- Rioja, Spain
Olivier was born and raised south of Bordeaux, in Cognac. He studied enology in Montagne St-Emilion, focusing on biodynamic farming and cut his teeth working for such luminaries as Domaine de Chassorney, Elian da Ros and Domaine Leroy. In 2004 he was lured into Spain by Telmo Rodriguez to help him convert his vineyards to biodynamics. By 2006 he had started his first project in Rioja.
Coming from France, Olivier has an innate sense of terroir. Unlike many of his peers in Rioja, he bases his cuvées not on political boundaries or the length of barrel aging but on terroir. He believes in a quality hierarchy inspired by Burgundy with generic Appellation and Village wines at the base and Premier and Grand cru wines at the top. This is how to best understand what Olivier is doing in Rioja, rather than the traditional Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva model. As Olivier has steadily and carefully grown his production, he’s been hampered by the high prices for land and grapes in Rioja. As a result, he ventured into Arlanza; a relatively new DO located between Rioja and Ribera del Duero. In Arlanza, he found high-elevation vineyards of Tempranillo (some quite ancient) intermixed with a scattering of Garnacha and Albillo. This mountain fruit is potentially sterner stuff than what Olivier had grown accustomed to in Rioja, but it is remarkably vibrant and complex in his hands.
In keeping with his education and avocation, nearly all of Olivier’s vineyard sources – whether owned or leased – are farmed organically with biodynamic practices. The fruit is harvested by hand, and each variety is fermented separately. Depending on the source, it may be partially destemmed or fermented whole cluster. Fermentations are with indigenous yeasts. Macerations are gentle and short. Aging takes place in stainless steel or cement tanks, foudre, and barrel. SO2 is kept to a minimum, usually added only before bottling.
These wines represent a novel approach that relies almost entirely on the specificity of site and the transparency of his winemaking necessary to capture it.