Had lunch on Thursday with Olivier Bernsteinm (above), along with some other journos and the fabulous Simon Staples at Berry Brothers & Rudd.
Olivier was born in the Loire, and his grandfather founded a music publishing house. It was while he was working in international management that Olivier caught the wine bug and did a degree in winemaking and viticulture at Beaune. He bought an old farmhouse in the Roussillon, and with 8 hectares of vines formed Mas de la Deveze in 2002. But his true love was Burgundy, and in 2007 he started a micronegociant operation under his own name.
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.’
The word is out that one individual is willing to pay 2 million Euros per ouvree of Grand Cru vineyard, which would value the land at 48 million Euros per hectare. 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.
We drank a range of his wines, and my notes are as follows.
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
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