Olivier Lemasson (Les Vins Contes) doesn't make fancy wines — these aren't polished, buttoned up wines you'll find anywhere near a white table cloth. What they are is rustic, soulful, and accessible wines of thirst, or vins de soif. In our experience they satisfy the natural wine itch for both the seasoned wine drinker and those new to low-intervention wine.
Typically by the time these wines land in NY we've sold through most on a pre-arrival basis. This year, life had different plans. But in this case it's good news: most of these wines are available for immediate purchase (the Chevile de Fer and the P'tit Rouquin arrive in about a month). Better news: we have solid quantity on these wines (particularly the Gama Sutra and the R19), as well as MAGNUMS, so you *might* see them around for a few weeks. Read on for more of the story, and for tasting notes on the new vintage.
A veteran of Parisian wine shops, Olivier Lemasson landed his first winemaking gig with Marcel Lapierre, a pioneering natural producer in Beaujolais. After five years with Lapierre, he relocated to the Loire, where he partnered with another beloved natural winemaker, Hervé Villemade. They founded a negociant project called Les Vins Contés. Villemade stepped away from the project once Olivier had firm control behind the wheel.
Les Vins Contés started as a grape buying endeavor, but in 2016 Olivier was able to purchase the vineyards he’d been sourcing from — 9 hectares that he'd been working organically and by hand (no machines, ever). Because of the care Olivier takes in the vineyard, the winemaking is simple: Whites are direct-pressed and don’t see any oak, and the reds are, for the most part, short macerations and meant to be drunk young (with the possible exceptions of the Gama Sutra and the Cheville de Fer). All the wines are bottled unfiltered, mostly un-sulfured, or hit with a miniscule amount at bottling.
The wines are a testament not only to Olivier's stellar mentors, but also to Olivier's commitment to farming, and to the purity and energy that you only find in authentic low-fi wines.
80 year-old parcel. Simply delicious, lovely, quaffable Gamay that hits you deep in your pleasure centers. Satisfies your lizard brain AND your soul. Fresh violets, grape soda, cumin, and soft texture. Undeniably rustic French table wine, and my favorite every year. It will get funkier after you open, so chill it a bit and drink it fast (don't worry — it won't be hard).