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Average critic rating : 88.0 points
The 2012 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Champeaux comes from a parcel bought by Olivier Bernstein just after the harvest last year and it is raised entirely in new oak without racking. Fragrant and perfumed on the floral nose, it shows fine clarity and delineation. The palate is tensile on the finish with crisp red fruit, fine acidity, leading to a compact and linear finish that should fill out by the time of bottling. ||I remember receiving an invitation to taste the wines of Olivier Bernstein several years ago in London. “Olivier Bernstein?” I thought to myself. “Never ‘eard of ‘im. Sounds more like a grower from Alsace.” It was actually Olivier’s maiden vintage and I soon learned that the Touraine-born winemaker came from a famous music publishing family had caught the wine bug that led to him studying oenology in Dijon that led to him establishing a winery in Roussillon in 2002, a year during which he did a brief stage with Henri Jayer. Maison Olivier Bernstein arrived five years later. The wines were not cheap, and perhaps there was a bit of hubris given that absence of a track record, although as the my cached notes on his 2007s testify, they wines made a positive impressive: sleek, very pure, polished and crafted – seductive wines where clearly a great deal of effort had been gone into their craftsmanship, wines that knew they had to impress critics like myself, as well as Burgundy lovers who needed an explanation exactly why they should hedge their bets on a relative unknown given the plethora of alternatives. For one reason or another, I did not revisit the wines until I walked from my hotel to Olivier’s winery near the center of the town, ensconced not in some “out-of-town” warehouse facility, but nestled in Beaune’s cobbled streets alongside stalwarts such as Joseph Drouhin, Albert Bichot and Bouchard Pere & Fils. Olivier himself was as convivial as I remembered him: round beaming face, loquacious as ever, eager to discuss his wines and given his spanking new winery, clearly not short of a bob or two. Yet he seems conscientious that brashness and arrogance go down poorly in this tightly knit community that does not do self-aggrandizement. Burgundy has never been a region where you can just barge in with premium price tags. You have to prove yourself against the most demanding cognoscenti in the world. And with this backdrop in mind, I have to say that for the most part these wines do deliver. The danger was that I would find the wines over-eager to impress, resorting to excessive ripeness, extraction and toasty new oak. But I found that not to be the case. Partly because Olivier and his cellar master (incidentally, the nephew of Bernard Dugat of Domaine Dugat-Py) has the nous to hone in upon parcels of old vines, something that is becoming increasingly difficult as demand has increased. “We have selected only very old vines between 60 to 80 years old, with the exception of the Chambolle-Musigny Les Lavrottes, which is just under Bonnes-Mares,” Olivier explained. “They produce naturally small yields. All the fruit is out-sourced from contracted growers, but we do the vineyard husbandry as if we were the owners. I like to have 5 or 6 barrels of wine at least not just 1 or 2 to be viable. In 2012 we used 50% whole cluster, but when we started in 2007, we did not use any as I was discovering the vineyards.” And Olivier has taken the next logical step in purchasing his first vineyards in Mazis-Chambertin and Gevrey Les Champeaux. Olivier’s wines are well worth a look – the quality is definitely tangible in these svelte and charming wines. No, not every cru is without fault and with such panache, what I would like to see is a little more of that great intangible?soul. But that is seeping through with these 2012s. eRobertParker.com.December, 2013
Olivier Bernstain comes from a musical family background and it was not until 2002, at 35 years of age, that he acquired his first 8 hectares of vineyard to cultivate in Rousillon. In 2007 he returned to his passion for Pinot Noir and has created a boutique negociant dealing in the top vineyards of Burgundy. Small yields, old vines, new barrels and no fining or filtrating mean that any grapes going into fermentation must be perfect. A new generation of wine making? Olivier has acheived rpaid international success for this range of wines.
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