Olivier Bernstein – on being a winemaker



This “terrifically exciting” Burgundian producer is, according to Jasper Morris MW, making wines of pure class. With three Premiers Crus and seven Grands Crus to his (increasingly illustrious) name, Bernstein is a producer investors and Burgundy lovers should watch. Here, he talks a little about the philosophy that inspires his wine

The process of making a wine, from the vineyard to the bottle, takes 30 months. In that time, we make 1,000 decisions which influence the wine, and in those decisions there should be no compromise – that is my philosophy.

For me, winemaking is about personal interpretation – like music – and is linked to passion and pleasure. In music as in wine, let us make the best that we can.

I am always compelled to find ways to improve: on one hand there is artistic creativity and on the other rigour and professionalism – it may seem like a strange combination but for me it is essential. You need to control to create.

For the very finest Burgundies, the real magic comes after the first five years. The red fruit will disappear, and the new flavours that appear have a lot of emotion – small details which can really touch you. These flavours are only possible if the winemaking work has been perfectly executed. Then, in 10 years, you will experience something quite amazing in the glass.

Producing a wine is like raising a child. When you look at your teenager, you hope that the education and upbringing you have given them is going to make them strong and characterful as an adult. In the same way with wine, when you bottle it, you hope the qualities of tis youth will be amplified in maturity.

I am different from most Burgundy growers. I didn’t inherit my vineyards, instead I make this wine without obligation. I chose to do it. I have a very precise idea about what I want to achieve: maximum purity, a balance between mouth-filling structure and magnificent delicacy, That is the goal that I have.

Read more about Bernstein’s 2012 vintage.