Trade Tasting Arranged By Wilson Daniels – Los Angeles, CA June 9, 2014
Olivier Bernstein started his business with the 2007 vintage. With the exception of two vineyard parcels which are owned (Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Champeaux” and Mazis Chambertin), all grapes come from vineyards which are under contract. These contracts call for payment to the growers for maximum yield. Olivier farms the vineyards to control the yields and vinifies and bottles the wines. Since every aspect of the growing, wine making, bottling and marketing is under the direction of Olivier, it is Domaine Olivier Bernstein. The domaine has been built by purchasing grapes from the same growers each year with a few leaving and a few others added. In addition, in 2012 the purchase of Les Champeaux and Mazis Chambertin was finalized. Today the production consists of entirely Red Burgundy from 3 Premier Crus and 7 Grand Crus. The production in 2012 totals only 3000 cases of 6 bottles plus a few magnums. Old vines are the focus. Of the 10 parcels only 1 has young vines and that is Chambolle-Musigny “Les Lavrottes” 1er Cru where the vines are 15 years old. All the other parcels have vines that range in age from 40 years to over 80 years.
I first visited here with contributing editor Geoffrey Troy in the fall of 2010 when we tasted the 2009 vintage (to read that article click here).
At that time the winery was located in a facility in Gevrey. We were impressed with the wines, but noted they were showing a distinct spiciness that was imparted from new wood. Returning in 2011 to taste the 2010s we were even more impressed (to read that article click here).
The wines showed more purity of fruit and were beautifully balanced. This was a result of the vintage, but also the less obvious wood influence. By 2012 the winery had relocated to a beautiful restored facility in Beaune. We went there to taste the 2011s which at that time were not in a state of evolution to make an assessment. Last year (when I was unable to go on the trip) contributing editor John Brincko, who had never tasted any wines from Domaine Olivier Bernstein, went to taste the 2012s and was really impressed calling them some of the best 2012s that he tasted on the trip (to read that article click here).
Recently, accompanied by my friend and contributing editor, John Brincko, I went to a trade tasting where we were also joined by contributing editors Ed Lazarus and Bipin Desai. The tasting was arranged by Wilson Daniels who is the exclusive U.S. importer for Domaine Olivier Bernstein. The tasting consisted of all 10 of the wines from the 2012 vintage (the Chambertin was added in 2012). The 2012s were just bottled about a month prior to the tasting. And for the 2011 vintage there were 9 wines.
Olivier thinks that 2012 is a great vintage where the wines can be enjoyed young and also cellared for very long time. The 2011s he also thinks are great and under rated. The difference being that the 2011s are more tightly structured and will require more time to show their full potential. For that reason the 2012s are being sold now and the 2011s will be sold later this year (pricing has not yet been set).
It was a stand up tasting. This is not the type of tasting that lends itself to taking detailed notes. Stand up tastings are more like tasting wines from barrel in the sense that the wines are tasted very quickly without the ability to leave the wines sit and taste over a long period of time. But what was obvious was that the wines were very consistent across the range in both vintages. Below is information on all the wines and my general observations and abbreviated notes as well as ratings on the wines from the 2012 and 2011 vintages. The wines from the 2 vintages are really quite different, but very impressive. We said from the beginning that this is a name to watch. These wines certainly warrant the attention of every Burgundy lover. I believe in eating my own cooking, so many of the Domaine Olivier Bernstein Burgundies will be going into my cellar.
Ratings, Bottle Prices, and Production Numbers
2012 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Chambolle-Musigny “Les Lavrottes” 1er Cru – Highly Recommended. $148 400 cases of six
2012 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Gevrey- Chambertin “Les Champeaux” 1er Cru –Highly Recommended Plus. $158 200 cases of six
2012 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Cazetiers” 1er Cru – Outstanding Plus. $182 400 cases of six
2012 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Charmes-Chambertin – Outstanding Plus. $350 250 cases of 6
2012 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Clos de Vougeot – Outstanding Plus. $350 300 cases of six
2012 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Clos de la Roche – Outstanding Plus. $362 300 cases of six
2012 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Bonnes-Mares – Outstanding Plus. $362 275 cases of six
2012 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Mazis-Chambertin – Outstanding Plus. $454 375 cases of six
2012 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Chambertin Clos-de-Bèze – Extraordinary. $544 250 cases of six
2012 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Chambertin – Extraordinary. $544 250 cases of six
2011 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Chambolle-Musigny “Les Lavrottes” 1er Cru – Highly Recommended. $ NA 470 cases of six
2012 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Gevrey- Chambertin “Les Champeaux” 1er Cru –Highly Recommended. $ NA 300 cases of six
2012 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Cazetiers” 1er Cru – Outstanding. $ NA 540 cases of six
2011 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Charmes-Chambertin – Outstanding Plus. $ NA 300 cases of 6 300 cases of six
2011 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Clos de Vougeot – Outstanding. $ NA 470 cases of six
2011 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Clos de la Roche – Outstanding Plus. $ NA 370 cases of six
2011 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Bonnes-Mares – Outstanding. $ NA 300 cases of six
2011 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Mazis-Chambertin – Outstanding. $ NA 540 case of six
2011 Domaine Olivier Bernstein Chambertin Clos-de-Bèze – Extraordinary. $ NA 400 cases of six
General Impressions and Tasting Notes
The 2012 Olivier Bernstein wines are stunning and very consistent across the range in the sense that they are beautifully balanced with structure, intensity, and great fruit. They are delicious to drink even at this very early age. This is even more remarkable considering that the wines had only been bottled about a month ago and traveled a long ways to get here. But, as tempted as you might to drink them young, this is a mistake. They are classic wines that will age gracefully over decades. These are wines to buy!
Chambolle-Musigny “Les Lavrottes” 1er Cru. The vines here are the only young vines in the domaine with an age of 15 years. The vineyard is situated below Bonnes-Mares. Very pure fruit with a lovely floral perfume. This is a supple elegant wine with a lot of charm.
Gevrey-Chambertin ” Les Champeaux” 1er Cru. This parcel was farmed by Olivier Bernstein from 2007 and acquired in 2012. The vines are 55 years old. Lovely fruit. Supple with a nice underlying structure. Crisp finish. Very nice.
Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Cazetiers” 1er Cru. Cazetiers is situated high on the slope and here the vines are 80 years old. Gorgeous perfume. Lots of fruit with depth and structure. Balanced with a good underlying backbone. Long finish. Grand Cru quality here!
Charmes-Chambertin. The vines here average 40 years in several parcels situated in Charmes-Chambertin and Mazoyères-Chambertin. Great perfume with floral notes. Delicous fruit. Supple and utterly seductive with balance and depth. This is a really delicious and classic Charmes.
Clos de Vougeot. Here there are very old vines of 80 years of age and are situated high on the slope. Subdued perfume. Faintly floral. Has depth and richness, but a bit tight and closed. Nice persistence on the palate. This Clos Vougeot needs some time to show its stuff, but it will be great.
Clos de la Roche. The vines here are at least 50 years old. Very nice perfume. Lots of fruit. Rich and round with depth and intensity. Structured and brooding. Impressive.
Bonnes-Mares. Here the vines are up to 54 years in age. They are situated in the Terre Rouge section. The fermentation of this wine had a higher percentage of whole clusters in 2012 as compared with the other wines. Lovely perfume. Structured, but very exuberant and brimming with fruit. Has intensity and depth. Gorgeous.
Mazis-Chambertin. The vines here are owned by the Domaine. They are up to 80 years of age in parcels in Mazis-Haut and in Mazis-Bas. Lovely perfume. Rich and supple with lots of fruit. Balanced and very flavorful. Should age beautifully.
Chambertin Clos de Bèze. The average age of the vines here is 60 years. Great perfume. Lots of fuit. Very rich and concentrated, but still elegant. Beautifully balanced. Long on the palate. This is a great wine that will evolve effortlessly over decades.
Chambertin. This is the first year for Chambertin. The fruit comes from vines that are 60 years old. Stunning perfume. Heaps of fruit and rounded and supple. Impressive depth and richness. Balanced with a long finish. Seems just a bit more forward at this early stage than the Clos de Beze, but still a long distance runner that will be at its best in the years ahead.
The 2011s were decanted and aerated before serving. All showed a firmness and varying degrees of tightness. They are not nearly as open and expressive as the 2012s at this stage. But, they all exhibit a lot of fruit and have the stuffing to evolve beautifully over time. The Underground named the 2011 vintage as the surprise vintage at the very outset (to read that article click here). And, while we tasted the Domaine Olivier Bernstein wines in barrel, as I said earlier, they were very closed at that time and at a stage in their evolution where they were impossible to evaluate. I thought 2011was a surprise vintage because out of barrel the wines had so much supple fruit. Now in bottle, these Domaine Olivier Bernstein wines are a surprise in the sense of the clarity and structure of the wines. They show very different than any recent vintage, but with patience there seems little doubt that they will be special. All had very nice colors and good backbone with structure and a faint spiciness. Some were closed and restrained, some showed a bit of reduction, and some were more open. It will be extremely interesting to follow the evolution of these wines.
Chambolle-Musigny “Les Lavrottes” 1er Cru. Subtle perfume. Lovely supple fruit with a spice tinge. Balanced. Very nice.
Gevrey-Chambertin ” Les Champeaux” 1er Cru. Subtle perfume. Nice fruit.Good backbone. Has structure and depth.
Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Cazetiers” 1er Cru. Nice perfume. Has fruit, but rather closed. Depth and richness underneath. Well structured. Needs a lot of time to fully devlop.
Charmes-Chambertin. Deep perfume. Floral tinges. Lots of fruit. Quite expressive and open with a crispness on the finish. Really lovely and the most open of all the 2011s,
Clos de Vougeot. Nice perfume. Lots of fruit. Quite rich and round with a firm underlying backbone. Should develop beautifully over time.
Clos de la Roche. Deep perfume. Lots of fruit with richness and depth, but tight. Well structured. Firm backbone. A keeper.
Bonnes-Mares. Subtle perfume. Rather closed and tight. Very good fruit with concentration and depth. All there, but cries out for some more time in the bottle.
Mazis-Chambertin. Nice perfume. Lovely berry fruit. Flavorful and rounded with a firm underlying structure. Should age beautifully.
Chambertin Clos de Bèze. Nice perfume that needs air to develop. Rich and concentrated with great structure and depth. Lots of fruit underneath. Long finish. Very impressive, but needs a lot of time.
To find out about the availability the Olivier Bernstein wines from Wilson Daniels click here.