Olivier Bernstein   
High quality micronegociant and now vineyard owner in Burgundy


One of a new breed of micronegociant, Olivier Bernstein (above) began making wines in Burgundy in 2007. He focuses on making tiny quantities of wine from premier and grand cru vineyards.

He has a musical background: his father founded a music publishing house. But Olivier established his own career in what his website describes as ‘international management’, only to leave this for the lure of making wine. He studied viticulture and enology at Beaune, and his first foray into winemaking was in Tautavel in the Roussillon, in 2002, when he purchased 8 hectares of vines. But Burgundy was in his blood—he was inspired by a short spell working with the late Henri Jayer, and five years later was to take the plunge and start out in his favourite region.

He buys grapes solely from premier and grand cru vineyards, and in 2012 he purchased his first vineyard parcels (Grand Cru Mazis Chambertin and Gevrey 1er Cru Les Champeaux). He says prices for 1er and Grand Cru grapes has doubled over the last seven years. ‘I was lucky when I started in 2007,’ says Bernstein. ‘I entered the game at a period when demand was not so crazy. It has increased every year.’ He adds, ‘Bordeaux was too expensive, so a lot of people came to Burgundy. The luxury groups in France want to buy land and make offers that are so crazy that the owners think they can increase the price of everything. What I did seven years ago is now impossible.’

Since Bernstein bought his vineyard parcels in 2012 he has received offers for them five times higher than what he paid. ‘Burgundy is becoming the Village d’Asterix,’ says Bernstein, likening it to a theme park.


Olivier Bernstein Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Gain 2011 Burgundy, France
Nice precision with some lemon and toast notes, as well as hints of peachy richness and subtle nuts. Stylish. 93/100

Olivier Bernstein Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2011 Burgundy, France
Wonderfully precise with nice minerality and a hint of matchstick. Real detail here. Lovely lemony precision with citrus and subtle herb notes. Really mineral. Showing real precision and focus. 95/100

Olivier Bernstein Gevrey Chambertin Les Champeaux 1er Cru 2008 Burgundy, France
Sweet cherries and plums. Well defined with juicy focus and nice tannins. Taut and with an appealing spicy dimension, still quite primary but lovely with it. 93/100

Olivier Bernstein Gevrey Chambertin 2008 Burgundy, France
Supple, structured and pure with some plums, cherries and spice. Really nice structure. Ripe and fresh with good precision. 92/100

Olivier Bernstein Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Lavrottes 2010 Burgundy, France
Sweet, lush, ripe and floral with some subtle pepper spice and plummy fruit. Generous with black cherries sitting over nice structure. Lovely finesse here. 94/100

Olivier Bernstein Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetiers 2011 Burgundy, France
Fresh, robust and nicely reductive with taut fruit and some nice matchstick notes. Fresh black cherries and plums. taut, youthful and reduced with great future potential. 95/100

Olivier Bernstein Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2009 Burgundy, France
Supple, sweet and structured with bright cherry and plum fruit. Quite dense with lovely weight and structure. very fine, and needs more time. 95/100

Older notes from 2009:

I tasted through these wines from Bernstein’s inaugural vintage, and I have to say that I wasn’t as impressed as I should have been. Almost everything is right: the packaging, the story, the vineyard sources. But the wines didn’t charm or thrill in the way that great Burgundy can, with the exception of the Charmes Chambertin. I’d have loved to have liked these wines more, and it would certainly be more comfortable for me if I could (everyone else seems to have heaped effusive, almost reverent praise on them, and they have sold out).

The wines are available from Berry Bros & Rudd, and prices given are per six-pack, in bond.

Olivier Bernstein Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes 2007
Very distinctive, almost minty nose, which is nutty and toasty with a hint of minerality. The palate is fresh and dense with a slightly minty iodine-like quality. Very unusual. 89/100 (£312)

Olivier Bernstein Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Lavrottes 2007
Lovely aromatic nose: cherries, herbs, hint of mint. The palate is fresh and pure with lovely cherry fruit bolstered by some minty notes. 89/100 (£276)

Olivier Bernstein Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Champeaux 2007
Sweet herby cherry fruit nose is pure and sleek. The palate has some herbal, spicy complexity to the well structured yet pure cherry fruit. 91/100 (£312)  

Olivier Bernstein Vosné Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots 2007
Sweet, spicy vanilla oak on the nose as well as some pure red berry and cherry fruit. Dense, spicy, structured palate with lovely fresh, pure cherry fruit. Finishes spicy. 91/100 (£350)

Olivier Bernstein Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 2007
This is very stylish. Focused, sweet pure red berry/cherry fruit nose with some spicy, complex herby notes. The palate has ripeness, sweet pure cherry fruit and lovely depth and structure, with sophisticated oak playing a supporting role. 93/100 (540)

Olivier Bernstein Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2007
Taut, spicy, herbal nose with some roasted oak notes. The palate shows dense, quite pretty pure dark cherry fruit with a savoury edge and a minty finish. 91/100 (£594)

Olivier Bernstein Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 2007
Slight baked roasted dark cherry fruit nose. The palate is concentrated, dense and savoury with slightly bitter plummy fruit. Structured and firm with a bitter finish. 89/100 (£660)

See also:

Domaine de la Romanee Conti's latest releases
Visiting Burgundy (series)

Wines tasted 09/14  
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