Palmer & you

Théo Ceccaldi

The Jazz violinist Théo Ceccaldi passionately followed the development of the 2019 vintage. His creative residency at Château Palmer is soon to give birth to a limited edition vinyl.

The cancellation of the Hear Palmer event last spring, due to lockdown, gave you a wonderful idea. Rather than a concert: a record!

Yes, the sanitary restrictions transformed the project and made it even more ambitious, deeper. I’m very happy about it. The idea emerged whilst talking with Thomas Duroux and the Château Palmer team: rather than interpreting the vintage at the opening of the Primeurs, we decided to publish an album, a tailor-made disc to celebrate a unusual year and, through it, salute ten years of work in biodynamics. It was an unprecedented experience both for Château Palmer and for myself.

How did you do it?

I had already come to immerse myself in the soul of the estate during the harvest period. I went back there for several days in the spring, after lockdown. I observed the winegrowers, the shepherd and the gardener hard at work. I took notes, I was interested in everything: the culture of the vine, the importance of the terroir, the choice of the vegetables, the character of a grape variety or that of a blend. Thomas explained Château Palmer’s very particular ecosystem to me, which strikes a familiar cord with jazz ... The winegrowers show exemplary devotion and dedication. They never know in what order they will harvest the grapes and adapt themselves to the whims of the weather with a mixture of improvisation and alert responsiveness, like with jazz. There are a lot of similarities between the maturation of an album and that of a vintage. It is first and foremost a permanent risk: as concerns wine, you have to understand the unpredictable aspects of nature, trust the land and be attentive.

Is an album really made like a wine?

The main stages echo each other: making music begins with a period of composition, then comes that of recording, mixing and finally mastering. Making wine begins with an acute knowledge of the earth and of the vine, both of which require care at all times. Then comes the harvest, the assembly and the ageing in barrels ... Each step is as decisive as it is essential: musicians and winegrowers alike test, fumble, measure, doubt and relentlessly refine so as to achieve the desired balance and excellence. What percentage of merlot? What degree of reverberation? Extreme precision is required when mixing a track or assembling grape varieties in view of achieving the most harmonious of blends.

"Each step is as decisive as it is essential: musicians and winegrowers alike test, fumble, measure, doubt and relentlessly refine so as to achieve the desired balance and excellence."

Théo Ceccaldi, Musicien, Paris

How do you express a vintage with a violin?

I did not try to translate my emotions into musical phrases. It's a more tenuous process than that, which passes through immersion and impregnation. The estate’s atmosphere tints my music, acts as a filter, a spice that brings a particular flavour to the composition. I improvised in different places: the château attic, the middle of the vines, the cellars ... Each acoustic influences the way in which one plays. The setting inspired me with a new, fine and mature “sound”.

 I wrote six pieces, each of which represents a wine or a vintage from Château Palmer. The outcome is more refined than my previous albums, with some surges that characterise 2019’s effervescence, the vintage of the resurrection. We then spent three days recording in my studio in Orleans. This is my first ever vinyl. It is the result of a shared adventure. The album will be released in November 2021, at the same time as the 2019 vintage, as its musical suite...