Every fifth bottle of French wine purchased in Russia is produced by the company. Castel.
Gastronom.ru editor Olga Volkova met in Bordeaux with Alain Castel — one of the owners of this wine empire and spoke with him about why his guilt is not terrible economic crisis.
Alain Castel — a representative of the second generation of owners Castel («Castles and Possessions of Castel»). Company Castel — the largest wine producer in France, which owns 18 castles, as well as 3,000 hectares of vineyards in all wine-producing regions of France and in some African countries (where, among other things, the group Castel also engaged in beer and carbonated drinks).
However, Monsieur Castel in the family business is the CEO, who oversees the wine.
A wine for a group Castel — This is 650 million bottles a year, of which 70% is drunk in France, and the rest goes abroad, including to Russia.
Olga Volkova: Mr. Castel, you were born into a family that dedicated your life to blame, so you were simply doomed to become a winemaker.
Have you ever had doubts about your hereditary profession?
Alan Castel: Well, except in childhood, when I dreamed of becoming a fireman, but it quickly passed. I was eight years old when I first tried wine — of course, my parents gave me only a drop of red, and even that with water, and yet I learned the taste of family business quite early.
Of course, then, many years ago, a group Castel was much more modest than today and we could only dream of the current volumes. And if you remember how it all began …
How did it all begin?
It all started is not easy. My ancestors have Spanish roots; and so, when Franco came to power in their homeland, the grandfather with his grandmother and numerous children decided to move to France.
Here the grandfather worked as a stonecutter, the children as seasonal workers, and one of the sisters went home and sold wine, in which other family members sometimes helped her. In short, the refugees from Spain had to do heavy hard work.
However, as a result of joint efforts, they managed to save some money.
And in 1949 they managed to create Bordeaux a small wine trading company.
And its founder and president was my uncle Pierre Castell — in fact, he now stands at the helm of the family enterprise he had born. And though today Pierre is already well over eighty, he does not even think about giving up his life and retiring for legal rest.
Probably, this young energy gives him, like all of us, our favorite wine, which the third generation of the family is now engaged with.
And the fourth is already growing up.
Now they can only hear — everyone has a crisis, everyone has difficulties, everyone is saving and curtailing production.
And Castel buys new castles and companies — what, for you, the crisis does not exist?
Of course, no one can fail to notice global financial problems.
However the house Castel For six decades he worked for his reputation — and now his reputation works for us.
Everyone who knows a little about wine knows that our wines are distinguished by an ideal ratio of price and quality, and that we have bottles for every taste and budget.
And inexpensive table wines, and an elite castle product — everything has its customers, and these customers are becoming more and more.
When in the early 90s we entered the Russian market, we sold 150,000 bottles a year, and now we have grown to 15 million.
Every fifth bottle of French wine purchased in your country is made by us.
You all started with Bordeaux.
Group Castel has long gone beyond the boundaries of his native region. Now we have wines from Languedoc-Roussillon, Beaujolais, the Rhône Valley, Provence — and yet Bordeaux castle wines remain our first love. True, from a financial point of view, the wines from the locks are not at all so profitable — the name “chateau” carries only 5 million bottles produced by us, however they were and remain our pride and our inspiration.
After all, castle wines give us the opportunity to work on the ground and feel the whole process of wine making from beginning to end.
And the production giants of such enjoyment, alas, cannot.
And which of the Chateaux et Domaines Castel wines do you personally prefer?
Of course, the one that bears the name Chateau du lort! You see, in our family, almost everyone has their own favorite castle. So, Pierre lives and closely follows the vineyards of the castle of Barreyres, well, and the castle Lort — this is my patrimony.
True, the house itself is not yet inhabited — like most of our castles, it was bought in a state close to the ruins, so while the building is being restored.
But the vineyards in the castle are excellent, we mainly grow merlot and cabernet sauvignon there — and the production of wine is already established. Moreover, the production in this castle is special — the mechanism of supplying the berries is designed so that the grapes do not choke, but get into the whole tank.
Perhaps the process looks more troublesome, but in gratitude we get castle wine with a special taste and aroma.
Well, if we talk about other wines of our company, then I especially like the Chateau Ferrand — the red classic burgundy, silky and with a delicate taste.
Speaking of Chateau Ferrand: we can find red wine with this name in Russian stores.
But the excellent white from this castle for some reason does not reach us.
Unfortunately white Chateau Ferrande there is not enough for everyone — we produce only 25,000 bottles a year, for which we harvest from 5 hectares of vineyards. However, soon we will expand a little, add two more hectares, because this bright wine is really in great demand, which cannot be fully satisfied. But most of the rest of our wines are at the service of connoisseurs and connoisseurs.
To be closer to Russian wine lovers, in 2006 we even started pouring some of our wines in Klin near Moscow.
I know that many of your compatriots are suspicious of such things — they believe that the wine that was bottled in Russia will certainly be worse than the wine that got into the bottle in France.
I assure you that in our case this is not the case: everything that is done at our plant in Klin does not only take place under our strict control, but with strict observance of all French standards.
We are engaged in wine at all stages of its creation: we grow and collect grapes, make wine, bottle it (and it doesn’t matter where it happens, in Russia, in France or anywhere else — we still do it).
You are a winemaker, and you are French.
Do you think that wine can be either French or none?
Not at all!
There are fine wines in Italy, in Spain, and in Chile, and in Russia — I tried very good wine from the Krasnodar Territory, unfortunately, I did not remember its name.
And what kind of wines are stored in your own cellar?