Your family ownership goes back how many generations?
Since 1903 for Château Le Crock, 1920 for Château Léoville Poyferré & Moulin Riche. Olivier Cuvelier is the 4th generation of the helm of the Médoc properties.
You grew up part of the family business. Does the responsibility of being in charge of a family heirloom weigh heavily on your shoulders?
Indeed, I arrived early in the family business, in 1985. I became administrator of the Cru Bourgeois administration in 1998 and became president from 2016 to 2021. It is important to point out that the new classification was created in 2020. I have the pleasure to work on the business side of the company managing the Maison de Négoce but as part of the board of directors, it is with great enthusiasm and responsibility that I take part to wine making decisions too.
Your vineyards produce on average 80 hectares. It must be a monumental feat of organization. How long does it take and how many people are involved?
It is indeed and even though we have had quite a few years to hone this particular part of our craft, every year feels like a new challenge. Particularly the last few years with the added strain due to covid restrictions, which has completely changed our approach.
Your wines have been receiving excellent reviews including the latest 90 plus scores from Decanter and the critics. While obviously welcome as a measure of quality, do high critical scores create their own kind of pressure?
We are always delighted to discover that are wines have been applauded by the press and critics. High praise from theses discerning palates is particularly encouraging for the technical team (Vineyard Manager Bruno Clenet, Winemaker Isabelle Davin and Cellar Master Didier Thomann).
Of all your wines and the various vintages, what is your favourite and why?
I don’t have that many to “my” name yet, but if I had to choose one since I joined the estate – it would have to be my first, 2018.
What are the blends in your wines? And are they consistent from year to year?
Being on the left bank of Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon is the undisputed king of the vineyard and always plays a dominant part of our blends. However, it also has important blending partners to give the wine form and equilibrium; Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Merlot often plays a starring role in our blend (up to 30%), bringing Léoville Poyferré’s signature plush characteristic.
How has the harvest and the production of wine changed over the years? How was Harvest 2022?
It’s still a little too early to say, but one thing is certain – rarely have we seen such big smiles from Didier Thomann and Isabelle Davin (Cellar Master and Winemaker respectively) and they are very humble people!
Are there any special traditions/events in the estate to mark the harvest?
Yes, it is called la Gerbaude. It is a tradition where all the harvest team get to gather at the end of the season around a friendly and festive meal to celebrate weeks of hard work.
What is your relationship to Ireland (wine related or not)? While David has confirmed that Oscar is an asset to his dynamic team, how do you feel his time spent in Ireland will benefit him?
Oscar's time in Ireland is extremely beneficial. He better understands the Bordeaux wine market and the reality of a distributor where the range of wines from all over the world is ever wider.
Could you sum up the distinct characteristics of your wines, what makes them special? What food are they good to pair with?
Young vines that are planted throughout the vineyard on the Mindel gravel terraces with their sandy-clay subsoil give rise to a second wine that is utterly charming, full of crunchy red fruits, an ethereal pleasure that is a prologue to its elder. Best paired with poultry and game, or a rather extravagant ploughman’s lunch!
The richness of the Mindel gravel soil forges the complexity of the Grand Vin, which never ceases to captivate the palate with its perfect balance, its profound generosity and elegant finesse. Best paired with game, matured beef, rich red wine jus and sauces, mushrooms
Hailing from of single block of 20 hectares to the northwest of the appellation, the vines flourish on Garonnaise gravels, sand and clay that give a birth to a wine with elegant generosity. ‘Gourmandise’ in its purest form. Best paired with roasted poultry, especially duck, fruit driven sauces.