Raised in Paris and the Loire Valley, importer Camille Rivière began compiling her small portfolio of small, mostly French, natural producers in 2012, but her eagerness to learn about wine began at age 16, when she started skipping school to go to wine tastings in Paris. After graduating with a degree in hotel and restaurant management, she spent time working as an assistant food and beverage manager in a four-star Parisian hotel, as an intern at Morrell & Company in New York City and, finally, as a manager of high-end accounts for mega-importer Frederick Wildman.
But then she split. Rivière called it quits to go home to France and rejigger her life, discovering, while on vacation, the joys of the country’s natural wines. After spending two years traveling, she launched her namesake Camille Rivière Selections, which she runs out of her apartment. She’s become known for her dedication to translating the narrative and mission of each producer stateside, from the calling card wines from Languedoc’s Clos Fantine and Mas Coutelou to Jura cult favorite Stéphane Tissot.
So what does Rivière like to drink (other than natural wine), and where does she go to find it? Here, she shares her life mantra, her strangest childhood hobbies and her go-to dive bar drink order. –Lizzie Munro
French wine import/distribution.
What do want to be when you grow up?
A winemaker in the Loire Valley, growing chenin and pineau d’aunis in Jasnières.
First time you ever got drunk:
10 years old at a wedding in the south of France. Thought the punch bowl was tasting sweet and kept on sneaking back with a straw to get more while all the adults were dancing. My mom found me sound asleep in the swing in the back of the garden later in the night. The next day, we drove 300 kilometers across the winding roads of the Alps; I still remember the feeling.
Best thing you ever drank:
Too many. I can’t think about one in particular. Mas Coutelou Cinsault 2003, some old Corbineau from Touraine, reds from Clos du Rouge Gorge in Côtes Catalanes, Overnoy poulsard and so many others.
Worst thing you ever drank:
If it doesn’t smell good, I usually refrain from drinking it.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
When I was a kid, I had ant farms, organized a snail race and also dissected small animals to see how they were made.
What you reach for when you’re not drinking wine?
Water, tea, coffee, beer.
Dive bar drink order?
Preferred hangover recovery regime:
A dozen oysters. Black radish carpaccio also works well.
One thing you wish would disappear from wine lists forever:
Over-manipulated, faux wine with tons of oak, chemicals and sulfur?
Your life mantra:
If anyone did it, so can I.
If you had to listen to one album on loop for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The Ten Bells in New York, L’Avant Comptoir and Le Garde Robe in Paris, La Cave Saint-Martin in Roquebrun (south of France), and I’ve not yet been to Bar Brutal in Barcelona, but I can’t wait.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
Villa Más in Spain. I still dream about the carpaccio of langoustine from Palamós. It’s a simple approach to cooking—produce-oriented, on the beach—with an insane cellar of old natural wines collected by former DJ-turned-chef Carlos Orta.
The last text message you sent:
“I’ll be there in 5mn, I have the samples and they are chilled.”