The wines of Domaine de l’Octavin were once the wines of “Opus Vinum,” a Latin phrase that loosely translates to “Wine Work,” which served as an homage to Alice Bouvot and Charles Dagand’s shared love of opera. This little fact of their estate’s history provides some etymological insight into many of their cuvées, named after characters from Mozart’s operas: Don Giovanni, Zerlina, Pamina, Dorabella, Commendatore, etc. If it hadn’t been for a 2005 cease-and-desist letter from “Opus One” (a Mondavi-Rothschild Napa imprint), demanding a name change for Alice and Charles’s then-tiny-and-just-launched winery, this would be a newsletter about the iconic and rare production range of the Jura estate “Opus Vinum.” Instead – a blessing in disguise, perhaps – we are writing to you about some of the finest and most highly sought-after wines in the natural-wine-world-over: Domaine de l’Octavin.
Having grown up as a classically trained musician on the cello and piano, Alice has often called upon her musical acumen to analogize what notes she plays upon in the vines and cellar alike. To play a Rostropovich, for instance, would require a kind of technical perfection – a pursuit of perfect imitation, studded with literal motor acuity & a grasp of theory beyond compare; whereas to improvise an original piece at a party would paralyze this same player, unable to conjure three meager notes. So it goes with wine: her Bordelaise apprenticeships and oenological degree in Dijon lent her the technical burnish needed to produce wines in pursuit of a perfect imitation. These wines, while ‘perfect,’ were fatally flawed to her mind – they were not ‘living.’ To become living – to improvise! such is life – would require some feeling. Having founded their now-legendary l’Octavin in Arbois in 2005, Alice and Charles have been certified biodynamic since 2010 and make a huge range of cuvées from of a long list of grapes planted on a very small acreage, selling nearly everything they make in a vintage so there will be little, if any, left for direct sales at the Domaine itself. Jura gems: these are the buried treasures they told you about, the auroras that sailors on frozen seas might rhapsodize for all-time.