Producer profiles - Jérôme and Aurélie Vic
The Vic family has been showcasing Preignes le Vieux since 1905 and the estate is now proof of the bond between man and land, Jerome and Aurelie Vic, the fifth generation are now tending vines on 250 hectares of land surrounding the château. They are determined to continue the efforts of the previous generations, which is to improve the culture of the vines and the transformation of their grapes into quality wine.
Our relationship with Domaine Preignes Robert Vic started over a decade ago. Jérome and Aurelie are the most passionate professional and incredible personable people you could ever wish to partner, they've spent many afternoons hosting our restaurant staff in their historic castle courtyard, BBQ-ing oysters, grilling meats, preparing salads and fish dishes, and serving of course the most delicious wines to accompany the incredible cuisine.
On visits to the UK, they call in to see our customers in their own venues, whether meeting and tasting with the teams or hosting wine and dinner tastings, it's always great fun and they are always thrilled to see their wines printed on the lists of our pub, hotel and restaurant customers, keen to engage with the staff to understand how their wines are being recieved by their guests.
As part of our Producer feature, we want to give you some insight into our incredible winery partners who produce the wines you love, what drives and inspires them. In celebration we have put together a mixed case of whites, reds and rosés with a 25% discount on the case AND free delivery.
Up Close and Personal with Jerome Vic
How did you get started as a wine producer ?
Like Obelix, I fell into the magic potion when I was a boy! I am the fifth generation on the property, and my parents were always very dedicated to their work as winegrowers. Indirectly, they passed on this passion by involving me in what was going on in the vineyard and the winery on a daily basis from an early age. Most of the time I really enjoyed it, even if occasionally there were other very tempting distractions. But I must say that I had a particularly happy childhood, and my parents never put any pressure on me to take over the reins. At school I studied rural economy, and then went to Nottingham University - I thought I would mention that as it is your country! I have wonderful souvenirs of my time there, and the strenuous Saturdays playing rugby with Not Trent Rugby Union - my team-mates called me the " French TGV" because I was a bit of a matchstick for the third row, but I ran a lot... At the same time, I was working on the family property. I gradually began to appreciate the beauty of this ancient practice, developed with each passing generation, and at the end of my studies I could not imagine doing anything else other than devoting myself to the family business and making my own contribution. For me, growing vines, transforming the grapes into wine, and then ageing, blending and selling it, is a truly magical process! It was an opportunity that I simply could not miss.
Do you have a favourite grape variety to work with, and why?
Syrah for red wine, Grenache for rosé and Vermentino for white! These are my favourite grape varieties for several reasons. They are Mediterranean grapes that express all the flavours of our beautiful region: ripe fruit, thyme, rosemary and spices for the red grapes; white-fleshed fruit, aniseed and fennel for the Vermentino - the same scents that you encounter on a walk through the wild countryside. These are also wines that keep well over time, remaining rich and full-bodied, while retaining a wonderful freshness.
What’s the most challenging part of your job ?
Ensuring that the vines flourish and produce healthy grapes despite the vagaries of the weather and overall conditions every year. You can only make good wine with ripe, well-balanced grapes. The challenge is to manage a multitude of tiny details that, when added up, make a huge difference. It could be more rigorous (closer) pruning one year, to renew the vines' vigour, a bit like going on a diet! Or in another it might be some organic fertilizer at the right time, to rebalance a deficiency in the soil. This subtle alchemy continues year after year. It's very much a matter of observation.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
When a customer thanks us and says they enjoyed drinking one of our wines, or when I see my team feeling pleased with themselves because they know that their hard work every day will result in a good wine that will be appreciated by our customers.
Who do you most admire in the wine world?
Winegrowers who start later in life after a long previous career. It seems like an enormous challenge to me, speaking as someone who has devoted their whole life to it, and yet many manage to make a success of it.
What does the word ‘terroir’ mean to you and how does it relate to the wines you produce?
The terroir is part of the definition of a wine. A bit like people: a "southerner" has a different accent, habits and pace of life compared to a "northerner". They are an expression of a place, and a way of life. You have to be aware of this and respect it. It is a major part of the wine's constitution, of its profile.
How do you practice sustainability and what is its importance to you?
This is something that we embrace on a daily basis. It is a question of methods, how we tend the vines, and of doing what we do every day in such a way as to respect the environment. We have obtained approval for our approach with rigorous environmental certification, i.e. level 3 HEV (the highest) - this European certification for sustainable agriculture approves environmentally-friendly practices, biodiversity in the vineyard and the use of healthy products. There are at least two very good reasons for us to respect the soil and our environment: first, they are our "bread", and the basis of our activity; second, we are just "passing through". I want to pass something on to future generations that reflects who I am and that I can be proud of.
The whole family is involved! But most of all my wife Aurelie who left her initial career in clinical research and returned to her studies to become an oenologist when she was 35 years-old! She is now in charge of the winery, so at home it is difficult for us to talk about anything other than vines and wine.
Which wines were on your table last Christmas?
A sparkling Limoux from Mr Delmas, one of our favourite winegrowers, a Cornas from the Rhone valley, since we like good, concentrated Syrah, a Douro wine (Quinta de la Rosa) for its richness, lovely ripe fruit and to remind us of the beautiful property, a Sauternes from Suduiraut for its incredible aromatic palette characteristic of these nectars, not forgetting a good armagnac, as old as possible. Our tastes are very "traditional French", but we like to try wines from other regions in France, and from all over the world. We are very curious and open, although we have a marked preference for rich, mature wines.
If you were a wine... write a short tasting note that best describes you?
First it would be red, since I am red! The southern sun has taken its toll on my fair skin... a fruity, rounded red wine, with a delightful, charming character (perhaps not always the case, particularly first thing in the morning, but I've always seen myself as a bit of a James Bond!), finesse - again not always, especially after an aperitif and light, appetizing tannins on the finish that make you want to take another sip - or in other words, to enjoy life!
Aurélie, a true southerner!
Aurélie grew up between Martigues and the Cévennes. She spent all her summers at the family farmhouse in Cévennes, picking blackberries, playing in the shade of the chestnut trees and fly fishing in the nearby river. The daughter of a chemist, she was more scientific than literary; after five years of studies, she completed a Masters in chemistry and for seven years worked as a clinical research assistant travelling all over France. After Grégoire was born in 2004, she was ready to move on, the work she was doing no longer corresponded to her values and she had been developing an interest in the fascinating world of wine for some time... between her winegrower husband whom she would accompany to weekend tastings, and an epicurean father who delighted in introducing her to his gourmet discoveries, a change in career was a relatively short step!
After a skills assessment and much discussion, she sent off her application to the pharmacy faculty in Montpellier to become an oenologist. She only had to wait a few days: she was accepted. After two years of training in which she learned much, met many people and drank a great deal of wine, she received her diploma: Aurélie Vic, certified oenologist class of 2008! The rest, as they say, is history:
- 10 successive vinifications at Preignes
- Five years ago, the creation of her own range: Aurélie Vic
- Work on a daily basis with committed partners
- HEV certification since 2018, and prior to that, Qualenvi since 2006
And for the future: "You always have to be humble and respect what Nature grants us; our growing methods are different to those ten years ago, and will change again in another four years, in this profession you never stop learning".