Monthly Pick: Olivier Horiot
There is an area of Champagne that many people don’t know about: the Côte de l’Aube. The Aube is so far removed from the normal tourist flocked areas such Reims and Epernay. The Aube is actually closer to Chablis than it is to the main region of Champagne. And in this magical place, in a quaint little village called Les Riceys, there lives a man and his wife called Olivier and Marie Horiot. Les Riceys is in fact the only village in the Champagne region permitted to produce both non-sparkling (red and white as well as rosé) and sparkling wines. Rosé de Riceys is one of the only two AOCs for still wine production in Champagne (the other being Coteaux Champenois).
Olivier and Marie manage 9 hectares of vines in Les Riceys but only 2 hectares go into their own wines, with the rest sold to cooperatives. Oliver’s family has been growing vines in the village since 1600s. Oliver is now the third generation in his family to have produced wines from these vines. He took over in 1999 and immediately converted the vineyards to organic and now completely biodynamic. The majority of their vineyard is planted with Pinot Noir (the classic variety for Aube), but he also grows Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier, Petit Messlier and Arbane.
Oliver and his wife are the ultimate power couple of Champagne. Both of them are in the vineyards and in the cellar. Their approach is always terroir first and letting the grapes speak for themselves. There is very limited intervention and they still use foot trotting to extract juice for some of their cuvees. All fermentation is done with indigenous yeast will dosage never exceeding over 3g/L. They not only make Champagne, but also produce amazing Rosê de Riceys and red and white Coteaux Champenois. Their smiles and warmth are infectious when you are around them and that translates into their wines. When I drink their wines or be around them, it is truly a pleasure.
That's part of the reason I'm so excited to be hosting my third live Zoom tasting with Olivier himself on Friday 6th November at 5pm. All you need to do to receive an invite is purchase a bottle of Olivier Horiot Champagne before then! I've even created a bundle of four of my favourites. We'll be tasting them all on the evening, but you need only buy one if you so wish! See you there.