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Back in 2011, I traveled through France for the first time, visiting with winemakers and attending trade tastings around the country. It was an eye-opening trip, and one that led to the realization that I wanted to continue in my father’s path, championing the work of small growers throughout France and introducing them to our customers here at Chambers Street. Of the many winemakers I met on that first journey, my memory of Olivier Lemasson still stands out. He was warm and friendly, and he welcomed me into a world that was, at the time, a completely foreign one. Five years and multiple voyages later, I am now proud to call Olivier a friend. We’ve emptied many a glass, talked about everything under the sun, and over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with his amazing wife Cecile and their two daughters at their home in the Loire Valley.
Today we welcome you to discover Olivier through his wines, which reflect in many ways what he is like as a man: unequivocally honest, fun-loving and at the same time serious and contemplative. Olivier’s wines are consistently vibrant, un-polished, and pure, and the 2015s are some of his best yet!
A Brief History: Olivier’s first foray into the world of wine was as a sommelier and retailer in Brittany, where he developed an interest in “bizarre” wines while working with the influential natural wine retailer, Eric Macé. This led him to one of the great figures of the natural wine movement: Marcel Lapierre. He worked the harvest with Lapierre in Beaujolais for 4 years, and then decided to spend a full year working there, learning all aspects of natural winemaking. After a short stint as a retailer in Paris, Olivier finally headed to Touraine and teamed up with Hervé Villemade, who was searching for a partner for a new négociant project, which they named “Les Vins Contés.” The two started working together in 2002, sourcing from organically farmed vineyards around the Loire Valley, and producing wines from Côt, Gamay, Pineau d’Aunis, Grolleau, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Romorantin, Menu Pineau, and Chenin Blanc (to name a few). Olivier took over the Vins Contés project completely in 2006, and has expanded the operation, while maintaining close ties with farmers and vineyard owners in the region. The 2015 wines from Vins Contés are some of our favorites yet, and with the exception of the Poivre et Sel, all were made without any added sulfur.
From old vines of Gamay, this is a significant wine in 2015. The nose is vibrant and generous, and the palate is full, with black cherry, leather, earth, and hints of baking spice. It's concentrated and deep, but maintains great balance in the finish. Bravo! Eben Lillie
From old vines of Gamay, this is a significant wine in 2015. The nose is vibrant and generous, and the palate is full, with black cherry, leather, earth, and hints of baking spice. It's concentrated and deep, but maintains great balance in the finish. Bravo!
Somehow balancing freshness and bright red fruit with serious structure, this is a knockout from Lemasson. 100% Malbec or "Côt," as they call it in the Loire, this is spicy, earthy, and super finessed. There seems to be ample acidity and tannin here for aging. I know the jury's not out on aging no-SO2 wines, but I will note that I drank a bottle of the 2003 Cheville de Fer with Olivier at his home and it was absolutely breathtaking. A beautiful, mature wine, with fascinating aromas, a silky texture, and a never-ending finish. I remember opening my eyes wide after tasting the '03 and looking over to see Olivier simply nodding his head. He raised his finger and reminded me: "No sulfur!" Eben Lillie
Mostly Pineau D'Aunis (90%) with a touch of Gamay from sandy/flint soils. It's delightfully floral on the nose, with the fascinating herbal notes that one usually finds from Pineau D'Aunis cuvées. Mineral, and very fresh... with a lingering chalky finish. Eben Lillie
For fans of fun, fresh Loire Valley reds, search no further. This is all Gamay, in it's most fresh and vibrant form. 11% alcohol, and ready for a chill. No sulfur added. Eben Lillie
For fans of fun, fresh Loire Valley reds, search no further. This is all Gamay, in it's most fresh and vibrant form. 11% alcohol, and ready for a chill. No sulfur added. This is equivalent to 4 bottles, so make sure you have some friends to share with! Eben Lillie