Olivier Merlin

Olivier Merlin (originally from the Charolais) is widely regarded as being one of the very finest wine makers in the Mâconnais. He and his wife Corinne (a Montbéliarde) began in 1987 by renting 4.5ha. from René Gaillard, of Domaine du Vieux St Sorlin, who wished to retire. Since then he has been buying the property in stages as well as adding new vineyards such as St Véran (in 1994 & 1996). In September 1997 Olivier took out a negociants' licence in order to be able to make some Pouilly Fuissé, since land in this appellation is neither available to buy nor to rent.

He makes three cuvées of Pouilly-Fuissé (one each from Fuissé, Vergisson and Chaintré) and a Viré-Clessé. From 2000 some Moulin-à-Vent joined the stable. The single-vineyard wines, including Mâcon La Roche-Vineuse Les Cras and St Véran Le Grand Bussière, get 18 months barrel-ageing with 30-50 per cent new wood. The latest big project has been the purchase of a steep slope above the village, En Montessu, and its clearance and replanting after being left fallow for five years with cover crops to help the land recuperate. Olivier has old photographs showing this whole slope covered in vineyard in earlier times.

He has established a reputation as one of the region’s most dynamic growers, a reference point for the Maconnais.The whites demonstrate Olivier's exceptional winemaking talents from lowly appellations. They are frequently taken for Côte d'Or wines if tasted blind. His Bourgogne Rouge is at its best after 2 to 3 years when the fruit expresses itself fully.

Jasper Morris MW, author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.

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