Olivier Bernstein is one of the hottest negociants in Burgundy, he is undoubtedly a new breed of premium negociant that is producing wines which have superior quality over most Maisons and Domaines. With his splendid quality of Premier Cru and Grand Crus, as well as his controversial and aggressive En Premier release pricing in the past three vintages, Olivier Bernstein has quickly gained a reputation.
Born in Touaine, Olivier Bernstein was raised in a family with the fondness of classical music and good taste. In 2002, Olivier bought 8 hectares of vineyard in Roussillon and started making wines. However, Olivier has always been fond of great Burgundies and naturally he went to Beaune pursued his dream of producing wines in Burgundy. 2007 was his first vintage in Burgundy and his wines were right away highly rated by Allen Meadows and Jancis Robinson, a star was born.
Sourcing grapes from highly regarded vineyards, especially Grand Crus is not an easy task that can be done overnight, it requires making lots of connections and building good relationships with grape growers and vineyard owners. Opportunely, Olivier Bernstein approached the grape growers as a winemaker from Roussillon and he was willing to pay a significant premium to the grapes growers/ vineyard owners to ensure he gets the best grapes every year, as well as to be able to employ quality control on the vineyards, such as ensuring yields are low and quality of grapes are up to his high standards. Olivier works with c. 20 grape growers in Burgundy for his portfolio of Premier and Grand Cru grapes.
Olivier doesn’t sell much wines within France as he believes his wines ultimately end up in other markets where consumers are willing to pay a higher price, such as: Japan, China, US, etc. Hence 99% of Olivier Bernstein’s wines are exported.
Olivier Bernstein emphasis on the quality of the grapes and mostly buys grapes that were grown from old vines. Olivier uses 100% low toast new oak barrels on all his wines, barrels are from Chassin (more known for using in Chardonnay than Pinot Noir). 80% whole cluster and pump over for softer extraction. Wines are aged in oak for c. 14 months. Olivier Bernstein’s 2017 was excellent throughout, all his wines showed wonderful concentration and depth that resembles 2016 red Burgundy rather than the lighter and more approachable style of 2017. 2017 was a generous vintage for most producers, however Olivier Bernstein had low yields and only produced 24,000 bottles of wines from 7 hectares of vineyards he ‘managed’, 3.5ha are contracted and managed by Olivier’s team, and 3.5ha are purchased grapes without contract.
Gevrey Chambertin 2017
Despite the large wall sign outside of the estate “Olivier Bernstein – Premiers & Grand Crus”, they still make one village wine, a Gevrey Chambertin that is sold to selective markets only. This 2017 Gevrey Chambertin is from a vineyard near Mazis Chambertin, 40-80 year old vines. It offers lovely richness and juicy red currant fruits, lovely depth for a village. Alluring fragrant with supple sweet oak toast. Impressive village level. (85-87/100)
Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Lavrottes 2017
Only 4 barrels produced in 2017. 100% low toast new oak and 80% whole cluster worked well with the Chambolle Musigny terroir, perfumed Chambolle earth, high pitched red cherry, bubbly mixed fruits and scented ripe stems. Surprisingly concentrated for a 2017, tasted more like a 2016 than the usual 2017. Spicy toast with un underlying floral component. (87-89/100)
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Champeaux 2017
4-5 barrels produced in 2017. Olivier Bernstein actually owns a tiny vineyard in Champeaux (c. 0.02ha) that was purchased in 2012. Beautiful richness and ample toasted spices, fragrant and exotic. There is an inkier darker shade of fruits than the Chambolle Musigny Les Lavrottes. Impressive concentration that defies the general vintage characteristics of 2017. (88-90/100)
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetieres 2017
The Cazetieres offer a distinctive blueberry fruit from this terroir, similar characteristics to Armand Rousseau’s Cazetieres. Medium bodied with refreshing acidity that balances out the wood tannins well. Good richness and depth at a similar level to Les Champeaux. A wine that can be drunk in the next 5 years but will age for a long time. (88-90/100)
Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 2017
5-6 barrels produced in 2017. Grapes are from across the road next to mid-section of Chambertin. Olivier Bernstein’s Charmes Chambertin offers incredible concentration that is not usually found in this terroir (with the exception of Denis Bachelet’s Charmes Chambertin). Sexy and exotic spices with in-depth dark fruits. A serious Charmes Chambertin with good power. (92-93/100)
Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2017
6-7 barrels produced. Olivier buys grapes from a plot with 80 year old vines right below Meo Camuzet’s Vougeot plot. This is one of the most impressive Clos Vougeot out there, stunning concentration and power that reminds us not all Vougeot are uninspiring. Powerful flavours of dark berries with juicy cherry. The big-boned structure suggests its longevity, 30 years+ easily. (93-94/100)
Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2017
5-6 barrels produced. 60 year old vines. The 2017 Clos de la Roche is not as concentrated as the Clos Vougeot but offering the typical Clos de la Roche herb rack and earthy cherry nose. Plenty of wood spices and low pitched thyme note. (92-93/100)
Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 2017
The 2017 Bonnes Mares is a robust Grand Cru in a strict manner. Intense dark fruits of black cherry, blackberry, cloves, glossy wood smoke mixed with gravel. Full-bodied with punchy fruits and stern tannins. A big-boned Bonnes Mares that needs more time to resolve its structure, but I can imagine this will drink beautifully in the next 20 years or so. (92-93/100)
Mazis Chambertin Grand Cru 2017
The Mazis Chambertin is one of Olivier’s flagship wines. Olivier Bernstein owns a tiny vineyard in Mazis Chambertin (0.02ha) along with his c. 0.02ha plot in Les Champeaux. 5 barrels produced in 2017. The Mazis Chambertin offers an energetic array of mixed cherry fruits, exotic spices and charming wood toast. Impressive depth and potent fruits. (94-95/100)
Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru 2017
Only 4 barrels of Clos de Beze produced in 2017. The 2017 Chambertin Clos de Beze is absolutely gorgeous. It is a Clos de Beze with power and grace. Perfumed nose of spiced cherry, violet, dark berries, Indian spices and layered earthy berries highlighted by the high toast. Great complexity and nuances with a tannic backbone. Marvellous length. One of my favourites of the lineup. (95-96/100)
Chambertin Grand Cru 2017
Only 4 barrels produced in 2017. The 2017 Chambertin is the flagship wine of Olivier Bernstein, it offers more structure and power than the majestic Clos de Beze. This is a powerhouse Chambertin with deeply laced saturated fruits, spiced earth and blackberry. Great phenolic ripeness, incredible concentration and persistence. A knockout wine with extremely long length. (96-97/100)