Solving the Mysteries of the Terroir

… That is exactly what fellow Sabletain and “Terroirist” Olivier Hickman does.

Read carefully …. because Olivier has spent many years making himself familiar with the terrain, learning the patterns of work, analyzing the components of each fermenting vat, and critically evaluating the results of many, many ….. acres of vineyards … and Wine Harvests!

Olivier guides a tasting at Domaine la Fourmone

Although not all wine experts agree about the exact definition of the somewhat mysterious concept of the “Terroir,” it is of supreme importance in the French wine industry, (and is becoming increasingly important in many other wine growing areas). The basic element of the concept: a belief that the land on which the grapes are grown, imparts a unique quality which is specific to that particular area – be it a region, a vineyard or even a specific area within the same vineyard. It also includes the micro-climate and the surrounding vegetation and airborne natural yeasts. Coupled with the Appellation Controlee system, there’s a lot to learn about.

Sablet is surrounded by vineyards

The Vendange in the vineyards around Gigondas – thanks to Dave Condeff for the picture

Olivier points out that, “The winemaker is king in the New World wine industry (Australia, Americas, etc). Styles of New World wines are driven, predominantly by wine making skills in the cellar.

In France, the emphasis is to “grow” a wine where the wine style is a product of the growers’ unique terroir and their grape-cultivation skills. The winemaker behaves more like a midwife: they are not the mother of the wine, there merely bring forth what was born in the vineyard.”

Out in the vineyards, a group of guests experiences the terroir

From enthusiastic amateur to the connoisseur, well versed in Southern Cote du Rhone wines, Olivier – the Proprietor of Wine Uncovered in Sablet, offers customized wine tours. His aim is to help his tour guests come away, having enjoyed the tour, and learned in as much depth as they would like to, of all that goes into the making of these fine wines, and the “Appellation Controlee” system. “Enjoyable, stress-free and informative tours” is the motto at Wine Uncovered.

Olivier’s tours visit selected Wineries. Guests can choose between a half day tour of two wineries, a three quarter day tour of three wineries or a whole day covering four wineries, touring the cellars and taking outings into the vineyards, with a discussion of the philosophy of those wineries, the growing areas and methods, the types of grapes and their wine making techniques. Tastings are guided by your host and allow the opportunity to ask lots of questions and gain a much broader understanding of one of France’s most versatile wine regions.

Olivier, a graduate of Cambridge University, began his career as a Financial Controller. After this he opened a Wine Importing business in London, and then he began wine making in the Languedoc. He and his wife and two children moved to Sablet in 2005, and began Wine Uncovered Tours, which has received many wonderful reviews and will soon be featured on the PBS Series “The Winemakers”. Having grown up visiting his French grandmother in nearby Orange, he naturally felt quite at home amongst the vineyards of the southern Cote du Rhone.

If a Provencal vacation in your future and you would like to know more about the tours that solve the mysteries of the terroir, you can check out all the details at:

Maybe we’ll see you there!

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