Grapes: Grenache Blanc & Grenache Gris
Region : Roussillon, France
Notes from the Importer: We're stoked to re-introduce the wines of Olivier Varichon and Emmanuelle Vinci to the United States. A native of the French Alps, Olivier first discovered his passion for wine in the 1990s as a sommelier in Haute-Savoie, then in London throughout the early 2000s, where he met Emmanuelle Vinci, a Franco-Italiienne émigrée with family roots in the Côtes Catalanes. The couple returned to their native France in the late 2000s and quietly established a small domaine in the foothills outside Perpignan, taking over old vines parcels of Lledoner Pelut (aka Garnatxa Peluda), Carignan, white Grenache, and Macabeo, all planted to calcareous soils in the thick maquis of the Mediterranean.
Having immersed themselves in the world of so-called "classic" wines and largely isolated from the burgeoning natural wine movement, Olivier and Emmanuelle's decision to farm without chemicals was simply intuitive. In 2012, the couple abruptly quit using sulfites with the rather quaint justification of them "not tasting good in wine." For the first couple years everything went smoothly. Their rich Southern reds and textured whites thrived in the twilight of the Parker years. Then came the usual ups-and-downs of natural winemaking, which unsettled the rather bourgeois clientele they had cultivated throughout their years in the anglosphere. The series of drought harvests starting in 2018 only made things more complex, but Olivier and Emmanuelle never looked back. Their winemaking has remained surprisingly simple: grapes are picked on the ripe side with reds macerated and whites pressed in a vintage Vaslin. All vinification takes place in inox and bottling is without filtration or additives.
A couple years back, by total chance, Olivier ran into an old friend from sommelier school, who had also gone on to become a natural winemaker. He and his friend, Philippe Jambon, laughed at their common fortune. Having once served Coche Dury to oligarchs, they now measure volatile acidity in their garages. Phil put us in touch and the rest is history.