Raymond Wine Estates: the future is assured !
150 hectares of vines grown using organic methods, this is what positions the Raymond Wine Estates as one of the leaders for French “organic” vine growing. Since this estate in Saint Laurent du Bois expanded in 2000 with the acquisition of Joumes Fillon (32 hectares), quality has become the key factor under the management of Lionel Raymond, eighth generation of this family to work this land. Returning here after an initial career abroad, he began by doubling the area of production in 2000, before tackling negotiations with hyper and supermarkets. Let’s take a look at the situation after seven years of Lionel Raymond’s management …Lionel Raymond, you took over the management of the Raymond wine domains in 2000 and encouraged a general trend for organic vine growing. Could you present your domains and tell us about production in a few figures?Raymond Wine Estates yield a varied production with vines grown in the three following places: Saint Martial, Saint Laurent du Bois (lands of Châteaux de Lagarde and Joumes Fillon) in the appellations Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur and Saint Félix de Foncaude. We currently employ 22 people full-time, as well as seasonal staff.
We produce 25 different wines (800 000 to 1 000 000 bottles a year) and we make a top-of-the range cuvee called La Joly (6 000 bottles a year). This first-rate wine is made using traditional methods, in Burgundy style casks without lids, with a combination of techniques used for white Burgundies and the red wines of La Joly. Regular stirring up of the lees brings this wine fruitiness and crispness, perfected by a final year of maturation. We are the only producers in the Bordeaux Côtes de Saint Macaire appellation to blend 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec, for La Joly, because this bestows the wine with powerfulness and spicy hints. We also produce another top-quality wine, a dry white Côtes de Bordeaux Saint Macaire (50% Sémillon and 50% Sauvignon), made in barrels (Burgundy casks).
Has the decision to use organic methods been a wise one?Within the framework of the ‘AB’ (organic agriculture) standard, we follow European specifications which prohibit the use of pesticides, weed killers and synthetic vine treatments or chemical fertilisers (all of this is checked by the certifying organisation, ‘Qualité France’). We carry out thermal weed killing, using satellite mowers, with anti-clockwise rotor blades and we fertilise the soil with organic matter … Because of the restricted use of curative treatments, we must face considerable risks for our vine growing, and this caused great difficulty in 2007. In reality, one has to adapt methods to each plot of the vineyard, each grape variety according to the amount of sunshine and general weather conditions of each vintage …
But in the end, the results are on a par with our efforts. Our wines possess considerable character, which reveals all the strength of their terroir. They regularly receive medals (General Agricultural Competition in Paris and the Agricultural Competition in Bordeaux, the Competition in Bourg, Vinalies …) and the wine trade press mentions these awards.
What about sales, your main concern when you took over the management of these estates?
We sell approximately 60% of our production in France, in hyper and supermarkets and in the channel of hotels, cafés and restaurants. Naturally we take part in futures tastings and organise our own tastings at the estate. We export 40% of production to 30 different countries (including Japan, the United States, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany …). The main aim now is to develop top-of-the-range exports, hence the recent recruitment of a person responsible for sales to the United States (distribution is carried out by Wall Food on this market). We also hope to develop exports of quality wines to Japan, a market which is extremely attentive to the traceability of wines. This demand is also found in France: the first markets for organic wines were won due to their excellent quality.
More personally, which vintages do you prefer?
Our wines, crisp on the first taste, are fruity, delicious and as well-balanced as possible. 2005 is the best vintage for La Joly. For white wines, 2007 will be exceptional: with extremely fruity hints, it possesses the powerfulness of 2005 and the fruitiness of 2006. Since 2003, our wine is listed every year in the Hachette wine guide. La Joly was awarded a ‘coup de coeur’ (favourite rating) by the Revue des Vins de France in 2007: the same title at the end of 2007 also listed our white wine amongst the 400 best white wines in France.
SARL Raymond VFI
33540 St-Laurent du Bois
Tél : 05 56 76 43 63
Fax : 05 56 76 46 26