Interview Aurélien Lefort

Interview Aurélien Lefort


Foundation: 2012
Area: Around 2 hectares
Production: Between 2000 and 4000 bottles
Wine-growing region: Auvergne
Municipality: Madriat
Sites: Le Pré clos (30 ares), Les Jalades (6 ares), Lamouret (29 ares), Le Bachat (40 ares), Les Chirouzes (7 ares), La Quaire (12 ares), La Condami (10 ares), Le suquet (21 ares).
Grape varieties: Gamay d'Auvergne, Pinot noir, Chardonnay.
Soil, typicity: Red clay, black clay, granite sand, sandstone, quartz, feldspar, basalt.
Sea level, exposure: Slopes and gentle slopes, orientation to the east, south/east, north/east, south, altitude between 500 and 700 meters.
Work in the vineyard: All by hand, different pruning (gobelet, guyot, royat), wild planting, targeted tillage with a pickaxe, treatments with copper oxide, volcanic sulfur, various herbal teas made from plants picked on the estate (horsetail, meadow queen, comfrey, nettle, sage, serpolet, rue, laurel, ...).
Methods winery: Natural vinification without additives. No use of electricity and oenological products.


First contact with the vine - when, how, where.
I came to Auvergne in 2011 after a two-year internship as an apprentice in the Loir-et-Cher department (Maison Brûlées - Pouillé). When I met winemakers and their wines, such as Patrick Bouju, Vincent & Marie Tricot, Jean Maupertuis and Pierre Beauger, I could consider the idea of settling in this beautiful and contrasting volcanic landscape.
Things continuously revealed themselves and still do.
From the first steps as a temporary vineyard worker with two small plots (30 ares) as experimental fields that Patrick Bouju had left me on the Puy de Corent, the situation gradually evolved into an eclectic parcelling of abandoned vineyards that were no longer used or that others did not want to take over due to impractical access and mechanization or lack of productivity. Since 2014, they are all centralized in the geographical area of the appellation Boudes Côtes d'Auvergne, where we have become native without really planning it.
Since 2012, the area under cultivation has increased. The plots cover about 2.5 hectares, but it can be put into perspective to understand, as sometimes they are vineyards where many vines are missing, where production is at times anecdotal and slowed down, the rows of vines patchy and wide.
Or reversed.
I therefore estimate that the parcel units, in terms of productivity, are about 1 hectare and 80 ares.
From this new year (2021), a planting will be prepared, initially 1700 Vines to be planted per year over the next 6 years on approximately 1.4 hectares,
This could eventually lead to a total of vineyard in production of about 3 hectares.
Currently, average production can be estimated at 5 to 10 hl/ha, depending on the vintage.
Over time and with the young vines in production, the vineyards should offer between 10 and 20 hl/ha of fruit. The goal is to produce 5000 to 6000 bottles per year.
Vineyard management methods will gradually shift to tillage (inter-ceps/ cultivator) to promote a balance between revegetation and growth of the young, flourishing vines.

Why are you a winemaker:
I think the connection between my activity as an artist-painter/drawer and the desire I had to practice an artisan profession outdoors, alone in contact with plants and the landscape, happened by chance.
Out of fondness for transformation, in this case from cultivated fruits, fermentation, towards a spontaneous and autonomous (liquid) universe that can be observed and interpreted, that could be drunk to be on cloud nine and unite.
It's like a vocation.

Where and with whom did you learn to work with vines, vinify wine and manage a winery:
Between Brittany and the Cher Valley, to Auvergne and through the many encounters that have happened and will happen, because it should never stop learning new things.
I think back to a friend who loved whisky and wine when we were art students in Quimper (Brittany). I especially liked whisky, and much later this friend showed me that wine can be light, subtle and complex, refreshing and digestible, convivial without being euphoric and stupid. I researched, read, drank wine above all and became interested.
It was then enthusiastic and passionate wine merchants like Olivier Cochard (Histoire de vins - Rennes) and Michel Tamisier (Cave 47 - Tours) who made me discover the lively and sincere wines of winemakers like Michel Augé, Patrick Bouju, Pierre Beauger, Philippe Jambon, Christophe Foucher, Anne-Marie Lavaysse, Alain Castex, Bernard Belhassen, Clos Fantine, Clos du tue-boeuf, Les Griottes, Hirotake Ooka, ... one cannot name them all, let discover.
I tried to meet these winemakers while continuing to discover their wines.
In the winter of 2009/2010, I visited Michel and Béatrice Augé (Les Maisons Brûlées), who wanted to take me on as a trainee after a few months if I were to train as a Viti/Oeno (Amboise - 37), which I did at the beginning of the next school year.
From the first handles of budbreak in the spring of 2010 to my graduation in June 2011, I discovered this immense world where disciplines such as agronomy, agriculture, botany, geology, meteorology, chemistry, history and poetry overlap.
I am initiated into pruning by altruistic workers, with Michel and Béatrice Augé in the management of a dedicated Samuel Boulay in the winemaking and in the mutual dynamics of all those involved in the production of these wines bursting with life.
After my graduation, I leave Cher Valley for Puy-de-Dôme, attracted by its landscapes, the light, the winemakers and their wines.
Patrick Bouju, François Dhumes, Pierre Beauger, etc. ... not far from them, I learn, understand and develop my own work in small plots just acquired.

Is there a team, or do you work alone:
But it is also the company of people who come to understand, who help with the harvest, the vinification and the various works in the vineyards and in the cellar.
You are never completely alone, and some volunteers bring you so much energy, care and friendship.

"Vine", what does it mean to you, or what comes to mind spontaneously:
A crazy plant.
Lights, vibrations, soul and sorrows.
So earthly and fleeting at the same time.
Hopes, discord and an abstemious wonder.

What is your inspiration in vinification:
The general situation and mood during the harvest, the ripeness and morphology of the grapes.
How the summer went.
The immediate climatic conditions.
But also the desire to discover something unknown.

An important aspect of your work in the vineyard:
To be aware of nature in the field, not to have too much influence on the environment, and at the same time to prevent the vines from disappearing under what could cover them, namely the forest.
It is a strange paradox that combines domestication and productivity, but also admiration and respect for the wild and the desire to become a local there, a helper.
And at the same time angry in the case that the birds have left me nothing.
There is at the same time a boisterous, animalistic relationship, but also cultivating an aestheticism and a capital.

What materials and forms do you prefer in the cellar for fermentation and aging and why:
I like tools that are easy to transport and clean, cost little and are well maintained, small and suitable for small quantities. I also like it when you can see and feel what you are doing.
Also, for example, I prefer a bucket to a pump for transferring juice. I feel like I'm the tool myself, rather than depending on something that's already designed for it.

The character of your wines:
It's hard to say. Other people who drink my wines are certainly in a better position to answer this question. But I would say that they oscillate between civilized and wild. At least, that's the issue I'm trying to address with this profession.

Winemakers:inside that you appreciate:
There are several, for as many reasons as I appreciate their work, the wines, the landscape in which they move, and their political and poetic view of the world. All of this is related to the choices each of them has made and how they envision the future.

Do you have a favorite wine:
Not really. Everything can come and go. But there are moments, above all, in which they can be discovered.

If you had the opportunity to change one circumstance regarding your vineyard or winery, what would it be:
I will try to underpin this idea that nature and agriculture can go together and nourish each other.
It's not a change in the strict sense, but rather a dynamic, an evolution that is linked to this idea that the vineyards are not the only ones in this small area where we insist on growing.
What I think is important to consider is that within a vineyard one, or more other crops are possible. Plantings of fruit trees, herbs, legumes, cereals, but especially old and autochthonous varieties.
This is what I would like to change when it comes to the cultivation of wine: it should be part of a cultural development project that is diverse, incorporates many different species, and especially takes into account those that are already anchored in the landscape, autochthonous, native, hardy vegetation.
The same applies to the buildings and the garden. Diversity and choice of materials (wood, metal, stones) and individuals (plants, trees, animals).
The construction of a fountain (spring) on one of the properties seems to me also an important part to be integrated in this redesign.

Climate Change:
Planet Earth has been experiencing a tremendous upheaval since the second half of the 19th century, due to industrial activity.
The pollution is enormous and one does not what, the plastic, the carbon monoxide, the petroleum, the insecticides, the biocides, the extractions, the deforestation, etc., etc., etc....
Global warming is difficult for the population to interpret, do we understand that it is getting warmer?
The problem is very complex and will affect all living beings. It is aggravated by the depletion of all resources and life on Earth and the damage this will bring.
I believe that we really need to change the awareness, the agricultural practices, the behaviors of the citizens:inside and the consumption reflexes.
It is also up to the public authorities to intervene with laws to quickly ban chemical poisons that are literally killing the earth and the oceans, and to offer real solutions in energy and consumer goods. But they're doing nothing, so it's up to each and every one of us to get involved.
Citizens must engage in one way or another, gather locally, cultivate, exchange, construct, with reflection on consumption, agriculture, knowledge of species, diversity and their role in nature.
Schools also have a role to play in teaching children all these essential disciplines, and pedagogy should focus on the notion of respect and the flourishing of life.
Global warming is not an inevitable fate, but our view of the world and our practices must evolve.

"Natural wine:
Natural wine, to me, is a free wine. This means that there are no restrictions in its production and that only diligence and balance should be the goal, and this starts with the vines, with what we give them in terms of information. How you decide to farm your plots, to go there and be happy about what happened there when you leave. That feeling that rewards you for a job well done.
No chemicals, healthy plants on living soils, delicate handwork.
From the vine to the bottle.
Then, however, how we decide to vinify.
From grapes that are loved. Little or no manipulation so as not to damage the fruit, so that it keeps its integrity. No abrupt movements. And a lot of time.
It is something intimate that accompanies you. When the wine is fermenting in the cellar, it's like living near a living being, an entity that you take great care of.
I am glad that I live above my wine cellar for this reason, because under our feet bubbles a life with true fragrances.
I try to convey this feeling to those who drink the wine, this feeling, an intimate, fragrant moment with a soothing inebriety.
That's what a natural wine is to me.

Projects and/ or utopias:
The upcoming plantings.
Realizations on smaller buildings.
Opening a small kebab store at home.

"Let's farm our garden".

A nice place to drink wine:
At our favorite restaurants.
Can't wait!

Madriat, Janvier 2021

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