There are men behind every wines, there is a team, there is an idea, there is a vineyard of course, and like in music, there is a conductor to make the magic happen, @Chateau Reignac, the conductor is him: Nicolas Lesaint. I have met him first via his blog, his writing is beautiful, and if you always wanted to learn french, here it’s a very good reason to do so. Just to read him, his text are not only smart, kind, full of knowledge, but also full of poetry. Nicolas not only can make wine from grapes but has something special about writing, he makes poetry from reality. You can follow his blog here, and I have added links to posts you might like to read to know more about his reflexion.
S:When did you fall into the wineworld?
NL: I am born in Tarbes, so not really a good wine area, but since a child I was interested about nature, running from a bug to another bug. I had no real idea of which job I like to have, just the insurance that I wanted to save the world 🙂 As far as I can remember, wine was the “trait-d’union” between my families, and I couldn’t wat for this moment when my grand father was taking my hand to go to his cellar, to pick the right bottle of wine. It was in Anjou, the kingdom of the Chenin blanc, and the bottle was usually a coteaux du Layon made by Camille, Camille Lesaint, my grand father, expressing the perfect marriage between sweetness and acidity. My grand father was not only a wine maker, he was a basket maker, and he use to play Sax, he was a creative, and he showed me how to see creation in everything and I hope one bottle of my wine will do the same for another child.
S: What is your vision of today’s wine world?
NL: I think there is a miss-conception of the nature of the wine, everyone would like to use less chemical to produce it, but the truth is that the vine need to be contained and restrained from its own nature in order to produce good wine. Today a movement would like to make us trust that natural or nature wines exist, and I think part of it it’s a lie. This is an Ideal which doesn’t exist. In an other hand people who says they cannot produce wine without chemical are lying too. Not enough intervention on the vines will give too much typicity variation at a big risk, and too much intervention take away the natural expression of the vine, kind of dehumanization if I may. Who has never dreamt about an auto-regulated vine, which will give an authentic wine? But is the wine can be called Art? I think a wine maker just want to produce wine that wine lovers will enjoy, and a wine that will show the improvement of its vines. That’s it.
I think also that the ISO (international Organisation of standardisation) system is good, whenever the wine is Nature, Organic or biodynamic, to accept to be part of an ISO system is good axe to take. But to go to the extreme, stop the fermentation as an example and then fight to make it again with all the oxidative risks, it’s just non sense.
Nothing is simple, and it’s our duty, us, the young wine makers, to find solutions for the future to create quality products, with an environmental respect and our consumer satisfaction.
S: what is the Reignac philosophy so?
NL: At Chateau Reignac, we are in “lutte intégrée” (ICM is a method of farming that balances the requirements of running a profitable business with responsibility and sensitivity to the environment. It includes practices that avoid waste, enhance energy efficiency and minimize pollution. ICM combines the best of modern technology with some basic principles of good farming practice and is a whole farm, long-term strategy.), I don’t like this word, but it means we are not Organic and not conventional neither, we are using the best part of each way of work.
S: Why are you not Organic?
NL: Reignac is based in an Oceanic climate, which means we have a high risk of illness, odium (powdery mildew), botrytis, grey rot… and bug attacks. Secondly, our vineyard is about 70 Ha which slow our intervention to heal the vine. So part of our treatments are similar to the organic farming like sulfur to fight, molecules known to be already metabolised by the vine, based on Cu to fight the mildew, and we are part of the INRA program to improve our viticulture. this program has the ambition to value the existing biodiversity in order to reduce the number of treatment, and we already found a hyper parasite fungus capable to attack the oïdium and to destroy it. We also work with a local farm and its sheep during the winter.
S: Chateau Reignac is in the “Entre-2 -mers” area which are not been classified in 1855, what is your vision of the 1855 Bordeaux Classification?
NL: This is a ceiling glass hard to break, still today. I sometimes think that other areas are lucky to not have it, they are more free to offers the kind of wine they like. I naively thought for a while that the truth was in the taste, that the reality of the wine was stronger than an old classification which sometimes doesn’t reflect the today reality. But minds are hard to change, and it’s true that classification, AOC are good protection but also are real “carcan ” (straight jacket). Every year you can see battles in the St Emilion area, price going up in the Medoc area, and revolted reaction when an AOC Bordeaux, or Montagne (Montagne St Emilion) beat classified growth on a blind tasting. Maybe the “Renouveau” (renewal) would be the total dissolution of any classification and to come back to the tasting, just to consider the quality of a wine from its taste and not from its domain parking.
Nicolas Lesaint is also a music fan, so I leave you with one of his favourite song, Joseph Ruarri, until the luck runs dry.