Interview: Olivier Magny of Ô Chateau
Do you consider yourself a French wine-lover? Well then you’ll want to meet Paris-based bar à vin owner and wine connoisseur Olivier Magny.
A font of wisdom for all things vin, Olivier talks to MaVieFrançaise® about his love of the grape, blogging, and his latest book entitled ‘Into Wine’, which will be on the shelves in April.
Olivier, how would you describe yourself in three words?
Lucky, cheeky, in love.
What is the earliest memory you have of appreciating or enjoying wine?
Like most French people, I had the occasion of sampling wine when I was little, but I didn’t grow up in that type of family where kids were served a little wine at every meal.
My very first ‘wow’ memory is back when one of my dad’s friends brought an amazing bottle of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild (that was before the crazy inflation of Bordeaux wines). He was kind enough to pour a glass for my friends and I: we were completely blown away!
Tell us about the moment you knew you were going to ditch your desk job and work in wine.
At the time, I was a student in a prestigious business school, interning for prestigious companies. And the one thing that struck me is that no matter how well-dressed or well-paid the people I worked for were, they all had one thing in common: they seemed unhappy.
I sensed that life [was a scam]. How could they all be so smart if they were so miserable?
So I decided that life was not for me. And if I were to be happy, pursuing something I felt a deep connection to seemed like the right thing to do.
Why are you so passionate about sharing your love and knowledge of wine with others? Why wasn’t simply starting an ‘ordinary’ wine bar enough?
Well, not a lot of people know this, but Ô Chateau started almost 10 years ago now as a place for visitors [to Paris] to learn about wine.
Wine is a beautiful thing but many consider it too complicated or intimidating. I really wanted to break that mould, to make wine understandable, fun and accessible to all. The wine bar came after that. We were looking for a new home for Ô Chateau and we found this incredible space near the Louvre, the former hôtel particulier of the Marquise de Pompadour. Since it was so big, we just decided to throw a wine bar in the mix!
When and how did you realise that you had a talent for writing? Why do you think ‘Stuff Parisians Like’ took off like it did?
Thank you. ‘Stuff Parisians Like’ started as a blog; and the great thing about blogs is that you can sense if people are interested in what you’re writing. It was not at all a literary endeavour at first, just another blog really. And then, readers started emailing me asking me to please post more often, they started commenting a lot each time I posted.
I’m not sure I believe in my talent, but I certainly loved the interactions. So I tried to up my game to live up to their expectations: spending more time writing each article, trying to find first, and then stick to, a unique voice. Now ‘Stuff Parisians Like’ has turned into an international best-seller and I can say how surprised and lucky I feel. The biggest surprise of all is that Parisians seem to love it too!!
What came first: the relationship you have with local wine growers, or your wine bar? Tell us about it.
Well, it all started with these wine tasting classes. Like most wine professionals, I spend a lot of time attending industry tastings, or travelling to the wine regions. That’s the necessary (and rather awesome) groundwork you need to do to present to your clients wines that will blow their minds!
When we opened the wine bar, we decided we would serve 40 wines by the glass daily, with a new selection each week. So Ô Chateau is a very exciting place for any wine lover, but also for the team because we’re always on the hunt for our next favorite.
You’re now a published author, and you own an incredibly popular wine bar in Paris. What’s the next challenge?
I recently got married, so my new priority is to be a good husband. Family first!
Workwise, we are working with Ô Chateau on a really fantastic new project that should be majorly exciting for any wine lover from or visiting Paris.
My book (called ‘Into Wine’) is also coming out in April, which I’m very excited about as I’ve been working on it for over 4 years. Plus we have this great new video blog also coming out to help people learn more about wine and visit the beautiful French wine regions from the comfort of their home, and for free!
Thank you Olivier, for taking the time to speak with MaVieFrançaise®. It was great to learn more about you, your book and fabulous Parisian wine bar.
68, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau