Olivier Bernstein

Burgundy, France

Vineyard

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The Very Best Grapes Possible

“Viticulture is the very basis of everything. We cultivate selected plots of old vines (40 years of age or more) and truly very old vines (60 to 80 years old) that are naturally balanced and give small yields. To get grapes of excellent quality and perfect health, the work in the vineyard is absolutely fundamental — and unstinting. Aerating the rootstock, trimming the leaf canopy, green harvesting, fall harvest at perfect maturity using small trays called les caissettes, selection of only perfectly healthy grapes — these are some of the techniques which aim at a single objective — to obtain the very best grapes possible. Through this work, we hope to eliminate all the grapes at risk of not attaining sufficient phenolic maturity, and at the same time, those whose condition of health would not be optimum. The elimination of these grapes in the months preceding harvest is a precondition for obtaining wines that are pure and balanced. For us, the work is done in the vineyards. It is impossible to make a great wine without a great grape,” affirms Olivier Bernstein.

Olivier’s seven grands crus and three premiers crus have a wealth of old vines, which are fundamental to the quality of his wines. All the vineyard plots, save one, are at least 40 years old; most are between 60 and 80 years old. While officially acting with négociant status, Olivier and his team take responsibility for the vineyard work on their plots, avoiding chemical treatments, adhering to lutte raisonnée or reasoned intervention only when necessary. Grass grows between the vines to reduce rainwater saturation and encourage soil microbial health. The team passes through the vineyards at the time of the veraison to thin out any bunches which do not meet Olivier’s rigorous quality requirements. This enables him to pick healthy grapes at optimum ripeness and good phenolic maturity.

Winemaking

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The Magic of Winemaking and Barrel Aging

Following harvest, the grapes are sorted a second time in the winery in Gevrey-Chambertin in order to eliminate any undesirable ones that made it through the first sorting. Vinification is gentle so that the delicacy of the Pinot Noir is respected.

The making of each wine is adapted to the vintage, the crus and the quality of the grapes. The winery’s restored cellars, located in Beaune at 4 rue Jean Belinar, were originally built in the 15th century as a grange belonging to the Hospice de Beaune. Here is where the wines are aged in new oak barrels from the Bercay forest (Jupilles), made by master cooper Stéphane Chassin, who comes to taste the new vintage before deciding what type of toast will suit each individual wine. (The premier and grand cru wines are matured in new wood from the start.) When the wines are ready, they are bottled by hand, without filtration or fining, bottle by bottle, cru by cru.

“I try to make pure, balanced wines that combine both mouth-filling depth and magnificent delicacy,” explains Olivier Bernstein.