After being back In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite thanks to Melissa Clark this week interview is my conversation with Anne Le Naour who oversees winemaking at 4 or is it 5 properties including Chateau Meyney (St Estephe) as technical director for Credit Agricole or to be more precise CA Grands Crus in Bordeaux.
Q: Anne, How long have you been at the wine making helm with CA Grands Crus?
Since 2009, prior to that I worked for Bernard Magrez.
Q: Did you get a formal training before working in the wine field?
I trained in agronomy as an engineer and specialized in oenology.
Q: My interest in interviewing you was drawn by our conmon Breton name, are these your roots?
My father is Breton, my mother Spanish basque.
Q: How and where did your vocation get its confirmation?
I started with Burgundy (Chablis) moved to Champagne then the Loire Valley. Bordeaux was next followed by 7 months in Australia and then back to Bordeaux.
Q: Any thoughts on the 'Green Wood' issue?
At one point the call for barrels was heated and wood was not given the chance to age gracefully, hence the off-putting 'green wood' period. Lessons were learned hopefully.
Q: Michel Rolland is made to look like a 'scary' figure at times, any thoughts on that topic?
Michel Rolland is better than how he has been framed in past few years.
Q: How 'green' is your vineyard approach?
The weed killing and chemical use in general has become a thing of the past. Soil management and keeping the character of the grapes is foremost in my approach.
Q: Bottle weight is another issue that comes up in the eco-friendly sphere, how do you deal with it?
We are obviously conscious of our carbon footprint, making bottles lighter while keeping our standards is a work in progress. We introduced 25 cl 'Sauternes' bottles that for some reason cannot be sold in the US even though it is a great way to introduce customers to Sauternes.
Q: How do you see the impact of the younger generation on Bordeaux?
We respect the history of the region, there is no revolution yet we bring a different sensitivity, less insularity. We are more open to the world.
Q: How would you rate your experience of 'corporate' versus 'family' ownership in Bordeaux wine world?
From where I stand there is less pressure with 'corporate' owned properties than 'family' owned ones. In my case with CA Grands Crus there is a clear definition of who, where, when while some family owned properties have a more diffuse and at time conflicting set.
Q: Your thoughts on the 'Bordeaux' system of selling?
While there has been speculation in some areas, the 'systeme bordelais' has been pretty good at protecting us through the downturn.
Q: What have been main changes in export markets throughout the recession?
Starting in 2008 and continuing in 2009 there was a move from London as the primary destination to Hong Kong.
Q: Anne, name your 5 biggest markets?
I would say France, UK, USA, China and last Russia.
Q: To conclude, how does China square in the Bordeaux picture?
Even though China has embraced Bordeaux in a big way in past few years, we cannot give up on our faithfull markets of the past. There is a need for balance. China's newly wealthy class shows an appetite for labels like Bordeaux much in the same way that Wall Streeters did with some prestige California wines in the boom years. We cannot bet the farm on it. We call these trends 'buveurs d'etiquette'.
(* Anne le Naour pictured with Grand-Puy Ducasse young, new Maitre de Chais Cecile Bernier on her left, photo by Wine Words and Videotape , November 2010)