Olivier Bernstein Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru 2011
The wine offers a delicate and airy nose composed of diverse fresh fruits. On the palate, the balance is perfect, the tannins are fine and satiny and the length is impressive. This is true elegance!
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 92-95
Born in Touraine, Bernstein’s family business is rooted not in wine but in classical music. His grandfather founded Barenreiter, a publishing company famous for its scores by world-renowned composers such as Mozart, Bach and Schubert, and Bernstein grew up in a home where creativity and flair were valued alongside hard work. Olivier’s early business ventures took him into the rail industry working with TGV, but despite travelling the world to work both far (Taiwan and Venezuela) and near (Cassel in Germany) the pull of his desire to become a winemaker meant he returned to France. Taking his first formal steps towards fulfilling this ambition, Bernstein undertook a degree in viticulture in Beaune. “I needed to grow something for myself,” he says. “I had a precise goal: an ambition to make pure, balanced wines that combine both mouth-filling depth and magnificent delicacy.”
At the age of 35, he moved to the south of France (Tautavel, Roussillon) and acquired eight hectares of vineyard. “I bought a tractor and started out by doing everything by myself, learning viticulture and learning the industry. It was complicated, it was hard work but the successes were so rewarding,” Bernstein says. “My dream, though, was always Burgundy, and I made the move there in 2007.” Starting from scratch again, Bernstein began by renting space in Gevrey-Chambertin. It was here that he met Richard Seguin, the man who would later become his cellar master: “We began talking while sorting grapes – we were both the only people working a Sunday!” says Bernstein. In 2008, Seguin came to join Bernstein full-time. “I was lucky with the timing of my move,” says Bernstein. “I was able to take on some really interesting vineyards with wonderful old vines. Now, whether working on the vineyards I own, or those we rent, I am able to farm entirely as I want to. We do all the viticulture ourselves. The whole process from the vineyard to the bottle lasts around 30 months, during which we have a thousand decisions to make which will influence the wine – in those choices, there must be no compromise,” he explains.
In 2012 Olivier Bernstein was able to purchase vines in the Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru vineyard Les Champeaux and the Grand Cru Mazis-Chambertin. He has also settled into his fabulous premises in the heart of Beaune, an essential visit for the serious lover of Bernstein wines.
Today, Bernstein’s seven Grands Crus and three Premiers Crus plots have a wealth of old vines, which are fundamental to the quality of his wines. All but one of the Bernstein vineyard plots are at least 40 years old; most are between 60 and 80 years-old. While officially acting with negociant status, Olivier and his team take responsibility for the vineyard work on their plots.
This small village is home to the Grands Crus in the farthest northerly stretches of Côte de Nuits and is famous for some of the deepest and firmest Burgundian Pinot Noir.
Gevrey boasts nine Grands Crus, the best of which are arguably Le Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. As with all of the fragmented vineyards of Burgundy, it isn’t easy to differentiate between the two, which are situated adjacent with Clos de Bèze slightly further up the hill than Le Chambertin. Clos de Bèze has a shallower soil and if you’re really counting, may produce wines less intense but more likely to charm. Some compare Le Chambertin in both power and plentitude only to the prized Romanée-Conti Grand Cru farther south in Vosne-Romanée.
Two other Grands Crus vineyards, Mazis-Chambertin (also written Mazy-) and Latricières-Chambertin command almost as much regard as Le Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. The upper part of Mazy, called Les Mazis Haut is the best and Latricières-Chambertin offers an abundance of juicy fruit and a silky texture in the warmer vintages.
Other Grands Crus are Ruchottes-Chambertin, Charmes-Chambertin, Mazoyères-Chambertin, Griotte-Chambertin and Chapelle-Chambertin.
The most respected Pinot Noir wines from Gevrey-Chambertin are robust and powerful but at the same time, velvety and expressive: black fruit, black liquorice and chocolate come into play. After some time in the bottle, the wines are harmonious with bright and sometimes candied fruit, and aromas of musk, truffle and forest floor. These have staying power.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”