Deep in the vineyards.
Three men tell their stories
By Valérie Rouger
Up before sunrise, they were picking grapes before they met us. Their energy is undiminished, and their enthusiasm is evident. They are happy to share their common passion for good wine.
Olivier Rolland, Lawrence Slaughter et Pierre Einaudi, la rencontre. © Frédéric Stephan
© Frédéric Stephan Ils tiennent entre leurs mains une cuvée qui leur est chère, leur signature, le vin qui leur ressemble. Lawrence tient entre ses mains le blanc « Château de Mille ». Majorité de vieilles vignes (plantées en 1952) Ugni Blanc, Clairette et Rolle. Complexe, élégant et rond. Pierre présente le rosé de Bargemone, dans son flacon atypique et iconique, qui marie Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon et Viognier. Tenue, longueur en bouche, fraîcheur. « La Chapelle » en blanc pour Olivier. Assemblage de Grenache, Roussanne et Rolle. Sa première création. Un vin fruité, gourmand et structuré.
Three men, three vineyards, three terroirs. Olivier Rolland from Mas Sainte-Berthe (PDO Les Baux-de-Provence) and Lawrence Slaughter (PDO Luberon) join Pierre Einaudi in the new winery, a symbol of Domaine Bargemone’s renaissance (PDO Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence). Introductions made, they head for the ageing room and hold forth between the stainless-steel vats. The bond between these vine-lovers is plain to see. A passion that led them to change their lives and choose to embark on a new path.
Their childhood dreams of driving a tractor! The three of them laugh about it. Pierre admits to a slight door problem on his first drive… Olivier moved away from the highly urban world of Parisian finance, Lawrence crossed the Atlantic and left banking behind him, and Pierre gave up the stage and theatre companies.
Olivier had wanted to work in the vineyard planted by his grandfather since he was 15. “When I was 28, my grandmother wanted me to take over the estate. I wasn’t ready. I wanted to gain experience, grow and mature. Twenty years later, I left a job I loved for the vineyard, the land and the many projects that go with it.” He was the one who decided to switch to organic farming, enabling the Baux-de-Provence appellation to become the first 100% organic PDO in France.
Lawrence and his wife Constance had been keen to buy a vineyard for over 15 years. One of the great satisfactions for him is being in complete control of his actions. “I’m the boss! he adds laughing. “We have had to rebuild everything at Château de Mille – the oldest wine estate in the region – but we are the ones who decide, and that changes everything. Our choices, our vision, our risks, our results.”
Pierre is the youngster. Aged 29, he left the theatre for the vineyards, joining Bargemone, an estate acquired by his family in 2019 with a host of ambitions. “I find that the arts and wine have a lot in common. The pleasure we give, the pleasure we take. It’s all part of the blending, the label, and the reception at the winery…”
Working with Nature is what unites them. All three feel they are simply there to honour it, keep it intact, and work in organic farming. They had to learn and learn with humility. But what a pleasure it is to put their signature on new vintages and to receive compliments at every tasting. Olivier says he has become the conductor of an orchestra. Lawrence admits to being inspired and energised. Enterprising, curious, and bringing people together are Pierre’s words. And to which they add “Happy!