|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.