In a very short space of time Olivier Bernstein has established himself as a new star in Burgundy, receiving superb press notices from his very first vintage, 2007 from both Jancis Robinson and Allen Meadows among others.
The range focuses on six grands crus from the Côte de Nuits: a trio from Gevrey-Chambertin, specifically Charmes-Chambertin, Mazis-Chambertin and Chambertin Clos de Bèze; along with Clos de Vougeot, Bonnes Mares and Clos de la Roche. These are supported by three 1ers crus, three white wines and a single village cuvee from Gevrey-Chambertin. Naturally, production of each wine is tiny, considering the low yields coming from old vines.
Bernstein comes from a family of music publishers, but left a promising corporate career to study oenology in Beaune. After working harvest at Domaine Rouget, which enabled him to meet the late Henri Jayer, during the 2002 vintage, he moved to Roussillon to found his own Domaine, Mas de la Deveze. He returned in Burgundy in 2007 to establish a négociant business.
Since then, Olivier has managed to get close to his vineyard sources. He now manages the vineyard work for all but one of his sources and – a wonderful opportunity – has managed to buy two of the vineyards he has worked with since the start: Gevrey-Chambertin Les Champeaux and Mazis Chambertin. It is rare for grand cru vineyards to change hands so this is a major coup.
These vineyards follow the common thread of old vines – more than 80 years old in the case of the Mazis – which enables Olivier to work with excellent raw material. During vinification the wines are very lightly handled, with a good proportion of stems included to maintain a lively thread throughout, while the barrels are made to order by master cooper Stéphane Chassin, who comes to taste the new vintage before deciding what type of toasting will suit each individual wine. The 1er and grand cru wines are matured in new wood from the start. This takes place in the new Bernstein headquarters, some marvellous reconditioned old cellars in the heart of Beaune.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook