2021 Domaine Olivier Hillaire 'VIEILLES VIGNES' Côtes-du-Rhône AOP, France (750ml)

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In addition to owning a local brasserie and a boulangerie in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Olivier Hillaire is a rugby legend in his local hometown of Bédarrides. As if that weren’t impressive enough, he is now celebrated as a formidable talent in the world of wine. Olivier’s winemaking career began almost 30 years ago at Domaine des Relagnes, owned by his then father-in-law, Henri Boirin. In 2005, after working for over 20 years as winemaker at the estate, Olivier created his own, eponymous label, spurred by Henri’s decision to retire and sell the domaine. Ever the charmer, Olivier was able to convince Henri to keep a several prime hectares of vines, so that Olivier could rent the parcels to get his label started; and naturally, Olivier chose the very best plots!

Olivier Hillaire’s 2012 Côtes-du-Rhône ‘Vielles Vignes’ is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, from vineyards located in Bédarrides (Vaucluse) and Pouzilhac (Gard). All of Olivier’s vineyards are farmed using 100% organic farming techniques. He likes to allow nature to work its magic, while keeping a watchful eye. He works the soil of his mostly sandy parcels to discourage any growth in between the rows that might steal nutrients away from the vines. He implements green harvest to reduce yields, minimal use of chemicals and manual harvests. Olivier takes a more modern approach when vinifying and aging his wines. The grapes are usually destemmed (if the vintage allows it) and everything co-ferments in small, metal tanks for about a month; aging took place in the same stainless-steel tank for six months before bottling.

Dark garnet. Nice balance of fruit and savory aromas. Layers of red and dark berries mixed with earthy notes, lavender and sweet herbs. The palate is fresh and bursting with red fruit, Bing cherry, raspberry and plum skin, with notes of bacon and fennel. Expansive mouthfeel with pleasant, grippy tannins, and hints of black tea and tobacco on the soft, tapering finish.

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