Chêne Bleu

Rhône, France

Biographies

  • Xavier Rolet - Proprietor

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    Xavier Rolet pursued a career in international finance, but his passion for wine, vines and agriculture led him to this remote and pristine location. The courage and vision to undertake such an ambitious and challenging life endeavor began with Xavier. His involvement was very hands-on until recently, but he has taken a back-seat role due to his work on the London Stock Exchange, where is currently CEO. His deep love of the land is shared by his siblings and generations of his family who have been successful wine producers. His cousins produce wine from the Jura, such as the Rolet Arbois, the Crémant Rolet and the Michel Laroppe wines from Côtes de Toul. Xavier is also the beekeeper at the estate and is passionate about sustainable practices.

    Xavier Rolet - Proprietor
  • Nicole Rolet - Principal and Acting CEO

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    After an intense career in International Politics, Finance and Think Tanks, Nicole embarked on the adventure of a lifetime: together with husband Xavier and family, she undertook the restoration of an abandoned Medieval priory in Provence and its derelict but magnificent wild vineyard — a real diamond in the rough, thanks to its outstanding location and pristine environment, but in need of tons of TLC. After managing the renovation of the priory over a decade to turn it into an eco-luxury retreat and home for think-tanks and off-sites, she got badly bitten by the family wine bug, went back for wine studies at the WSET in the UK, then UC Davis in the US. There she developed a deep-seated conviction of the site’s phenomenal potential to produce Grand Cru-quality wine, and a single-minded dedication to uncovering it, discovering her inner entrepreneur, dedicated to constructive disruption and innovation in a traditional field. With the help of her family she spent over a decade nursing the vineyard back to health.  They built the winery from scratch, crafting the first cuvées in 2006 and aiming to transform this medieval Sleeping Beauty into a cutting-edge critically-acclaimed world class winery, launching the eco-couture wine label Chêne Bleu in 2010.

    Now distributed in 17 countries, the wines have garnered a number of the most coveted prizes, praise from top critics, numerous gold medals and the trophy for best label design in the world. Frequently referred to by the press as a “rising star” credited as the first Super Rhône, in reference to the qualitative yet unconventional approach.

    Nicole became deeply committed to pushing the boundaries of sustainability in the broadest sense of the term, from vineyard practices to human resource management, and to finding ways of reconciling business success, social responsibility, and ethical and sustainable practices. She was knighted Chevalier de Tastevin in Burgundy in 2014 and the equivalent in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in 2015 and the International Brotherhood of the Vine in 2016.

    Believing in collaboration rather than competition, she is convinced winemakers and leading lights in the wine trade should collaborate more to educate the public about responsible wine knowledge and best practices.  In 2017, she founded Fine Minds 4 Fine Wines, a global think tank dedicated to exploring and shaping the Future of Fine Wine. Passionate about the Grenache grape, considered by many as the unsung hero of the wine world, in 2010 she co-created and hosted the first International Grenache Symposium, a summit that brought 270 wine luminaries from 23 countries together at the winery. She also co-founded the not-for-profit International Grenache Association, launched International Grenache Day, now celebrated in 32 countries, conducting Masterclasses around the world, and adding Grenachista to the Urban dictionary. In 2008, along with Clive Barlow MW, then Chairman of Education at the Institute of Masters of Wine, Nicole also set up the “Extreme Wine Experience”, recognised by critics and the press as the world’s most intensive and effective wine course for enthusiasts.

    Nicole Rolet - Proprietor
  • Mael Hardy - Director of Viticulture

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    Mael hails from the Loire Valley. From a young age, he found solace in nature, orienting his studies toward landscape architecture. A counselor insisted he do an internship with a vintner and he never looked back. After earning his a degree in viticulture and oenology, he began teaching before running an organic vineyard at a very prestigious domaine in Châteauneuf du Pape.

    “What a joy and a privilege to wake up every morning and go to work in this protected natural amphitheater. It was always my dream to run a vineyard where the symbiotic relationship with the surrounding nature was so alive and kicking.” Now Mael gets to enjoy the opportunity to work in the heart of a UNESCO biosphere; to integrate agroforestry into the regenerative agriculture being practiced at Chêne Bleu; and to experiment with cutting edge techniques and new tech in support of sustainable agriculture.

    Mael Hardy - Director of Viticulture
  • Josselin Guiziou - Director of Winemaking

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    Born into a winemaking family in the Loire Valley, Josselin studied agriculture and oenology.  His career began at one of the most prestigious wineries in the world, Château Lafite Rothschild, before propelling him to Turkey and then to the US.

    His personal vision for winemaking was molded by the different forms of viticulture and oenology in the Bordeaux and Rhône regions, from cooperatives and boutique wineries to the most revered estates. “I joined Chêne Bleu as the Director of Winemaking because I believe their hard-driving qualitative vision will allow the integration of new, innovative, and visionary ways of working. From the very beginning they’ve incorporated deep respect for soils, plants, people, and the expression of terroir.”

    Today Josselin’s goal is to provide continuity to the existing winemaking philosophy at Chêne Bleu, while integrating his own vision for precision-winemaking.

     

    Josselin Guiziou - Director of Winemaking
  • Laura Iverson

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    An integral part of the Chêne Bleu team since the very first vintage, as head of sales, Laura Iverson currently advises on sales strategy and actively represents Chêne Bleu in the United States.   Formerly overseeing new brand development and sales strategy for Beringer Blass and later Foster’s Wine Estates in Europe, she has more than 15 years’ experience in the wine business, based in England, the USA and Chile, complementing a previous career in international finance. Laura has a Diploma with Distinction from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust and an MBA from INSEAD in France.

    Laura Iverson
  • Philippe Cambie

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    Philippe Cambie, who has a degree in oenology from the university in Montpellier, is the southern Rhône’s leading expert on terroir and winemaking, a consultant for more than 60 vignerons and properties, including Tardieu-Laurent. His ability is legendary, and he has been involved with Chêne Bleu from the very beginning, even consulting on the configuration of the winery for maximum interactivity with the vineyard and the perfectionist philosophy of the Rolets. Philippe’s renowned palate has been of great value in assessing the upside potential of the vineyard and confirming the premise for making outstanding wines off the beaten path.

    Philippe Cambie
  • Zelma Long

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    Courageous and visionary, Zelma Long is one of the female pioneers in the development of viticulture in the United States and has been a mentor to numerous aspiring female vintners. A graduate of UC Davis in oenology, she is perhaps the foremost female oenologist in the world. She started her career at Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley, where she worked as chief oenologist during the 1970s. Long moved on to become vice president, then CEO, of Simi Winery, Alexander Valley, CA, in 1979. Currently she makes her own wine, Vilafonte, in South Africa and advises only a select handful of domaines that she believes in, with a focus on Europe, Israel and Washington State.

    Zelma’s life has been dedicated to oenological research. She founded and was the first president of the American Vineyard Foundation (AVF) to help finance research in oenology and viticulture, and also founded the American Viticulture and Oenology Research Network (AVERN). She has said of winemaking, “Age is a precondition to greatness. Even if only 10 percent of all fine wines are fully mature before they are drunk up, it’s those great aged wines that set the standard.” She visits Chêne Bleu several times a year and acts as consulting oenologist and mentor to the Rolets and the Galluccis to help them be the best that they can be.

    Zelma Long