If I think back to some of my earliest experiences with the classed growths of Pessac-Léognan, and indeed of all the upper-class wines of Bordeaux, I think those of Château Olivier provided some of my earliest experiences. For somebody weaned on the inexpensive varietal wines of the New World, Australia in particular, it wasn’t a bad place to start. Although there was a world of difference between the sweet oak-tinged sunshine of a Chardonnay from South Eastern Australia, and the dry, rather pale and lean character of the white wine from Château Olivier, both seemed to speak to me of the variety in question. In the case of the former wine, the tropical fruit of ripe Chardonnay, and in the case of the latter, the rather greener flavours of cool climate Sauvignon Blanc. This was despite the fact that the white wine is usually only about half Sauvignon Blanc, mirroring the proportion of this variety in the white vineyard, the remainder being Semillon and Muscadelle. With the benefit of hindsight, my interpretation of the wine probably said more about the fruit ripeness than the varieties in question, but I was very green. As indeed was the wine.
Despite these early experiences many years (I hesitate to write decades later, but it wouldn’t be that far from the truth) later Château Olivier was, for many years, one of a small handful of classed growth châteaux in Pessac-Léognan that I had never even set eyes on, other than from afar. It can be spied from the grounds of near neighbour Château Brown, although only just; it sits a long way in the distance, and is partially obscured by greenery and the lie of the land.Please log in to continue reading: