The estate was divided into five "islands" four years ago and the teams rediscover their distinct plots each season, mastering them with time, experience and ever-deeper roots.
This singular island nestled two miles from the château is bordered by a forest and scattered with fruit trees. This is the estate's "most varied" ensemble, featuring four varieties of white grapes alongside the reds. These vigorous vines each require specific pruning and treatment. Debudding is one particularly delicate stage, consisting of cutting off a vast number of excess branches, often "as thick as Christmas trees," says Franck, to give an idea of the scale of the task. This valiant Médoc native can count on Isabelle, a former pre-school assistant, who is as skilled at growing vines as she was at raising children. Christine completes this trio, and received twenty roses from the director, in person, to celebrate her twentieth year with the estate last February. All three are unwaveringly loyal to the earth and have a truly extraordinary work ethic.
These are the oldest vines, lying closest to the estuary and offering the finest wines. The Plateau des Brauzes is also the "cleanest" island, according to the winegrowers, meaning it is a well-known, tamed terroir. It serves as the estate's memory, located just behind the château where the sun rises and the Merlots shine. Aurélie, a former carpenter who is now proud to work with wood's very roots, heads up an enthusiastic team. Every year, they are delighted to "rediscover the same plots" and eager to experiment with new techniques. On plot 46, for example, the number of vine stocks has doubled to reach 20,000 feet per hectare. Meanwhile, on plot 16, the vines are being pruned higher this year and trellised up to six feet. The objective is to develop a better understanding of the ecosystem and work tirelessly to make the vines more resilient and robust. Both a calling and an exultation.
Driss is one of the guardians of the estate. When he has finished working on the Merlot or Cabernet vines of the Domec island — a total of thirteen hectares between the cellar and the Route des Vins — he sleeps in the village, watches over the château, feeds the animals, and sometimes even helps deliver a calf or a lamb, accompanied by his wife and their three children. "Perfectionism" is his philosophy, because "it pays off." "A profound knowledge of the vines makes our job easier," says Émilie. "We see the results of our work from one year to the next." The winegrower chose Château Palmer for "its pioneering spirit," "the absence of pesticides," and its biodynamic approach. Vintage after vintage, the five members of the team watch with satisfaction as "the plant learns to stand on its own two feet." The winegrower provides the impetus, and nature follows.