From my great-grandfather, a vigneron called Lucien Aimé, to my own Lucien Aimé & Fils artisan-négociant venture
I was born in Montpellier in the 1978 vintage. The world of wine was undergoing something of a transition at the time. It was the end of the post-war war economic boom and of a certain ‘blinkered’ agricultural model focused on high production. At that time no-one was talking about global warming, sustainable development or organic viticulture, or not very much. But first, let’s go back to the beginning…
A family winegrowing heritage that became a passion and a profession
I grew up hearing wine and vine talk every day because my great-grandfather had been a wine producer. He had had a large farm with vineyards in the Oran region of Algeria. Polyculture and agroforestry may be buzzwords being bandied around today but he was already working according to their principles back then, simply using his farmer’s common sense.
There is no doubt that this heritage influenced what I refer to as my ‘first life’. After studying agriculture in Dijon and then oenology in Bordeaux, I worked as winemaker for several wine négociants in various wine regions for 15 years. I had the opportunity to make wine from many different grape varieties from incredibly diverse terroirs, creating very select wines for discerning wine drinkers as well as more popular everyday wines. After the Languedoc, Burgundy and Rhône Valley, I ended my wine ‘Tour de France’ in Bordeaux and more broadly in the wine basin of the South-West of France, which I had fallen in love with.
Reflecting on the wine world
However, these experiences led me to reflect deeply on the way the wine industry operates and the role of the négociant-winemaker as an intermediary between the soil and the wine that ends up in the glass. Is the creation of value fairly distributed? Why do some terroirs not receive the recognition they deserve? Why does wine have to be constricted by so many boxes, ideas or fixed techniques? Do today’s consumers have the wines they really want or deserve?
The birth of my children was another catalyst and a real wake-up call that got me thinking about today’s food and drink industry in general. In my work, I see the impact of winegrowing on the environment every day and I wonder what practical solutions can be found to change things. I have come to the conclusion that, with my experience, my background, my desire and my energy, I can be part of the solution.
Becoming an artisan-négociant and committing to change things for the better
The time had come for me to embark on my ‘second life’, no doubt the one I was always destined for. So, in 2022 I became an ‘artisan-négociant’. This descriptor simply reflects my intended approach: to craft eco-friendly authors’ wines, 100% organic as soon as they can be, in partnership with winegrowers who are paid above the market rate to guarantee the long-term viability of their activity.
A new “Wild West” to explore and invent
My years spent exploring the terroirs of the South-West of France have convinced me of the exceptional potential that lies hidden therein. This will be my viticultural playground, whether it be in Bordeaux, Gascony, Cahors or any of the other wine-producing areas that deserve to be better known.
My great-grandfather was called Lucien Aimé. My wines will bear his name. It’s not just a tribute, it’s a challenge. Bring it on!Julien Touboul