Wine Uncovered

Olivier Hickman

A Passion for the Art of Wine & Provence

I fell in love with Provence at an early age. My mother was French and as a child I was often taken to visit my grandmother in Orange. I recall being bowled over by the fairytale beauty of the surrounding countryside and vowing to return when I was “grown up”.

In 1996 I did return – to the nearby village of Rasteau – and it was there that my love affair with the region was rekindled. Not only was the summer landscape even more magical than I remembered it, but the local wines were stunning too.

That visit inspired me to learn more about wine – and as my knowledge grew so did my passion. Due in part, no doubt, to my Provencal roots, I became increasingly fascinated by the wines of Provence, in particular the marvellous Côtes du Rhône wines.

Whilst continuing my day job in London (as a Financial Controller), I obtained my final wine qualifications in 1998 and in 1999 started a wine importing business with a friend from my student days at Cambridge, Jeremy Williams selling Rhône wines. Keen to put some of my theoretical knowledge into practice, I made my first wine in the Languedoc in 2000 and have been making wine every vintage since then.


In 2003, my wife and I succumbed to the irresistible urge to leave London and move permanently to Provence. In 2005 we found a house in Sablet, a lovely village only a stone’s throw from Rasteau, where the seeds of my passion were originally sown.

In the search for good – or even great – wines, I (like most people) have always enjoyed sampling the local wines when visiting France – and there are thousands of road-side signs prompting you to do just that. But how do you know which wine domaines to visit? What will the welcome be like? Who makes the average wines and who makes the great wines? And, if you French is rusty, will you be able to talk to the producers (most of whom speak little or no English) about their wines?

With holiday time so precious I believe that all wine-tastings should be enjoyable, stress-free and informative – with the added guarantee that you will be tasting some top quality wines.

If I were to drink a different wine every day for the rest of my life I would still be unable to taste all of the world’s great wines, which in my book makes drinking bad wine a criminal waste of time ! A wine tasting should therefore not be a “hit-or-miss” experience.

Olivier Hickman