Currently making wine in Rioja and Bordeaux, Frenchman Olivier Rivière is a good example of the new wave of young, small producers who have emerged in Spain over the last decade.
He started to work with well-known producer Telmo Rodríguez but it didn’t take him long to start buying grapes for himself. Soon after, Rivière purchased vineyards in different regions which he vinifies separately following a Burgundian approach. His first production came from El Quemado in Covarrubias, a lovely but remote valley in Ribera del Arlanza appellation in Burgos (Castilla y León) which he helped to bring to light. He has since left this area to focus in the increasingly fashionable Najerilla valley in Rioja. Olivier consults for Bodegas Lacus in Aldeanueva de Ebro (Rioja Baja); it is at these facilities where he makes his wines.
For Olivier vineyards come first, focused as he is in obtaining high quality grapes. Small fermentation tanks (cement and oak vats) ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 litres enable him to ferment separately either top vineyards or village wines. He usually ferments his reds with stems and he always uses large barrels (300-500 litres) to age his wines.
Although working mostly in the Najerilla valley, Olivier sources his grapes from different areas in Rioja. He makes two whites that seek complexity and evolution in the bottle, both barrel-aged and with grapes that now come from Cárdenas (previously bought in Labastida): La Bastid (formerly called Jequitibá, about €21, 7,000 bottles) and the original, complex and truly impressive Mirando al Sur (€72, 3,000 bottles), which is aged in sherry butts.
As for his reds, Rayos Uva (around €11, 130,000 bottles) is a light-bodied blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano balancing the preserved fruit notes with some herbaceous nuances; Ganko (€35, 5,000 bottles) is a blend of Garnacha and Mazuelo, and comes from Cárdenas in Najerilla valley, on the right bank of the river Ebro. It is usually fermented with stems resulting in a fresh, balsamic and intense red. Starting in the 2013 vintage, he launched two single-vineyard wines: Las Viñas de Eusebio (€45, 5,500 bottles) comes from vineyards in the vicinity of Laguardia whereas Losares (€49, 1,300 bottles) is a deep and concentrated red sourced from an old plot in the village of Navaridas and planted in 1930. The single-vineyard range ends with Pozo Alto, first released in the 2015 vintage. This is an original, vibrant blend of Graciano and 20% Tempranillo and Garnacha sourced from a very specific area within a large vineyard in Leza (Rioja Alavesa). The 2020 vintage will be Rivière's last from Pozo Alto and Losares, after selling both vineyards.
Olivier Rivière has acquired 10 hectares of vineyards in Bourg, on the right bank of the Dordogne River near Bordeaux, where he is making wines primarily from Merlot, which are not yet on sale. His brother Mateo helps him to manage his projects in Rioja.