Olivier Cohen is one of a new generation of winemakers working to farm according to regenerative agriculture, with the goal of improving soil health while making natural wine. His wines, made from Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Merlot, Chenin Blanc, are about as easy to drink as they come. Vin de soif!
"If you worry too much, you end up intervening too much."
People: Olivier Cohen
Place: Languedoc, France
Varieties: Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carignan Blanc and Aramon
Farming: Organic with elements of biodynamics and regenerative agriculture
Wines: Click here
Did You Know? Olivier also works with various grower friends to purchase fruit, both locally and in Limoux for his Chenin Blanc. This is something he feels passionately about—the grower/winemaker relationship, and he emphasises that too often the idea of négoce fruit is frowned upon unfairly.
Olivier has begun to sow a selection of cover crops, such as various beans and peas, to fix nitrogen into the soil. He also works with the idea of mulching in the vineyards, to avoid too much competitive growth from other plants. The crops die down and become organic matter, while serving as a protective cover, preventing precious water reserves from evaporating. During the regular droughts that the region experiences, this is crucial. It’s a constant learning curve:
“Having a cover crop is great because we keep water in the soil. But, weed competition is the biggest problem. It’s like the vines have had the fridge all to themselves before: it was an open bar. Now, suddenly, they have to share that with loads of other species, and they’re not used to that.”
He has also started working with a very gentle tool that simply opens the soil gently and puts it back where it was before. This means some of the weeds will die off, but the soil will remain relatively undisturbed. After many trials and many errors, he is beginning to feel more comfortable in his understanding of his vineyard soils and climate. He says,