I have been a winemaker since 1991 and have been using certified biodynamic cultivation at Château Fonroque since 2002 and at Château Mazeyres since 2012. What we do is teamwork. My approach to winegrowing is like that of a researcher, in the most fundamental meaning of the term. I cannot be solely a scientist smitten with rationality, or just an uncompromising manager. The sciences teach and inspire me, but I consider the experience of the senses as providing one of the many different forms of objectivity. First and foremost, it is about observation (in this case of the vine and its immediate and distant environment), then about understanding and developing real trust in the spontaneous structures and creative solutions that emerge.
Supported by ways of thinking that have been guiding humans since ancient times, I apply this very personal approach to my wines in order to preserve their vitality and their potential to create a dialogue with the people who choose to drink them. The trust that I place in the strength of specific organic languages is a precious guide, paired with all the tools to bring the project to fruition. This sensitivity is increasingly widely shared by a community that refuses to simplify the complex or deny its responsibility within the chain of exchanges that nourishes all of us. This growing trend is expressed via a wide range of denominations and makes up what is now biodynamics, as yet still developing and exploring concepts that require calm examination of their legitimacy.
The result is the expression of a dialogue with a form of elementary intelligence that is not able to offer up its evident expertise and that it would be extremely harmful to seek to control. There is nothing magical or supernatural about what we do. It is simply an ode to nature with no fear of what still remains to be clarified. The human spirit, with its great patience, has been shown the virtues of accepting its own limits. This place that is truly our own is at heart the most comfortable, the place where we create real, substantial, non-decorative action. Vagueness, sometimes lingering and sometimes replaced by clarity, is inherent in this ambitious project of combining organic processes. The question of how to articulate this scientific equipment available to us and the resulting psychology has been occupying the grey matter of epistemology for several centuries. I am an heir to this heritage of thought, and I actively engage my memory as often as possible to nourish my role as an exploratory winemaker.
(...) Therefore, from a closer and purer league between these two faculties, the experimental and the rational (such as has never yet been made), much may be hoped (...)
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
The second son of a family of farmers from Haut Corrèze, Jean Moueix chose Paris as the place to open up a number of dairy product stores. By 1920, his commercial success was clear. Eleven years later, he visited Château Fonroque with Adèle. Their enthusiasm was immediate, and the decades that followed only increased the couple’s attachment (and also that of their oldest son Jean-Antoine Moueix) to the Fonroque lands and their historic winegrowing vocation. Following Jean-Antoine’s death in 1979, running of the estate was entrusted to Établissements Jean-Pierre Moueix, a family trading house created by Adèle and Jean’s youngest son Jean-Pierre. The estate’s story continued under the co-leadership of Alain’s father Jean-Jacques Moueix and his great-uncle Jean-Pierre Moueix.
Alain Moueix inherited the site in 2001 and began biodynamic cultivation.
For me, it all began when I read Rudolf Steiner’s agricultural course in 1996. From this stream of decryption across multiple volumes, with its touching openness and invitation to reflect, I was drawn to the writings of Goethe, who is cited by Steiner right from the outset. I read his autobiography one winter evening after an exhausting day. The relief was immediate. It all began with these words. ‘On the 28 August 1749 at midday, as the clock struck twelve, I came into the world in Frankfurt-am-Main. My horoscope was propitious: the sun stood in the sign of Virgo, and had reached its peak for the day. Jupiter and Venus looked on him with a friendly eye.’ This highlights his harmony with the universe and his huge appetite for celestial order. I continued with the ‘Theory of Colours’, which reawakened my love for painting. It put me in mind of paintings by Per Kirkeby, Gérard Gasiorowski and Mamma Anderson, among others. Goethe has been on my bedside table my ever since. It is a balm, amongst other things, and he is not blind. I need living writing with a freshness that washes over me like a flood. I emerge with a little bit more vitality, and a little more aware of the cruel torments of ignorance. I learn. There is a lot to be drawn from what some people describe as certain, because we are free in how we choose to tackle it. Protean eloquence feeds the spirit. Goethe (like Philip Roth, Georges Steiner and others) is one of those authors who satisfy my penchant for scholarly passions with more questions than assertions, and with a sparkle of curiosity in their eye. This way of breaking down barriers between forms of life moves me. I hear echoing snippets of his dialogue with God and his idealism, which is one component of his clear thinking. These founding elements of biodynamics feed my everyday work in tangible ways, and the resulting wines are all shaped by this studious genesis.
Fortunately, it is impossible to sum winemaking up in just a few replicable principles. It is a difficult and often fragmented process to define a theoretical articulation of actions that enable its arrival in the world. Wine is also made whilst people’s backs are turned in the silence of the deserted winery, in the minds and dreams of those currently working and those who worked when everything was still no more than a promise. And so, alongside this expertise and these rituals, sensitive perception of immediate signs also plays a role and sometimes governs more processes than is generally admitted.
However, we can pick out four major stages which, despite being full of these creative hazards, are systematically undergone by people and the material in question before our wine is born. It is then released on its own particular journey, in the secrecy of the bottle, waiting to be revealed by the palates that experience it. Because it is the drinker, the beverage’s ultimate home, that transforms it into words, emotions and sensitive experience, highlighting what deserves to be.
I have been collecting works of modern art for a decade. My father also collected art and was heavily influenced by Jean-Pierre Moueix, an exceptional collector with whom he shared a workspace for twenty five years. Then, other art forms also moved in: dance, performance, music, and all forms of writing. Fonroque and Mazeyres have seen the blossoming of a multitude of ephemeral creations of which little can be harnessed. Artist residencies have nourished the site with a series of creations. These encounters, which are always ultimately shared with an audience, have never been formalised, with their substance seeping away every time a framework threatens to impose a structure. These agricultural spaces are continuing to welcome cultivators. They represent the meat of this vital human activity and work on the world away from any fame, enjoying a real, immediate relationship with their material. I have never publicised these encounters. In addition to the fact that this is not a marketing operation for chateaus, I have also noted elsewhere (and heard directly from interested parties) that this does not offer artists much other than an opportunity to meet an audience that often only has a secondary interest in their services. Invited instead for the benefit of the brand, the people present view these precious performances as cultural entertainment and the majority miss what really matters. What I gain from these experiences and what will truly linger is their essential flavour. I am certain that even the walls have memories. As do many members of the audience, surprised by such intensity with such little fuss.
Every quarter, a new chapter begins in Alain Moueix’s notebook.
From the first element to the umpteenth, it is all about winegrowing – but in the broader sense, since Alain Moueix offers what is considered to be a unique way of looking at things. In brief, animated form, the notebook is intended for exploration, development, study, sharing and free thinking.