The logo of a silhouette of a dude sporting an African straw hat from Burkina is now the iconic symbol of every wine maker’s struggles in France.
In a New Year’s declaration posted on his blog in early January, Olivier B announced that he would be forced to shutter his winery due to mounting debts and a love life turned sour. The wine shed where he vinified his harvest was up for sale and his bank was unwilling to extend him a loan to acquire it or another shed in the region. He had arrived at what the French call a “passage vide.”
Having touted the wines of Olivier B in a June 20 post, PVB arranged for Olivier B. to meet up with an American importer from Washington D.C. on January 7 in Aix-en-Provence. Yet at the very moment Olivier B was in Aix at the Cave du Felibrige, his blog, which usually received anywhere from 10 to 500 hits a month, began to surge with visitors.
With wine bloggers mobilizing across France — posts, tweets, text messages and Facebook — Olivier B became the new poster farmer for the distressed state of agriculture in France. In January, his blog had 2,800 visitors. Then 1,000 alone visited in one week in February.
Miss Glou Glou of Le Monde posted Olivier B’s tale on her blog on January 29. Le Hedoniste in Paris feted Olivier B and his wines at a tasting on January 31 attended by fellow bloggers and new adherents.
A loud green light flashed in media-land when AFP ran the story on Feb 8. Newspapers, radio stations and Canal +, the leading cable channel in France, featured Olivier B, as did radio stations in Belgium and in Switzerland.
Orders flooded into Olivier B’s small storefront in the center of Villes sur Auzon. In two weeks, he sold 20,000 euros of wine. Demand continues. While he faces challenges ahead to clear his books of all monies owed and to locate a new wine shed, Olivier B is redux, positioned to move ahead as a fringe-celebrity in the wine world.
In a recent post on his blog, he quips that although he dreamed of being saved from ruin by receiving a 95 note from Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate, he now has hundreds of Robert Parkers to thank for his recovery. He signs off with the valediction, “Parkerly yours.” Olivier B is considering taking a “bloglougloutournée,” a tour of France to share a glass of his wine with bloggers, internaut supporters and new clients.
This story has legs….(not to be confused with wine legs).
Restaurants serving Olivier B in the Vaucluse: Le Phebus, Joucas; Les Bories, Gordes; La Bastide de Gordes, Gordes, Chez Serge, Carpentras; Hôtel Les Florêts, Gigondas; Le Montmirail, Vacqueyras; Prevoté, L’Isle Sur-le-Sorgue
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