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Posts Tagged ‘Marc Ollivier’

In the early 1980s, Marc Olivier (an engineer at the time) decided to move to the country for a slower pace of life. His father owned some vineyards in the cool Atlantic-influenced zone of Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine but was not a winemaker. He took over his father’s vineyards and bought a parcel called Clos de Briords from a neighbor. Marc’s first vintage was 1985 and his primary goal as a winemaker at the time was to simply complete fermentation. As such, he began fermentation using cultured yeasts and finished the wine off with a dose of SO2.

As he matured as a winemaker, he experimented with ambient yeasts and began bottling with minimal amounts of SO2. The results were extraordinary; the wines showed greater depth, richness and complexity. Encouraged by his success, Marc began transitioning all his vineyards to organic and continued his minimalist approach in the winery. His wines have since become the benchmark for the region and have exposed a world of previously unknown potential in the area.

Marc Ollivier’s wines are the antithesis of a modern commercial “product.” He hand harvests (a rarity in the region). Ripening is slower, and the longer hang-time before harvest allows for optimal maturity. He only uses natural indigenous yeasts to start fermentation. The vinification techniques are traditional for the area: no skin maceration but direct pressing within 2 hours of picking, racking of the must after 12 hours to remove the solid matter, and controlled temperatures, not to exceed 71.6 degrees F, for the fermentation. He never uses sterile filtration, only permitting one light filtration prior to bottling.

He is the only grower in the whole region to not have a single clonal selection in his vineyards. Over the last century grape growers have lost a huge proportion of the plant diversity in their fields. It’s a rare treat to be able to buy wine from a grower that still has all original genetic stock in his vines. The virtues of Ollivier are reflected in his wines, they are some of the finest expressions of Muscadet, not to mention that they are also a tremendous value given their caliber.

The grapes for the Pepiere “3” come from the same parcel as the famous “Granite de Clisson” bottling and have spent three years on the lees and an additional 1.5 years in the bottle, making it rounder on the palate. This is a new release from Marc Ollivier, the wine was a vat of 100 hectolitres, 80% from designated “Granite de Clisson” vines and 20% from old vines in the Pepiere vineyard (also on Clisson granite).

Rich, supple and broad on the palate. Pronounced acidity —  balanced with some fat and richness. Citrus, with saline, a little tropical fruit and loaded with minerality. 12% alcohol.  Imported by Louis Dressner. Highly recommended.

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Domaine Pierre de la Grange is considered one of the best of the Nantais, a region that marks the most northwestern point of all France’s vineyards. Pierre and his wife Monique are the seventh generation of to run Domaine Pierre de la Grange, though their wines are more likely to be found listed under Luneau-Papin or even Pierre Luneau, than under the estate’s true name.

They have approximately 40 hectares of vines, with 38 hectares planted to Melon de Bourgogne and the remaining 2 hectares committed to red varieties. The vineyards are situated in Le Landreau, Vallet and La Chapelle Heulin, about 20 kilometres from Nantes itself. The vines average forty-five years although some are well into their seventh decade.

There is a broad and varied range of cuvées produced at Luneau-Papin, which in many cases reflect vineyard or terroir of origin. The leading cuvées are the L d’Or and the Semper Excelsior Clos des Noëlles. I wrote about the Excelsior a couple of weeks back. Not a very expressive nose, but thought what it brought in flavor more than made up for whatever it lacked in aromatics.

The L d’Or is more aromatic with citrus and mineral notes. It is also a little more ripe on the palate. Citrus, orchard fruit with mineral flavors and a some herbs. Good weight and acidity.  This was very good as well, but for me the Excelsior had an ethereal quality that really captured my attention. Still, the L d’Or certainly delivers and I would certainly recommend it — and would not be surprised if many preferred it over the Excelsior. These wines are still young and have a lot of life, so it will be very interesting to see how they show in another 3-4 years. Given the quality of the wine, this is also a very good value at $18 a bottle. 12% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner.

Related post:
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Granite de Clisson 2007
Domaine de la Pépière “Vieilles Vignes” Clos des Briords Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2007

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It’s still early February, but I am confident that my resolution to drink more Muscadet was one of my best New Year’s resolutions to date — and also one of the easiest to fulfill. As I wrote in a previous post, no survey of Muscadet would be complete without experiencing the wines from Domaine de la Pépière, home to Marc Ollivier.

In 2005, Ollivier produced his first “Granite de Clisson” — a periodic bottling of 60-90 year old vines.  It is aged on the lees for 24 months and so it cannot be labeled “Sur Lie” as it violates the current regulations which permit only nine months of aging. Ollivier takes his time in the vineyard and the cellar. Ripening is slower, and the longer hang-time before harvest allows for optimal maturity. He hand harvests (a rarity in the region), uses natural yeasts, waits for the wine to finish and bottles with a very light filtration.

The 07 Granite de Clisson is young (it is expected to benefit from 10-15 years of aging), but already showing very well. Golden yellow color with aromas of citrus and wet stones with some floral, saline and leesy notes. On the palate, great richness, depth and intensity — pure and ripe citrus and pear with honey, tarragon and a little spice. Round with bright acidity and minerality.

I thought this was more muscular than the Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005, which isn’t to say I wasn’t extremely fond of this as well, it’s just stylistically different. I’m not sure I could say which one I liked better and don’t think I prefer one to the other. Both wines are magnificent. Choosing between the two would just depend on my mood. As good as this is showing right now, it will be extremely interesting to watch this develop over the coming years. I hope I can find the patience and restraint to keep my hands off of it.  This is worth seeking out and a great value at about $20 a bottle. 12% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.

Related posts:
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Domaine de la Pépière “Vieilles Vignes” Clos des Briords Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2007

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I made a few wine resolutions for 2010. One of them was to drink more Muscadet.

Muscadet has always been the perfect pairing with oysters, so I usually will order it in a restaurant since I don’t shuck many oysters at home. However, Muscadet is not only for pairing for oysters. It is a very versatile food wine. The low alcohol doesn’t overwhelm and the wine’s acidity makes it a great pairing for many rich dishes — and certainly a great pairing for most seafood. Muscadet often is a very good value play as well.

Beyond the virtues of the grape, there are some very talented winemakers from the appellation as well. No survey of Muscadet would be complete without experiencing the wines from Domaine de la Pépière, home to Marc Ollivier. This particular bottle is a very-old-vine cuvée of Muscadet from a single-plot vineyard in schist, the Clos des Briords. These are among the oldest vines in his estate (planted in 1930) and all the vineyards are from original stock. Ollivier is the only grower in the Muscadet who does not have a single clonal selection in his vineyards.

Ollivier takes his time in the vineyard and the cellar. Ripening is slower, and the longer hang-time before harvest allows for optimal maturity.  He hand harvests (also a rarity in the region), uses natural yeasts, waits for the wine to finish and bottles with a very light filtration. Because of the soil and greater concentration achieved with old vines, the Clos des Briords is a more powerful wine that most Muscadets. It is very mineral and quite austere in its youth, rather than fruity and light. Over a few months, or even years, if one can wait for it, it develops much complexity in aromatics and structure.

Aromatics of apple, citrus and saline. Great precision on the palate with sharp acidity. Loaded with citrus and crushed rock with some orchard fruit. Briney, stoney and chalky. A tremendous value at $16-$17 a bottle. 12% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.

Also interesting to note, that Joe Dressner tweeted on January 30 —  Finished Tasting in Muscadet. Marc Olliver thinks 2009 is best he has made — I will certainly be on the look out for the 2009s.

Related post:
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Granite de Clisson 2007

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