Chateaux Ollieux Romanis, ‘Lo Petit Fantet d’Hippolyte’ 2017
Chateaux Ollieux Romanis, ‘Lo Petit Fantet d’Hippolyte’ is made at Domaine Ollieux Romanis. A magnificent property with a huge winery nestled at the centre of its vines. Located in Boutenac, just south of the village of Corbières in the Languedoc region, Ollieux Romanis is now one of the largest privately owned wineries in Corbières, spanning some 130 hectares. First planted to vine in the 11th century AD, Ollieux Romanis actually came into existence as a farm producing grains, olives, and mutton in Roman times, some eight centuries earlier. It was the Durban-Latreille family who saw its potential and began planting it to the vine. Soon, a priory was formed and the domaine flourished, as tending to the vine was part of the monks’ daily religious ritual, for production of the holy sacrament. Through the Middle Ages, Les Ollieux became part of the Abbey of Fontfroide and then subsequently changed hands many times. Today it is owned and maintained by the Bories family, who settled at Les Ollieux some 200 years ago. Pierre Bories is assisted by winemaker Jean-Pierre Amiques. There are some very interesting and unusual terroirs featured at the domaine, including Mediterranean red clay, sandstone, and Puddingstone. Along with the requisite Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Marsanne, and Roussanne, the Bories also cultivate Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Merlot, and Mourvèdre, the ‘unapproved’ varietals going into their fun entry-level VdP label Capucines.
Les Ollieux is currently working its way to fully organic status having dispensed with herbicides and pesticides in the late 1990s. Instead, Pierre composts with Marc, or the leftover solids (skins, seeds, pulps, pits) of his grapes and olives after pressing. 80% of the harvest is done manually (rare for such a large estate) – all grapes for Atal Sia (their high-end cuvee) and Corbieres Classique red and white harvested manually. The winery and wine cellar were built in 1896; these buildings were built from stone quarried from within the property and they still stand proudly today. The first parcel of Carignan was planted in 1896, and it is still used for the production of grapes today. The Carignan grape variety has become the leitmotif of the Bories family- Pierre’s mother, Jacqueline, who was the winemaker in the 1970s resisted all the hype that grew up in the 1970s around the Syrah grape and highlighted the Carignan grape in her wines. it is still the case for Pierre and his team.
Pierre always tries to include some Occitan words on his labels. Hippolyte means Little child and is the name of Pierre’s young son, who wanted to have a wine he could call his own. The label of this wine is a painting done by Hippolyte, with some help from his mother.
Lo Petit Fantet d’Hippolyte has wonderful black cherry, thyme and wood-spice on the nose that gives way to soft fruit on the palate, with warming garrigues flavours. This is mostly Carignan, with a little Grenache and Syrah for good measure. Only natural yeasts are used and no sulphur is added. The label was designed by the Vigneron’s young son Hippolyte, who is often to be found amongst the vines. The cherry red of the Lo Petit has an intense nose with sweet raspberry and kirsch fruit. Despite its powerful alcohol (14%) and herbal undertow, it is perfectly in balance. We can recommend it chilled on a warm summer’s afternoon.