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Interview: Olivier Trégoat, new Technical Director of DBR (Lafite) estates outside Bordeaux

At 42, Olivier Trégoat has been appointed Technical Director of DBR (Lafite) properties outside Bordeaux. He will now be supervising Domaine d’Aussières (Languedoc), Viña Los Vascos (Chile), Bodegas CARO (Argentina) and Domain of Penglaï in China. He is taking over from Eric Kohler, who will now manage the group’s Bordeaux properties.

A fine challenge for this passionate and fascinating man. We invite you to get to know him in this interview.

 

DBR (Lafite): Olivier Trégoat, last December DBR (Lafite) officially appointed you as Technical Director of the group’s international properties.
Can you tell us a little more about your career?

Olivier Trégoat (OT): I am an agricultural engineer and oenologist by training. I very quickly put down roots in the Bordeaux region, because between 1999 and 2002 I wrote a thesis on the study of soils and sub-soils of the greatest winemaking properties in the region, the “Club of 8” as they are known, namely Château Ausone, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Haut-Brion, Château Latour, Château Margaux, Château Mouton-Rothschild, Pétrus and of course Château Lafite Rothschild.
This was a terrific experience for me, with the chance to meet the teams from the châteaux, and it was exactly at this time that I first met Eric Kohler, who was then working at Lafite.

DBR (Lafite): Your career started in the Bordeaux region, though it was in the Languedoc that your working relationship with DBR (Lafite) really began?

OT:  This is true. I am fortunate that my personal choices have favourably influenced my professional opportunities.
After this soil study, which represented a major step in my career, I followed my wife who had a professional project in the Languedoc.
I started by working in a very well-established laboratory in the region. Over five years, I learned an enormous amount about this region through monitoring the vinifications in a large number of vineyards. Even though working as a service provider, you get close to the teams and to the issues that you have to deal with. Domaine d’Aussières was one of the vineyards we followed and this was how I got back in contact with the DBR (Lafite) group.

DBR (Lafite): You initially worked as a consultant for Domaine d’Aussières?

OT:  Exactly that. In 2003, strengthened by my experience acquired in the Languedoc, I started working as an independent consultant specialising in the expert assessment of soils and vineyards. I guided the viticultural practices in estates after having first defined the winemaking potential of the property thanks to a thorough analysis of the soils.
This activity was to last for 12 years, until last year!

In 2004 Eric Kohler, who had been appointed Technical Director of Domaine d’Aussières, called on my services. Having first met at Lafite we met again in the Languedoc, it is rather funny.
The DBR (Lafite) group had acquired the property in 1999. The objective was to give a new lease of life to this property, which the teams believed in enormously. Of course this gamble pleased me greatly, because I was convinced of the potential of the land.  In 2004 the estate had already undergone a vast restoration plan. I worked on preparing a map of the soils and sub-soils at Aussières between 2005 and 2006, to support the quality efforts being carried out at the property.
The quality of Aussière’s wines today is very appreciable, indeed remarkable for the first wine. I hope that I contributed a little to achieving this!

DBR (Lafite): Our partners may not know you, but you have been working behind the scenes in the winemaking activities of DBR (Lafite) since 2004?

OT: Yes, a little . . . but we must be accurate.
I essentially worked on international development projects. My profession as a consultant led me to work in the Languedoc, in Bordeaux but also overseas, in Turkey, in Spain and in China. So I acquired extensive knowledge of different terroirs subject to different climates.
In 2009, when Eric Kohler was appointed Technical Director of the group’s international properties, he thought of me, so that we could reproduce the same analytical and mapping work that had been carried out at Aussières.

DBR (Lafite): Which projects have you undertaken with Eric Kohler in our properties?

OT: At Viña Los Vascos, the work was quite similar to that undertaken at Aussières, the study was mostly concentrated on analysis of the water regime, a key point in hot countries. I had the opportunity to bring my skills in irrigation control to DBR. We therefore prepared the transition to a drip irrigation system. We also acquired new vineyard parcels destined for the cuvée Grande Réserve.
In China, at the Domain of Penglaï I had the chance to participate in the first ground-breaking and the first plantings.

DBR (Lafite): What are your objectives in arriving as Technical Director at DBR (Lafite)?

OT: I am passionate about the land and I have learned over the years as a consultant for DBR (Lafite) that we share the same vision: to respect the land, the climate, and to have a long-term vision for the estates that we choose to develop. I am not going to do anything revolutionary, but rather continue the quality efforts initiated by the group with Christophe Salin at its head.
It is a question of continuing the work of Eric Kohler and the teams at Aussières, Los Vascos, Bodegas CARO and Penglaï. They are all very committed people.

At Los Vascos and Aussières, we are now reaping the fruits of the work undertaken over the past decade, while always remaining vigilant.
At Penglaï we are eagerly awaiting the next plantings.
Finally at Bodegas CARO we have some great projects coming up with the Catena family.