a Château Palmer 1990 I had – my birth year! But the way I like to spend most of my leisure time is listening to metal. It’s been a lifelong passion. When I was younger, I preferred the gentle, almost symphonic versions by the likes of Iron Maiden, Nightwish, or Epica. Later, I discovered the folk metal music of such bands as Eluveitie and Korpiklaani, before exploring the fuller, more powerful sounds of groups like Architects and Dagoba.
The energy these groups emanate during their performances is astounding, and I find certain subjects simply lend themselves best to this form of expression. For me, it’s endlessly fascinating. And that rebellious spirit could even bring to mind, to a certain extent, the nonconformism of Château Palmer. However, I don’t mix the two. I never listen to metal while I work!