Interview with Stéphany Lesaint

Hello Stéphany.

Hello Ambre!


How long have you been working at Château Mazeyres and what is your role?

I arrived at Mazeyres in time to celebrate the new year on 3 January 2013. I am assistant manager to Alain Moueix. He gives the directions, we follow the paths (smiles).


I noted that your role as assistant manager to Alain is a creative one. Instructions are interpreted rather than executed, and lead to suggestions whenever possible. So your work is not just technical.

Alain gives me the trust I need, and plenty of freedom within my role. I love this privilege. I organise my work in a very personal way, and behind the scenes I do what is needed to achieve the results he expects. The aim is always clear and instructions are not separated from their specific intentions, which allows me to pick them up.


How would you describe your working atmosphere at Mazeyres in a couple of sentences? So far you have spoken about trust and freedom, strong indicators that you are faring well at the estate.

Yes, this real (and not overplayed) trust regarding the requirements of good working relationships forms the basis for the creativity I have been able to show. In some places, if an employee takes the initiative, people immediately dismiss it as irrelevant. Here there is a real sense of coming together, not just with Alain but also with you, Ambre, living on site and sometimes observing our work. Personal expression is made possible by this feeling of being comfortable in yourself. Alain Moueix’s generosity also sparks a form of one-upmanship. This is a flourishing upward trend that creates a level of serenity. All I have experienced on a professional and also personal level gains an opportunity for expression here, and feeds our work.


In 2017, at the en primeur conference given by Pierre Guigui at Château Fonroque, a biodynamic winegrower highlighted the deep transformation this practice had brought about within her. This went well beyond just the professional arena, and is the impression that I also get from what you have said. The environmental and ecological argument was far exceeded in favour of an ecology of self.

I totally understand. In a way, the rhythms suggested by biodynamics shape us. You ‘work’ and are ‘worked’ at the same time, because these practices involve every part of you from head to toe.


That leads on to and answers some of my next question. Has your role as assistant manager been changed by working at a biodynamic estate, compared with an estate that uses conventional winegrowing? Because the difference is clear when talking about the land, but perhaps more subtle when talking about administrative and communications work behind the scenes. You also have experience in both types.

I would say that there is more flow between the different people involved. We are not isolated and fixed in our roles. Jean-Michel, the head of winegrowing, and I speak every morning, cellar master Ludovic often discusses wines, and Delphine, as the team leader, regularly talks about her daily life, and no-one seems to think that it is none of anyone else’s business. Alain’s independent spirit is reflected everywhere. We are not necessarily immune to all those things that drive and disrupt the whole human race, but there is a true sense of working together to complete the mission that has been entrusted to us. The aim is of course to make the best wine possible, and this is what brings us together. It is a collection of vital forces focusing on what really matters, a partitioning of skills but not of people. And although this team spirit and solidarity can be found in estates that are not biodynamically run, this cultivation method nevertheless requires a particular level of coordination. I would also say that there is something spiritual about these relationships, beyond words. There are of course other wonderful places to work, but talking to colleagues from other estates, I often hear how lucky I am. And I think they are right.


Could you tell me about one or two key events from your professional life at Mazeyres? I consider you a particularly sensitive person able to capture the salient features of everyday life, but maybe there is one you remember and might like to share with us.

My arrival here was an upheaval, a tipping point, a significant event that is still as important as ever. It has been a journey full of surprises. However, what amazed me at first was the contrast with my previous job. The silence and calm that reigned allowed me to do my work without being continually interrupted, and with the application and concentration I wanted to devote to it. This was a very powerful feeling, as I regained my effectiveness, readiness and ability to achieve satisfying and thus pleasing results. I could be very busy without feeling under siege. I was very much on my own and it was a little dizzying, but now I have tamed this solitude.

Next, 5 September 2013 was a date that very much left its mark on me. Nine months after my arrival, fifty-odd chairs were set out around the Mazeyres steps to listen to an evening of music performed by a pair of musicians (ambreozchristophejodet-PURCELL), followed by a dinner in the Place de Bordeaux to celebrate 20 years of working with Alain Moueix. I really felt the spiritual side of this location. The music was the binding force. Art was a subtle part of the place, alongside its agricultural vocation. It was very powerful. I believe that Alain makes us better by organising things like this.


Which is your favourite vintage and why?

I love the 2012 vintage of Mazeyres. It is hugely fresh with incredible charm and wonderful roundness. Not harsh or austere, but hugely vibrant. It was the first biodynamic vintage at Mazeyres, and the first time that I tasted it I felt an energy going far beyond previous vintages. I adored it and it sold fantastically well. During the summer it was bottled, it was flying off the shelves, and when the cellar master Ludovic got back from holiday he asked what I had done with the stocks whilst he was away. I love this vintage’s complete package of a wine, and I am not the only one, as there is virtually none of it left. During vertical tastings, the arrival of biodynamics at Mazeyres is clearly evident, despite how much I enjoy drinking certain vintages from before the certification – such as 2011, or of course 2010. Even more precision and purity has been added since. And now, with the 2016, every part of the wine seems to be in its rightful place. It is marvellous. All the effort put in has paid off. It is a historic vintage.


If you had one request or idea for how you could enhance or support your work, what would it be?

I think that I would like to watch the blending process and do more tasting with Alain and Ludovic. It is a part of the winemaking process that particularly interests me. Otherwise, I would like more meetings to share experiences, more time with Alain and the team. Or perhaps, a meeting once a year in line with the seasons, where he would tell us more about things that he has skim over slightly during tastings and that would be exciting to delve further into. What is written here is captivating, and I believe that it needs to be spread as far and wide as possible. These words are not dead, they are very much alive.


‘Living being’ is a term that could define you well, thanks to the emotion and wealth of life brimming from your words. Thank you Stéphany.

Yes, emotion is definitely allowed here, it is how we become part of the world! Thank you for being part of the world.