The Same Old Thing? You Won’t Find That Here!


Lionel Osmin & Cie leverages Vinexpo Bordeaux to spotlight wines from lesser known regions

Lionel Osmin & Cie was formed in 2010, marketing wines exclusively from France’s southwest, and has sales already running at 1.5 million bottles last year in 25 countries. This year, Lionel Osmin is presenting a new acti- vity at Vinexpo: wine imports. We asked him to tell us more…

With Imanol Harinordoquy, we created “Les Passeurs de Vin” because when I created Lionel Osmin & Cie, I already had 12 years’ experience as an ambassador for the wines of the southwest, spending most of my time travelling the world. And this enabled me to taste wines from many countries. I was able to discover, over this time, the diversity and richness of all the appellations from around the world. When you have the chance to taste wines from New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Spain, Austria, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and so on over time, it allowed me to forge two things: confidence in our indigenous grape varieties in the southwest, but also I became aware that one can find excellent wines everywhere, and that in France, the consumers were not really aware of this.


So now we also have great pleasure in bringing foreign wines to France and to facilitating the understanding of foreign wines to French consumers, who are increasingly curious and open, and it’s great to enable them to discover foreign wines that they would not have known otherwise. We are presenting wines that people are not too familiar with, whether it be with the wines of France’s southwest or wines of the world. Another factor influencing this decision to import wines was the fact that my grandfather was Spanish. During the civil war, he, like many others, escaped across the Pyrenees, and came to live in this part of France. Thus through family ties, I was always attracted to Spanish wines, and had the conviction they would find their rightful place on the French consumer market. I spoke about this already in 2010 to Imanol Harinordoquy (eds: a French International Rugby Union player), who was a wine fan as well. At that time, he was still pursuing his career – but he told me that he would like to eventually join in on an adventure like that, firstly because he likes wine, and secondly, because his family had a long background doing business in Spain, primarily in the field of livestock trading. In 2014, I finally found some time to work on the project, after several intense years after the debuts of Lionel Osmin & Cie. I contacted Imanol and he said, “Let’s do it!” We work as a team: me working on quality selection and him more in an ambassadorial role. In 2014, he was still playing for Biarritz, then two years in Toulouse to end his rugby career, and due to this, the time he could devote to the business was limited. We put the business together in 2014, but we really started operating in 2015, the first months being dedicated to selecting and stocking wines. In 2015 we thus started uniquely with a selection of Spanish wines, and now, two years later, we have opened the range to German, Italian and Argentinian wines. We are working with around 20 producers in total, and I have been very pleasantly surprised by the reaction of French buyers, whether they be wine store or restaurant operators, they seem to really have a strong will to allow their customers to discover something a little more exotic. So, for these people, we have become somewhat of a one-stop- shop as a preferred supplier. We have around 100 references now, and they are also able to bundle these wines with our wines from the South West.
Hall 1, Stand E324

Photo: Lionel Osmin & Imanol Harinordoquy, Les Passeurs de Vins