Our Wine Producers
9.5 Cold Wine
It is the careful selection of a particular type of cryophilic yeast, one that can ferment the grape juice at extremely low temperatures (around 9.5°C) for 30 to 35 days, that produces a wine that is fruity yet complex. Hence the name of 9.5 Cold Wine.
Cycling fans may already be familiar with these wines as 9.5 Cold Wine is a long-time sponsor of the Giro D'Italia.
AA Badenhorst Family Wines
After completing his studies at Elsenburg, Adi Badenhorst spent time in France working at Château Angélus in Saint-Émilion and with Alain Graillot in the Northern Rhône and then set off for a spell at Wither Hills in New Zealand. Upon his return to South Africa, Badenhorst did stints at Simonsig, Steenberg and Groote Post before settling down as winemaker at Rustenberg for what was to be a nine year stay. Definitely an enviable pedigree!
In 2008, he decided to strike out on his own, purchasing the 60ha Kalmoesfontein farm in the Swartland appellation with his cousin Hein and founded the AA Badenhorst estate. They farm their 35ha of mature, dry-farmed bushvines with minimal intervention and they make their wines in a traditional manner with what some might regard as old fashioned equipment, including a big old cement kuipe (open top fermenter). To Badenhorst, this is all part of the experience and the interaction that he and his family have with their land and their wines, and the immense character and charm of them all is a fitting testament to his philosophy.
Although Acustic was founded only as recently as 2004, Albert has 17ha of his own vines in Montsant and leases a further 25ha both of which are predominantly planted with the red Garnacha (Grenache) and Cariñena (Carignan, but known as Samsó here) varieties and with a small percentage of the white varieties Garnacha Blanca (Grenache Blanc), Macabeo (Viura) and Garnacha Gris (Grenache Gris).
Through fermentation using natural yeasts and a cautious use of French oak, the wines of Acustic show the incredible fruit, power and terroir of DO Montsant. The barrels used to age the wines help the wines achieve maturity without hiding the character of the grapes from which they have been made.
Using modern winemaking and bottling technologies, and supported by highly skilled oenologists and winery technicians, Antonini Ceresa still successfully produces high quality wines at pleasingly affordable prices.
Awards for the Astoria Vini range of wines are numerous and it is seldom a year that goes by at Vinitaly, Italy's major wine fair, that the Polegato brothers are not rewarded in some form. In addition to the high quality of their wines they consistently offer exceptionally stylish packaging, helping the Astoria Vini to wines stand out in any situation. Great value, great looking and great quality.
The current estate was established in 1998 by the direct descendants of Charles Bascand, and from the outset it created wines that showcased the best of the Marlborough and Waipara regions. Bascand Estate was initially built on 25 hectares of prime Marlborough land, renowned for producing prize winning wines. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir grapes are grown in Bascand’s Marlborough vineyards, while a further 25 hectares of outstanding vineyards in Waipara that were added subsequently are responsible for expressive Riesling and Pinot Gris.
They settled in Marlborough and planted their vineyard by hand, at first selling its grapes to local wineries before eventually producing their own wines under the Bladen label. Despite being one of only nine vineyards in the Marlborough region when they started out, the Macdonalds quickly built a reputation for their exceptional cool climate wines. The Bladen banner is a fitting tribute to their pioneering spirit, derived as it is from the names of their two children, Blair and Deni, who were merely toddlers when their parents took such a huge leap of faith.
Founded in 1993, Bodega Pirineos is a joint venture between the sherry producer Bodegas Barbadillo (76%) and the Somontano Regional Cooperative (24%). Over 200 skilled winemakers contribute to Pirineos and its vineyards are amongst Somontano’s oldest. As a result, the wines of Bodega Pirineos are of the highest quality and they combine indigenous and international grape varieties with aplomb.
Although the winery is one of the few actually located within the city of Mendoza, Bodega Toneles’ vineyards are scattered across different regions of the province. Despite the fact that Mendoza’s climate is quite desert-like, the snow melt that runs off the Andes supplies plenty of fresh water for irrigation and the large day to night temperature swing intensifies the aromas, the freshness and the colours of the grapes.
Bodega Toneles combines the best aspects of traditional techniques, such as hand harvesting the grapes at the moment of optimal ripeness, with the very latest technology and equipment at the winery.
Bodegas Osca is based is the region of Somontano which lies in the foothills of the Pyrenees and boasts rich landscapes and a unique climate, ideal for grape growing. Mediterranean in character, with temperatures ranging between 3ºC in January and 22ºC in August, the result is a perfect environment for vines to thrive.
The small village of Ponzano marks the entrance to this magnificent wine region. At a distance of 20km from the capital of Somontano, Barbastro, it belongs to the province of Huesca in Aragon, northern Spain. From the slopes that surround Ponzano,vineyards and olive groves stretch as far as the eye can see; views brimming with nuances that afford peace and tranquility and encourage further contemplation.
Their unirrigated vineyards cover an area of 30 hectares of calcareous-clay soil and share the landscape with indigenous hermes oaks, olive trees and cereals. They sit at a height of 530 metres above sea level; the highest area of Somontano. The annual rainfall of around 500 to 600 mm provides just the right amount of water and grey skies alternate with abundant golden light, which nurtures and warms the vines.
Owned by the Borruel family, which includes Gregorio as oenologist, Félix the viticulturist and Ángel as GM and sales director. Their philosophy is a carefully thought out match between tradition and modernity, and between terroir and avant-garde production.The modest production in the vineyard converts into 1,500 hectolitres per year, meticulously hand-crafted wine that is produced in small stainless steel tanks with just 10,000 litre capacity.
This is an excellent winery most famous for producing young fresh wines for early drinking. They have managed to capture the freshness expected of Somontano which give the wines both elegance and character.
Bodegas Pedro Escudero
For several generations now, the Escudero family has been the heir to a line of grape growers who are dedicated to their land and to the customs and the traditions regarding the cultivation of their vines. The family owns a vineyard planted with 65ha of Verdejo and 10ha of Viura. The name of this vineyard is "Fuente Elvira" and its soil, which is famously rocky, is some of the most highly regarded in the Rueda district.
The Escudero family, and patriarch Pedro in particular, are recognised as being some of the very best grape growers in all of Rueda. Pedro Escudero is often approached by neighbours looking for advice about vineyard issues. The Escudero family has only been bottling its own wines since 2002, although they had been growing and selling grapes for a number of years prior to this.
At Bodegas Pedro Escudero, traditional viticulture without fertilisers or pesticides and the gentle vinification of the grapes are core principles in the pursuit of quality wines. The winery farms its vineyards organically, but it doesn't feel the need to pursue organic certification.
Bodegas San Cebrin
San Cebrin's winery was built in 1999 and benefits from the finest of modern technology, including computerised temperature control of each individual stainless steel vat. This negates the need for much manual work, reducing greatly the wage cost of the bodega which in turn allows them to offer the keenest of prices. Today Bodegas San Cebrin's members control over 400 hectares of vines, with Tempranillo accounting for the lion's share of red grapes and with Viura its main white variety. Although both Crianza and Reserva wines are made, we firmly believe that the greatest value is offered by their younger Joven wines that consistently show fine levels of fruit aromas and flavours.
Bodegas Señorío De Arana
Situated under the slopes of Monte Toloño on the banks of the River Ebro, the Viña Del Oja winery sees state-of-the-art technology in the bodega combined with a deep understanding of traditional winemaking, guaranteeing the quality of their wines.
The grapes from each plot of vineyards are harvested individually, and each parcel is carefully monitored and controlled throughout vinification so that grapes sourced from different soils and from vines of different ages are kept separate until the final blend is assembled. Initial fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks so that temperatures can be carefully controlled and the wines are then aged in a combination of French and American oak for up to 30 months depending upon their designation of Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva.
Bodegas Y Viñedos O. Fournier
Young José Manuel went to Pennsylvania to study, and soon after graduating, landed a rewarding job at Goldman Sachs. "During that time I also did my military service in Spain. So I spent some months as a humble soldier, and then a week later I was handling enormous budgets. After 1995, I ran South American investments for Banco Santander in Madrid. I wasn’t much of a wine drinker back then. I first got into wine as an investment. Collectors of top Bordeaux were doing well, so I started buying and cellaring top Spanish wines such as Vega Sicilia, Janus from Pesquera, and L’Ermita from Priorat. Then I started visiting wineries to source more wines.
"During my travels I got to know people in Argentina who knew I was thinking of getting into the wine business. I looked at various propositions there and eventually heard about what is now my property. This part of the Valle de Uco in southern Mendoza was already becoming one of the most desirable wine regions in Argentina. The local real estate guy tried to cheat me by asking double the price at which he was advertising the property – some locals hear my Spanish accent and think I must be a fool. So I went directly to the owner and made the deal.
"That was in 2000. The vines once planted at this property had been ripped out in the 1980s and replaced by tomatoes. I tested the water wells, which were excellent, restored the abandoned houses, and planted vines again, including the only bush vines in South America. We used rented winery facilities until my own winery was ready in 2003."
And what a winery it is. From a distance, it looks as though a flying saucer has landed on concrete pods in the middle of scrubland and vines. Indeed, the roof is a 43-square-metre steel slab resting on four stubby concrete pillars, linked by glass-walled office areas, with the winery itself spread over four storeys below. The design is made even more dramatic by two ramps that sweep up to the glass offices on both sides, and the cumulative effect is remarkably beautiful. The gravity-operated facility is mostly underground, and the vast, hushed, concrete-walled barrel cellar is 50 feet below the plaza next to the winery.
"I needed the winery to be functional as well as beautiful, so my winemaker José Spisso had a large say in its design."
The O. Fournier estate owns three vineyards in the La Consulta region of Mendoza, planted to classic red varieties with an emphasis on Tempranillo. Working with a number of local growers, Bodegas O. Fournier also buys in high quality grapes from old vines, employing a system which actively encourages green harvest and low yields. "While waiting for my bush vines to mature I bought fruit from local growers. It’s also a kind of insurance. There are risks of hail and frost and it makes sense to spread the risk by buying from different areas. But my 17 growers are within 15 miles of the winery. I pay not by the tonne but by the hectare – which was almost unheard of in those days – so that I can control the farming. We set a likely harvest date and if by that date Spisso and I decide the vines need more hang-time, I assume all the risk. If thereafter the crop gets wiped out by hail, I must pay the farmer in full. In other words, I treat my growers exceptionally well. This means we made really good wines from the outset in 2001."
Ortega admits he is primarily a businessman. But his commitment to quality is uncompromising. "I know little about the technical side of the business, so I hire the best. Spisso has been with me from the start and oversees both my properties" (Ortega also owns the 60ha Spiga estate in Ribera del Duero, Spain). He has also built a handsome glass cube of a restaurant next to the winery, run by his wife, and he has plans for small luxury resorts on his properties.
Because of Hemel-en-Aarde's cool climate, the wines of Bouchard Finlayson are much more restrained in style than those from many other new world countries. Given Peter Finlayson's mastery of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, comparisons of his wines with those from Burgundy are inevitable and are far from detrimental. He firmly believes that great wines can only be made from the finest grapes, which he attains by limiting yields and by meticulously caring for his vineyards. Once at the winery, the grapes are handled as little as possible so as not to detract from their inherent quality. It's no surprise that Bouchard Finlayson makes some of South Africa's best wines.
The continued focus on biodiversity and conservation at Bouchard Finlayson means that only 22 of the 125 hectares of the estate is under vine amidst the unique native fynbos flora which flourishes unhindered in this delightful region.
Bremerton was established in Langhorne Creek back in 1985, in an area noted for producing some of the finest wine grapes grown in Australia. Craig and Mignonne Willson set up the vineyard and today they have been joined by daughters making it a truly family affair. Winemaker, Rebecca Willson, and Marketing Manager, Lucy Willson, have focussed the family’s wine range on high quality and individualistic wines. They have given Bremerton a strong foothold in the highly competitive wine market with Rebecca’s first label at age 25 - the 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon - winning a trophy and rated third best Cabernet in Australia by Winestate magazine.
Since then the Willson Sisters have taken Bremerton to become one of the best known brands from South Australia’s Langhorne Creek wine region.
Rebecca seeks the best possible fruit both from her own vineyards and from those of other specialised Langhorne Creek growers to craft traditional, full bodied, full flavoured, mouth filling Langhorne Creek wines that show a consistency of style whilst enabling the true varietal grape characteristics to be expressed.
The winery has invested heavily in a premium French and Amercian oak program, using 220 litre barriques to ensure subtle and complementary oak influences. The winery utilises tradtional open top fermenters made from stainless steel and a purpose built barrel cellar for maturation. New laboratory and tasting facilities are also part of the winery.
Premium wines require premium grapes. Bremerton Wines has 290 acres planted at Langhorne Creek from which it selects its best fruit each year, with the balance being sold to other wineries. Best quality practices ensure best quality grapes. The predominant grape varieties grown are Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, with smaller quantities of Sauvignon Blanc, Verdelho, Chardonnay, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
Brunel De La Gardine
Cantina Fratelli Pardi
In the years following Alberto’s untimely death in 1943, the founders’ sons closed the winery to concentrate on other business interests, founding the Tessitura Pardi weaving mill in 1949. However, Alberto’s son, Rio, wanted to maintain his family’s winemaking traditions and skills and he continued to produce small quantities of Sagrantino Passito at his own house.
In 1990, Alberto and Agostino Pardi, the managers of Tessitura Pardi, required more space for their textile operations and moved the weaving mill out of Montefalco to new, larger premises. In 2002, their children, Francesco, Gianluca Rio and Alberto Mario, rekindled the Pardi’s passion for winemaking when they restored the old family buildings and revived their great-grandfathers’ winery.
Montefalco is known as “The Balcony of Umbria” thanks to its extraordinary geographical position: it is located on a hilltop and overlooks the valleys of the Clitunno, Topino and Tiber rivers. After the fall of the Roman Empire various settlements sprang up in the area, possibly on the ruins of the Roman villas, one of which was Montefalco. Historically known as Coccorone, between late 1249 and early 1250 this settlement was renamed Montefalco, probably owing to the falcons of the Swabian Emperor Frederick II. The Emperor visited the town from 9th to 13th February 1240, evidenced by the arch that was built in his honour.
Montefalco is famous for the frescoes of its churches and they are important references of Umbrian painting, as well as for the production of wine. In 1340, an order of Franciscan friars settled in the building of Saint Francis and started growing vines and producing wine. The municipal statutes recognised the importance of the surrounding land and the wines it produced, fixing the dates and the rules for the vintage and for the sale of wine. A system of severe punishments was established for anyone who damaged or stole from the vineyards. Nowadays, the Saint Francis monastery is a museum and it is the symbol of Montefalco’s proud wine producing history.
The story of the Pardi’s current winery begins in 2003, and the whole business is run from within it ancient walls. The wine-making room is equipped with modern stainless steel tanks and an underground ageing cellar is filled both with French barriques and with traditional large barrels made of oak from the Alps and Slavonia.
The Fratelli Pardi vineyards extend for about 11 hectares and are all located in Montefalco, along the gentle hills of Casale, Campolungo, Pietrauta and Lasignano. The choice of these areas is the result of the long winemaking experience of the family and its understanding of the terroir and traditions of the region. Ever mindful of the quality of its wines and respectful of regional production regulations, the Pardi family cultivates and harvests its vineyards entirely by hand.
Catherine Marshall Wines
Catherine Marshall Wines is nestled firmly in the world-renowned Elgin Valley - the bountiful home of much of South Africa's finest fruit produce. Elgin is surrounded by majestic mountains, yet it is only 30 minutes away from the ocean. All of nature’s beauty abounds in this place, creating the perfect conditions for a great harvest.
Catherine Marshall graduated from Elsenburg in 1991. Apprenticeships at Blaauwklippen, Delaire and Vergelegen were interspersed with international experiences in France (Burgundy and Saint-Émilion), USA (Sonoma County and Oregon) and Australia. Resident winemaking positions followed at Meinert/Ken Forrester Winery, Amani and Ridgeback Wines before embarking on a solo career when she established and ran Catherine Marshall Wines.
The inspiration to set up a small winemaking project occurred after a foot-crush celebration in 1996. It produced a bottling of three barrels of delicious Syrah which was distributed amongst the party revellers. In 1997, the company was formally inaugurated as the Barefoot Wine Company. At this time, she was instrumental in formalising the Garagiste Movement which has gone on to become very successful in South Africa, with many small producers becoming involved. Although she no longer participates, she has been inducted as an honorary member.
As cellar master at various wineries, Catherine Marshall has garnered many local and international awards and 5 star Platter ratings. This resulted in the launch of her small yet enterprising operation, where a hands-on philosophy in the vineyards and total dedication to quality production are the focus.
It was only through enthusiasm, perseverance, and force of will that Boizel-Martin managed to succeed as the production of Champagne still held many secrets. Production was unreliable as harvests were often very poor in both quantity and quality; secondary fermentation occurred irregularly because the role of sugar and yeasts had not yet been recognised or understood; and, even if everything went smoothly during the winemaking process, sometimes over half of the bottles would break in the cellars during second fermentation due to the fragility of the glass used. They also had to create a market for their wines, both at home and abroad.
Edouard Boizel, son of Auguste and Julie, married Adèle Camuset, a descendant of another illustrious Champagne house, in 1868 and together they developed Boizel's first brut Champagnes as a contrast to the fashion for sweeter wines at that time. A part of their drive to increase quality ever further they also created Boizel's first vintage Champagne, a few bottle of which still remain in the family's deepest cellars.
After the ravages of the First World War, Jules Boizel succeeded his father in 1918 and he set about further refining the delicacy of his brut Champagnes. His legacy to Boizel was the Blanc De Blanc cuvée that he first produced in 1929. War had once again taken its heavy toll upon France when Jules' son René took over in 1945. His primary aim was to replenish stocks and he swiftly recovered the lustre and eminence of the Boizel house. Inspired by the legendary vintage of 1961, Jules developed Boizel's first prestige cuvée, Joyau De France.
Following the heartbreaking passing of her husband René and the serious illness of her son Eric in 1972, Erica Boizel bravely took the reins, aided by her daughter and son-in-law Evelyne and Christophe. To celebrate the marque's 150th anniversary in 1984, Evelyne summed up the spirit of the Boizel family in a new company motto: "One family, one house, one tradition" and set up a new headquarters on the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay. She also modernised and re-equipped the winery and barrel cellar to help secure the quality of future vintages. As of 2011, Evelyne and Christophe's children, Florent and Lionel, have joined their parents bringing with them their experience of winemaking both in France and abroad to contribute to the ongoing development of Boizel.
Boizel owns 7 hectares of vineyards in Champagne and has close relationships and long standing contracts with many other growers who supply top quality grapes to satisfy its requirements. These are crushed and fermented in the ultramodern, temperature controlled winery to preserve the clarity and aromas of the fruit in the vins clairs - the still wines that form the base of Boizel Champagne. The still wines are tasted every two weeks between the end of November and February to understand their individual characteristics before the selection process for blending takes place in March or April. A proportion of one and two year old reserve wines are also added to the Boizel NV, bringing body and consistency to the blend. Some of the wines from grand cru vineyards are aged in oak to add further complexity to the blender's palette. Once blending is compete, it is time alone that allows the development of complexity, body and harmony, everything that Champagne lovers expect from Boizel Champagnes.
Joseph Bollinger married Louise-Charlotte, daughter of Athanase, in 1837. In time their sons, Joseph and then Georges, took over the business. From the phylloxera crisis to the turmoil of the Great War, they were to face some of the house’s greatest challenges. Under the guidance of the two brothers, Bollinger nonetheless gained great renown and extended its vineyards considerably. In 1920, Jacques Bollinger, son of Georges, found himself at the helm: a weighty burden for a 24-year old. He faced the challenge with courage, aided by his cousins Pierre and Yves Moret de Rocheprise; for the strength of Bollinger also lies in its powerful family ties. Sophisticated, cultivated and a fluent English-speaker, Jacques increased Bollinger's prominence across the Channel. He guided the house with great wisdom through the difficult years of recession and the Second World War, and as Mayor of Aÿ he was committed to protecting his village.
When Scotswoman Elizabeth Bollinger (born Law de Lauriston-Boubers) married Jacques in 1923, she was also to become passionately involved with the house’s destiny. She was only 42 when she lost her husband at the height of the war. Without hesitation and with great dignity she stepped in to take up the torch. "Madame Jacques”, as she was known within the house, threw herself heart and soul into her new role. During her many visits abroad her natural grace and charm worked wonders. Cheerful and witty, Madame Bollinger was nonetheless a formidable strategist. A dauntless businesswoman, she was also a perfectionist who would tolerate nothing short of excellence. She was always ready to innovate, and she was the driving force behind the highly original Bollinger R.D. cuvée. The familiar image of her cycling through the vineyards is imprinted in everyone's memories.
With her customary common sense, Madame Bollinger gathered around her those family members who were most able to follow in her footsteps. Firstly she taught Claude d’Hautefeuille, her niece’s husband, the ins and outs of the family business. In 1950, he became a director and launched an ambitious modernisation programme whilst respecting Bollinger’s quality requirements. Madame Bollinger appointed him Chairman in 1971, but she remained closely involved until her death six years later. Madame Bollinger’s nephew, Christian Bizot, took over from Claude in 1978. A great traveller, like his Aunt Lily before him he made a point of meeting with sommeliers, restaurant owners and wine merchants to promote the house’s wines. A great chairman, he was well known for his outspokenness and informality.
In 1994, it was none other than the great-great-grandson of founder Joseph Bollinger who was to become head of the house. After starting his career in Chile, Ghislain de Montgolfier continued to develop the house with the pursuit of excellence as a guiding light. He continues to maintain a policy of voluntarily limiting amounts produced to increase quality, while remaining true to the Bollinger spirit. A tireless worker, Ghislain has a great sense of humour and combines scientific rigour with enthusiasm for success. In 2007, his technical expertise led him to be elected as head of the Board of the Union des Maisons de Champagne and co-chairman of the Comité interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne.
In 2008, for the first time in its history, the house placed its future into the care of a chairman who was not a family member. Their choice fell on Jérôme Philipon, originally from the Champagne region, who had led an impressive career with large industrial groups. The choice might be unexpected - but Bollinger has never hesitated to reject conformity for the good of the house and its wines. With the Bollinger family’s support, Jérôme Philipon has extended his predecessor’s programme of modernisation and investment. With him, the house has continued to preserve its traditional expertise while incorporating the best of new technologies for the future development of the brand, both in terms of quality and commercial growth.
Bollinger has created prestigious Champagnes with character, distinguished by their elegance and complexity, since 1829. These outstanding wines are the result of rigorous attention to detail, for Bollinger accepts nothing less than excellence. Each and every detail represents a quest for a certain form of perfection. This uncompromisingly independent spirit exemplifies the inimitable elegance for which the Champagne region is renowned and which so impressed the court of England that the house has been awarded the Royal Warrant since 1884.
The house’s 165 hectares are planted with 85% of Grand Cru and Premier Cru vines, spread over seven main vineyards: Aÿ, Avenay, Tauxières, Louvois et Verzenay are planted with Pinot Noir, Cuis with Chardonnay and Champvoisy with Pinot Meunier. Bollinger is one of a very few Champagne houses to grow the majority of its own grapes for its blends. Pinot Noir represents 60% of the house’s vineyard area, corresponding to the exact proportion of this demanding grape variety in the Special Cuvée blend. Complex and powerful, it provides Bollinger wines with their remarkable structure. Another of Bollinger’s distinctive features are two plots, the Clos Saint-Jacques and Chaudes Terres, which have never succumbed to phylloxera. These ungrafted vines are entirely tended by hand and are propagated using a form of layering called provignage, thereby providing the means to preserve this extraordinary heritage from which the very exclusive Vieilles Vignes Françaises cuvée is produced.
The Bollinger vines are an integral part of the geography of the Champagne region, their straight rows, which count for some of the most tightly planted in the world, creating a highly recognisable landscape. To preserve this harmony, the house constantly improves its vineyard by replacing iron stakes by pine posts, planting flowers and installing pristine boundary markers. Bollinger also supports sustainable vinegrowing by grassing over the ground, using biological pest control, significantly reducing the use of herbicides and recycling pruning waste. Planting hedges and orchards helps to preserve biodiversity, while the 4 hectares of the Côte Aux Enfants vineyard are managed organically. Bollinger is the first Champagne house to obtain High Environmental Value certification, marking the strength of its commitment to protecting the vineyard.
The underground world of the house’s cellars reveals the full importance of time at Bollinger. After primary fermentation in small stainless steel or wooden casks, the wine is bottled in the spring and taken down to rest in the pervading silence of the chalk cellars. The Special Cuvée will remain there for at least three years and vintage cuvées for much longer. It is this long period of rest that develops the extraordinarily delicate aromas of the wine and gives the bubbles their smooth texture. Each year, some of the very best wines are added to the house’s exceptional collection of 700,000 reserve magnums which are kept for blending Special Cuvée. Stoppered with natural corks during a light secondary fermentation, these magnums enable each wine, from every cru and every plot, to reveal the infinite subtlety of their bouquet and to develop their full complexity while being protected from oxidation. This is a luxury that gives Bollinger the opportunity of letting wines mature over many years before being used. The art of using reserve wines has reached absolute perfection!
Bollinger’s pursuit of excellence does not stop with the winemaking process. Riddling and disgorging of all vintage wines, with their natural cork stoppers, is still carried out by hand. The house has always striven to keep the natural balance of its wines and adds very little extra sugar. Bollinger is also uncompromising in its choice to allow bottles to rest for three months after disgorging to give the wine all of the time it needs to stabilise. The finishing touch is given in a brand new building at Oger, set in the Côte des Blancs vineyards, where modern technology and perfection go hand in hand. Here, amidst the bustle of machinery, the bottles are at last clad in the house colours. Labelled and packaged, they are finally ready to be shipped to clients the world over.
Bollinger does not seek to produce vintage cuvées at all costs. It is only done when a grape harvest turns out to be absolutely exceptional: grapes must be perfectly ripe and present an ideal balance between sugar and acids. The house’s uncompromising commitment to according vintage status to only the very best of years has given rise to the name of this outstanding cuvée. La Grande Année and La Grande Année Rosé, the house’s prestige cuvées, are cogent demonstrations of a vintage year’s extraordinary qualities. Vinified exclusively in casks, they illustrate Bollinger’s interpretation of a grape harvest. The outstanding Bollinger R.D. cuvée takes these vintages to an even higher level with a remarkably long period of ageing on its lees. This is a Champagne that truly demonstrates the advantages of the passing years.
Because quality is anchored in the precision of each movement to be carried out, every stage of production of Bollinger wines is marked by a specific action. Passed on and perfected from generation to generation for nearly two centuries, these production secrets are one of the house’s greatest assets. Bollinger never yields to the easy option: wherever ancestral techniques have proved to guarantee the highest quality, they are preserved however challenging this choice might prove. Hand riddling, reserve magnums and vintage cuvées stoppered with natural corks, and a resident cooper: the house proudly perpetuates ancient skills and valuable crafts. Indeed, Bollinger is the first Champagne house to obtain the highly respected Patrimoine Vivant (living heritage) seal of quality which recompenses exceptional craftsmanship and skill.
Champagne Guy Charlemagne
Champagne Guy Charlemagne is situated in the heart of the Cote des Blancs in the village of Le Mesnil sur Oger. As father to son wine growers since 1892, they only harvest and vinify grapes from their own vineyards. As a family business where tradition finds its path, they wish to share with you the values of their prestigious terroir by highlighting the quality and authenticity of their dream.
Philippe is a most genial man and, as we find with all of the greatest wine makers, his relaxed yet professional style shines through with each of his wines.
Grower Champagnes, unlike those of the mass market major houses, are fashioned to not only express a house style, but also to let the characteristics of their various vineyard sites shine through in each cuvee. Philippe manages this in spades and, with the family being blessed with vineyards in Le Mesnil sur Oger and Oger, two of the most prestigious Grand Crus of the whole of the Champagne vineyard, he has a great basis to craft the finest of Champagnes.
The scattering of individual vineyard plots throughout the two villages give Philippe Charlemagne a palette of base wines with which to fashion the very finest of Blanc de Blanc Champagnes.
Everything about the process of turning grapes into Champagne is traditional, from the hand harvesting to the traditional 4000 kilo presses, the first vinification in stainless steel (a part in oak too for the Mesnillesime Cuvee) to the blending of the base wines. It is this last stage where Philippe really excels marrying the different aromatic and flavour components that, after secondary fermentation in bottle and ageing in the cellars, will give a Champagne of the finest quality that truly expresses a sense of terroir.
Setting off at the age of 24 as a trader and commercial traveller, he finally arrived in Paris in 1834. Dreaming of making his mark in the world of Champagne, Joseph leaped at an opportunity that would eventually lead him to greatness: Joseph Krug was employed by Jacquesson, the leading Champagne house of the time. He quickly became a partner, travelled widely, mixed with the influential, but was far from satisfied.
For him, the essence of Champagne was pleasure, yet variables in the weather could make quality waver dramatically from one year to the next. Joseph dreamed of another way beyond the constraints that compromised Champagne quality.
At the age of 42, a time when most in his position would be close to retiring, he left the security of a comfortable career to risk it all. It was not an easy decision to take, especially considering he had married into the Jacquesson dynasty. But he was ready to put his vision to the test.
In 1840, Joseph met Hippolyte de Vivès, a highly regarded wine merchant in Reims. Over the next three years, the two undertook a secret but fruitful collaboration, testing new blends. This friendship became something of a trial run for the defining Krug approach. In 1843, with the support of de Vivès, Joseph Krug founded the house of Krug & Compagnie. At last he could pursue his dream: to create the very best Champagne every year, regardless of variations in climate.
To immortalise his vision, Joseph confided in the pages of a cherry-red notebook, his enduring testament which survives to this day at the House of Krug. As he wrote in the notebook, passing on his knowledge to his son Paul, he was convinced great Champagne could only be achieved using good wines, tasted separately plot by plot, from good vineyards. Terroir was crucial.
But there was one more key to unlock guaranteed undisputed quality: he needed to free the process from climatic moodiness. So he began to build a reserve of wines, each made of grapes from a separate plot of land with its own specific character. It soon became an extensive mixing palette. Determined to create the most generous expression of Champagne every single year, he drew upon his vast library of reserve wines to compose his prestige wine. In this way, whatever the weather, whatever the harvest, Joseph would always be able to create a Champagne abundant in nuances and of unequalled generosity.
His notebook refers to it as Champagne No.1: Krug Grande Cuvée was born. It was a revolution, an approach beyond the notion of vintage. Joseph had turned his back on the accepted rules of Champagne making. Yet none could deny the exceptional richness, elegance and distinction he achieved in every Krug Grande Cuvée he crafted. From its very inception, Krug would be first in creating only prestige Champagnes every year, a unique and defining trait of Krug to this day.
"A good House should create only two Champagnes of the same quality", Joseph Krug wrote in his notebook; Champagne No. 1, to be the fullest expression of Champagne every single year, and Champagne No. 2, the expression of the circumstances of a particular year captured by Krug, and created only in the years where there is an interesting story to tell. We know it today as Krug Vintage. It is a Champagne which is not a selection of the best wines of a superlative year, but the blend of beautifully expressive wines from the year.
With each new generation, Joseph’s original vision continued to be passed on, cherished and enhanced. In the 1970s, rosé Champagnes were enjoying increasing popularity. Fifth generation brothers, Henri and Rémi Krug, decided to try an experiment. They worked on developing a rosé in authentic Krug style, inspired by Pinot Noir grapes.
Finally, in 1983, Henri and Rémi Krug blind-tested the bouquet of this mystery drop on their father, Paul. Their father was alarmed. “We’re in trouble - somebody in Champagne is copying Krug!” Quickly reassured that this was indeed a Krug, he recovered his composure. To their relief, he liked this bold new creation and gave his blessing to elaborate the house’s first Rosé Champagne.
In 1971, Rémi and Henri Krug made an exquisite, albeit accidental, discovery. Having bought fifteen plots of vines in Mesnil-Sur-Oger, the Champagne region’s most renowned village for Chardonnay, they realised that their purchase included a walled vineyard in the heart of the village. This small plot of only 1.84 hectares soon proved to be a truly fabulous discovery. An ancient inscription reveals its age: “In the year 1698, this wall was built by Claude Jannin and Pierre Dehée Metoen and in the same year the vines were planted by Gaspard Jannin, son of Claude.”
Soon enough, Krug uncovered the plot’s outstanding nature. The walls protecting this small garden create a veritable micro-climate that gives unique character to the Chardonnay grapes within. Its special quality came to light through Krug’s idiosyncratic process of following each plot as an individual wine. After numerous tasting sessions, the wine from Clos Du Mesnil clearly stood out from all the others. They had stumbled upon one of the clearest examples known of the magic of terroir, and it inspired the house of Krug to innovate once more, in the finest tradition of Joseph Krug’s anti-conformism.
For the first time in its history, Krug created a Champagne devoted to a single plot of land, first revealed as Krug Clos du Mesnil 1979. One plot, one grape variety, one year. Thus was born the purest expression of Chardonnay.
Following the sheer serendipity of Krug Clos Du Mesnil, another delightful gem awaited Rémi, Henri and Olivier Krug, the sixth generation. But it was not immediate. For seven years, they searched around the village of Ambonnay, looking for an exceptional plot which might allow them to pay tribute to Pinot Noir, the grape variety closest to the House of Krug’s heart, in the same way that Krug Clos Du Mesnil glorified Chardonnay.
Ambonnay is renowned in Champagne for its Pinot Noir grapes, having been the primary source for Krug since its beginnings. In the 20th century, it seemed all the most worthwhile plots must have been already identified. Yet a hidden treasure did exist. In 1991 they found it. Tucked away on the edge of the village was a minuscule garden plot of just 0.68 hectares: the site we now know as the Clos D’Ambonnay. Although its vines had only been planted in the 20th century, this forgotten corner of terroir proved outstanding.
Purchased by Krug in 1994, the plot produced a harvest worthy of its own vintage just one year later. Krug applied its meticulous savoir-faire to create the extremely rare Krug Clos D’Ambonnay 1995, finally revealed in 2007. A new name was added to the pantheon of great champagnes.
The legacy of Joseph Krug lives on. It is a passion and a unique savoir-faire that have been handed down in a direct line from Joseph Krug to his son Paul, then Joseph II, Paul II, then his sons Henri and Rémi. Today, Henri’s son Olivier Krug represents the sixth generation. It is what makes each bottle of Krug so precious.
At Krug, individuality means distinction, uniqueness, originality and singularity: everything that is expressed by Krug Champagnes. It is also the pursuit of character. This begins with the meticulous, individual selection of each plot of vines. Owing to this exceptionally individual attention, the Chef de Caves gives Krug Grande Cuvée its unique personality and reveals the sublime in each Krug Champagne.
It continues with the vinification of the grapes coming from each plot in separate oak casks. Contrary to popular belief, this is not to lend a woody, tannic or vanilla flavour; oak casks are neutral and Krug vins clairs, or base wines, do not age in oak casks - they are simply born there. They spend a few weeks in these casks just after the grape harvest. During this very short but decisive period, the small volume of these casks gives the still wine the freedom to develop its character and maintains each wine’s individuality. This is vital for creating the blend. These special conditions present at the Champagne’s genesis multiplies rewards later, increasing the Champagne's high ageing potential, enhancing its freshness.
Lastly, its individuality continues with the separate conservation of each wine featuring in Krug’s impressive repertoire of some 150 reserve wines. There are wines from 10 to 12 different vintages, some of which may reach up to 15 years of age. The wines are kept in small vats, allowing aromas and flavours to be preserved for long periods of time. This is a key element, which allows Eric Lebel to compose Krug Champagnes year after year.
The Krug family has always orchestrated the blending of its Champagnes. It is this longstanding tradition that has allowed the living memory of wine years and tastes to remain vibrant. In 1969, in anticipation of his retirement, the visionary Henri Krug brought on board a Chef de Caves, a role admirably filled today by Eric Lebel.
From the very first day of the grape harvest, Eric Lebel is already thinking about blends: just a simple grape, picked from the branch of a vine can give him an indication. Eric Lebel and the Krug Tasting Committee taste and award marks to the wines of that year from some 250 plots, as well as the 150 reserve wines from previous years. These tastings take place during the winter and spring months when the wines can sometimes be more expressive or reveal other facets of their personality. Around 400 wines are thus awarded marks and comments two or three times over the course of the year by each of the members of the Committee. Nearly 5,000 tasting notes are collected and meticulously recorded in the big black tasting book.
At the end of April or the beginning of May, during the burst of creation, Eric Lebel composes the year’s Champagnes, guided by his intuition and talent. On the strength of the teamwork carried out with the Tasting Committee, he proposes three blends to re-create Krug Grande Cuvée. Of these, one is chosen and blended only once. This is the most important time of the year at Krug. Eric Lebel and the Committee also decide to create a Krug Vintage when they sense an interesting personality in that year’s wines during the tasting sessions, believing that Krug lovers will appreciate this tale of the year narrated and signed by Krug.
For Krug, time is not a constraint, it is a strength. It is essential, for it is present at every stage of Champagne creation at Krug, from vinification right through to the extraordinary ageing of Krug’s cuvées. Time is one of Krug’s fundamental guiding forces. The notion of time at Krug is different - take for example the oak casks. In addition to the 200 years needed to obtain a finely grained oak of high quality, due to the slow rate of growth in Haute Futaie, Krug requires that its coopers season the wood for a minimum of three years, in the open air, without the use of artificial acceleration techniques and without making any compromises.
Time’s ultimate contribution is in giving Krug Champagnes their unique fullness and elegance, the result of a stay in the cellar that largely exceeds official requirements. Krug Grande Cuvée, a blend of wines of more than ten different years, some of which are 15 years old, matures in the cellar for at least seven years, and Krug Rosé for at least five years. Krug Vintage and the unique crus of Krug Clos Du Mesnil and Krug Clos D’Ambonnay spend at least ten years in the cellar. Patience, that most unyielding of tests, is priceless here. Time reveals those fine bubbles, sculpts the Champagne’s volume, unfurls its length, affirms its longevity and proves its unparalleled quality. Without this radical, uncompromising stance, it would be impossible to achieve the excellence of Krug Champagnes.
As the secret behind the creation of a great Champagne lies in the blending, the House has been entrusting this delicate and decisive task to its talented cellar master, Philippe Dupuis, for over 25 years now. He has developed an elegant range of Champagnes with a style that is clearly asserted by the predominant presence of black grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) balanced with a strong portion of Chardonnay.
The Perrier family, like many other Champagne producers at the time, owned barely ten hectares of vineyards spread out over Epernay, Aÿ, Avenay, Dizy, Pierry and Chouilly. Pierre-Nicolas set about enhancing his inheritance by acquiring plots in Aÿ, Mailly and in what were to become the Grands Crus of the Côte des Blancs, Avize and Cramant. A quest for perfection motivated his every step. This started with the harvest, which was not used if he considered its quality to be poor. This same mindset meant that Pierre-Nicolas was the first to guarantee the origin of his wines by printing the cru and vintage on his corks to protect against imitations. Rose-Adélaïde invested her passion for excellence into the entertaining of clients and guests in Épernay. Inspired by her taste for the beautiful, she loved to share her attachment to the culture of the Champagne region with her visitors, thus creating a genuine art of hospitality.
Their son Charles - who married Octavie Gallice - was also a perfectionist, keen on science and technological progress, and he took up his parents’ reins. Nature was his passion, and he set about acquiring the knowledge and experience required to coax the best from it. He cultivated an extraordinary number of plants and conducted research into vines, fully aware that the vineyards were the jewel in his house’s crown. Thanks to the addition of rare plots, such as those in the Grands Crus of Mailly and Verzenay, he increased the size of the property he had inherited from his father sixfold.
The reputation of his house’s wines had now become established throughout Europe: Perrier- Jouët was served at the tables of Napoléon III, Leopold 1st of Belgium, Charles 15th the King of Sweden, and of Queen Victoria. In 1861, she awarded Perrier-Jouët her Royal Warrant, thus making the house one of her court’s official suppliers.
Since Charles and his brother Edouard remained childless, it was Octavie’s nephew, Henri Gallice, who took over control of the house from his uncle in 1872. Having been trained by Charles, Henri upheld the traditions of the estate’s founders. He was careful to “maintain a high quality”, by not bottling vintages which he considered not to be good enough, and, as a true oenologist, by blending vintages which have since become legendary. His demanding approach bore fruit: in 1880, a million bottles were exported, in particular to the USA - one of the house’s new markets.
At the same time, Henri Gallice cultivated his taste for contemporary art. This was in 1902, during the period that became known as the “Belle Epoque”. Scientific and technological innovations were pushing back the world’s frontiers, women were claiming their rights and the cinema was launching a new era. A faith in progress and a quest for modernity spawned a wide-ranging stylistic movement: Art Nouveau. Henri Gallice asked one of its instigators, Emile Gallé, to decorate his bottles. This master glassmaker produced a whirl of white Japanese anemones, although another half a century was to go by before this bouquet re-surfaced...
After weathering the disaster of phylloxera and the ravages of the First World War, a fresh chapter of Perrier-Jouët’s history began with Louis Budin. As Henri Gallice had lost his son René, it was Louis Budin, René’s brother-in-law, who took charge of the House. This agricultural engineer and lover of the Champagne region reinvigorated the vineyards, above all by the acquisition of plots in Dizy and the legendary property of Bouron Leroi. Meanwhile, he reorganised his sales network both in France and abroad, before handing over the keys of the house to his son, Michel, who in turn continued to shape the vineyard by adding new plots to it, including parts of another fabulous property: Bouron du Midi.
It was Michel Budin who, in 1964, quite by chance rediscovered the charm of those magnums decorated by Emile Gallé. Bucking contemporary trends he, along with his sales director Pierre Ernst, decided to use them to house his new cuvée, whose racy style was expressed by its unique elegance. As an allusion to Art Nouveau, he called it “La Belle Epoque”, and its first vintage was launched in 1969. Michel Budin then took things further by starting a collection of Art Nouveau furniture and artefacts. In 1990, These works by Majorelle, Guimard and Lalique among others, resulted in the remarkable décor of the Maison Belle Epoque, where Perrier-Jouët’s private guests are now entertained.
Since 2005, Perrier-Jouët has belonged to the Pernod Ricard Group. Over two centuries after its foundation, the spirit of Pierre-Nicolas Perrier and Rose-Adélaïde Jouët still persists. Perrier-Jouët is cultivating its passion for nature in order to express its Champagne philosophy, based on a constantly renewed artistic craftsmanship. It continues on its path alongside artists and designers, nourishing a dialogue inspired by Art Nouveau in which one and all can put their own spin on the movement’s motto: the addition of beauty to utility and poetry to the objects of everyday life.
Made up of the five main Champagne crus, Perrier-Jouët’s vineyards currently extend over 65 hectares. Ideally placed, the best plots are part of the Côte des Blancs; situated mid-slope with a south-by-south-east exposure, they provide the ideal soil for Chardonnay - the house’s emblematic grape variety. Its finesse, its lightness, its floral, occasionally mineral notes and its great length on the palate mean that this white grape variety has become the standard-bearer of the Perrier-Jouët style.
The plots in Montagne de Reims are, for the most part, planted with Pinot Noir. This ancient grape variety has a black skin but white juice and it is less sensitive to spring frosts than Chardonnay. Its fresh fruit notes give body, freshness, generosity and, above all, a long cellar-life to Champagne. In the Marne Valley, the Perrier-Jouët vineyards boast both Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The latter – which owes its name to the white down found beneath its leaves – is another black grape with white juice. Particularly fine, it provides structure while still allowing the character of Chardonnay to dominate the blends. To provide the balance of its grape requirements, Perrier-Jouët has been working in partnership with other growers for many generations, selecting their grapes according to its own strict criteria.
Just as a jeweller cuts and polishes a gemstone, Perrier-Jouët highlights the exceptional nature of its soil in the production of its Champagne, and in particular during the blending of the base wines which is the decisive step in a process handed down over the centuries by only seven cellar masters. One of the characteristics of the Perrier-Jouët house style is the art of blending without any initial pre-mixing. “I throw myself fully into any blending project all at once, as in a first draft made by an artist, in which intuition, sensitivity and know-how come together, without anyone being able to say exactly how,” explains Hervé Deschamps, cellar master since 1993. Like his predecessors, he conceives each cuvée as a unique work of art. Then, in the silence of the cellars, time allows the Perrier-Jouët style to emerge.
As the heir to an exceptional legacy, the cellar master works like a craftsman. With a precise plot-by-plot approach, the wine from each plot is made separately so that each can be tasted and experienced individually before choosing which ones will be used in each cuvée. It is also his responsibility to judge when an exceptional year should be used to create a vintage wine. Hervé Deschamps excels in this art and Perrier-Jouët regularly submits its vintage releases to the judgement of the world’s greatest wine experts. Thus it was in 2010, during just such an historic tasting, that one of Perrier-Jouët’s marvels was revealed to the world: its 1825 vintage, the oldest example still existing in the Champagne region.
As early as 1811, thanks to a solid instinct when it came to ennobling Chardonnay, Pierre-Nicolas Perrier laid down the basis for the house’s unique, floral style. In 1846, he began to entrust the secrets of his blends to his cellar book. All of his successors have done so too, thus adding their experiences to a tradition destined to providing wines with a constant Perrier-Jouët style, expressed in two collections: the non vintage and the Belle Epoque cuvées.
Champagne Pol Roger
When Pol died of pneumonia in 1899, his two sons were ready to take over from him. Maurice and Georges Roger inherited the business from their father, having worked alongside him since the age of 18. The two brothers' determination enabled the firm to overcome a catastrophe, when in February, 1900, the cellars and buildings collapsed. Five hundred casks and one and a half million bottles were lost.
In that same year, they obtained the right to change their family name to "Pol-Roger", as a tribute to their father. Maurice and Georges proved to be very successful. Maurice was the voice of the firm, taking care of its public relations, sales and marketing. Georges was the nose, sometimes described as the taster-in-chief, looking after the making of the Champagne. Georges was also in charge of the financial management. Exports progressed; many crowned heads became customers of the brand and top restaurants on the Champs-Élysées were serving Pol Roger, but the First World War was to bring this expansion to a halt.
Jacques, Maurice's son, came on board in 1927, heralding the arrival of a third generation in the firm. The roller coaster of Pol Roger’s fortunes continued with the financial crash of 1929, which rendered the economic situation especially difficult for the Champenoise. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Germans occupied France during the Second World War and the Wehrmacht took control of the production and purchasing of Champagne.
In the ‘40s, Odette Pol-Roger became close friends with Winston Churchill. The British statesman was an unwavering client of Maison Pol Roger, declaring it to be "The most delightful address in the world". It wasn’t until 1955 that a general improvement in sales could be felt. The range of wines was enlarged and this gave an additional impetus to the development of Pol Roger's fame. In 1961, a vintage rosé was launched. A few years later, a special wine was launched in honour of the house’s best-known customer. Cuvée Winston Churchill was born in 1975. Over the last forty years, the company has continued to develop and prosper, and by 1999 its vineyard holdings had reached 201 acres.
Champagne Veuve Doussot
The Joly family favours a reasoned and sustainable approach to viticulture, not totally organic but respecting the balance and traditions of the vineyard and keeping vine treatments to an absolute minimum. At Veuve Doussot, they strive to maintain their heritage with the highest quality wines that they can produce.
Cultivating, picking, vinifying, blending: each step is done with the same passion, making each cuvée truly special. Every glass of Veuve Doussot Champagne generously rewards the patience and dedication needed to create a wines of such excellence.
The name Bernadotte was given to this property in honour of Marshal Bernadotte, appointed Sovereign Prince by Napoleon I and plebiscited in 1818 by the Swedish people to succeed their King Charles XIII, who died without an heir. The château is a stunning residence in the style of the Restoration, built in 1860 and renovated in 1989 by the previous owner Curt Eklund, a Swedish industrialist.
In 1998, May-Eliane de Lencquesaing and her team made important investments not only in the château, vat room and cellars but also in the vineyard. A study was made of the soil, vine-stock was replaced, and parcels of vines were replanted. New buildings for storage were built and the property was fully equipped with all the facilities necessary for the production of a great wine. The vineyard today is spread over 35 hectares, grouped together around the Château. The soils are mainly gravelly, sandy and naturally well drained, with an important quantity of clay to prevent the ravages of drought and to moderate water stress during the ripening period of the grapes.
In 2007, Château Bernadotte and Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande became the property of the Louis Roederer Champagne house, under the management of Frédéric Rouzaud, and the wines showed a marked improvement in style and quality. However, in December 2012, Château Bernadotte was sold once again, this time to the King Power Group of Hong Kong. The King Power Group has massive business holdings in a myriad of different industries, including real estate, food and beverages and retail.
The first owner of Branaire-Ducru was Jean-Baptiste Braneyre. As was the custom of the day in Bordeaux, he gave his name to the estate although Braneyre was later altered to Branaire. Braneyre bought the land of what is now Branaire-Ducru because of its terroir. He understood that Cabernet Sauvignon grew best on the deep, gravel soils of the Médoc. The so-called middle name was gained through marriage. Marie Braneyre married Pierre De Luc which gave us Branaire-Duluc. It took almost 200 years for the Ducru portion of the wine's name to make its way to the label. In 1875, with no direct descendants, Gustave Ducru, a more distant relative, took over the Médoc property and added his name to the label, which gave us Château Branaire-Ducru.
Patrick Maroteaux, the current owner, bought Branaire-Ducru in 1988 from the Tapie family who had owned it since 1919. Prior to his arrival at Branaire-Ducru, Patrick Maroteaux had no prior experience in the wine business. His background was first in banking, and next as the president of the massive sugar company, Eurosucre. Patrick Maroteaux also served as the President of the UGCB, Union of Grand Crus Bordeaux, and as the President of the Saint-Julien appellation. Since his purchase, he has focused much of his effort on performing extensive improvement work in the vineyards and in the cellars of Branaire-Ducru. He quickly began reducing the yields and also increased the size of the estate's vineyard holdings by 10 hectares. Patrick was particularly interested in modernising the wine making techniques and he was one of the first producers on the Left Bank to fill his tanks entirely by gravity starting with the 1991 vintage. At the time, this was done with the help of the young Philippe Dhalluin. Although he left Branaire-Ducru in 2004, to take over the same position as director of wine making at Château Mouton Rothschild, he was replaced by the young, talented, Jean Dominique Videau. All of the new, technical improvements at Branaire-Ducru quickly paid off for Patrick Maroteaux, as starting with the 2000 vintage Branaire-Ducru became one of the top Saint-Julien wines. Château Branaire-Ducru is a family business and Patrick's son, François Xavier Maroteaux, has joined the team and he will eventually take over the responsibility of managing the estate.
Branaire-Ducru's 60 hectares of vineyards rest on deep gravel soil with clay. The vineyard is planted with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. On average, the vines are around 35 years of age but the oldest vines are close to 90 years old. The vineyard is planted to a vine density ranging from 6,700 to 10,000 vines per hectare. The higher levels of vine density are for the newer plantings. All grapes are hand harvested.
At Château Branaire-Ducru, fermentation takes place in 28 temperature controlled, stainless steel tanks. These vats vary in size, ranging from as small as 30 hectolitres all the way up to 210 hectolitres. Each vat is sized for the needs of each specific vineyard parcel and the vats are filled using a gravity flow system. Alcoholic fermentation takes place at temperatures between 26 to 28 degrees Celsius. The average length of maceration lasts about 21 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in tank. The press wine is aged separately.
Château Branaire-Ducru is aged in 60 to 65% new, French oak barrels for between 16-20 months. The amount of new oak varies depending on the quality, character and style of the vintage. There is a second wine, Duluc De Branaire Ducru.
Château Calon Ségur
Historians date the origins of Calon back to the Gallo-Roman era. Its name is derived from the term “calones”, which were the small transport boats that travelled up and down the Gironde estuary. Wine growing at the estate can be traced back to the 12th century, but it was in the 18th century, at the time of Nicolas-Alexandre the Marquis de Ségur, who also owned Châteaux Latour, Lafite and Mouton, that the finest chapter of the property’s history was written. Calon thereafter was to be known as Calon Ségur.
The estate acquired the rank of Third Growth in the famous 1855 classification. From 1894 to 2012, Calon’s owners, the Gasqueton family, preserved the estate’s identity with sobriety and elegance. Today, Château Calon Ségur and Château Capbern Gasqueton, are owned by the Suravenir company, a subsidiary of the banking group Crédit Mutuel Arkéa headed by Jean-Pierre Denis. The insurance company joined forces with the Videlot group. Together, they are leading an extensive programme of renovation, which will at the same time carefully preserve the estate’s historic values. Château Calon Ségur’s wonderful heritage is in safe hands.
Fifty-five hectares (136 acres) at the time of the 1855 classification, fifty-five hectares today: the estate is a rare example of consistency of terroir over the centuries. The vineyard is made up of one single block adjacent to the village of Saint-Estèphe. Unique in the Médoc, it is completely surrounded by a stone wall. Inside, closest to the château, this “enclos” groups together the most famous plots of Calon. There are very few geological models that can be compared with the terroir of Calon Ségur. The vines delve down into a deep gravel layer that was deposited there by the river. This layer covers another that is predominantly clay. This combination of clay and gravel soils is one of the main reasons for the power and finesse displayed in the wines of Calon Ségur.
Calon Ségur, Cabernet Sauvignon. There is something within the shared initials that won’t deceive you. Cabernet Sauvignon is the backbone of Calon Ségur. This grape variety makes up over three-quarters of the blend, and in great years its proportion can be as high as 90%. No great wines can ever be made without constant and meticulous care of the vines. The soils are ploughed in the time-honoured tradition. From spring to autumn, vine canopy management tasks are done by large numbers of vineyard personnel. The crop is picked by hand at perfect ripeness. At Calon, finesse is a priority.
On this superb Saint-Estèphe terroir, power is a given. There’s no need to add any more. The cellarmaster’s job is to preserve the softness in the tannins, the freshness of flavour and the natural character in the aromas. In short, he must respect the raw material picked from the vines. The wine is aged in new oak barrels for 18 to 20 months. Fining with natural egg whites was reintroduced a few years ago. The Grand Vin of Calon Ségur is the mirror image of its terroir: rare, authentic, moving. With great ease, it reveals both lovely softness and amazing intensity. All of the magic of Calon is in this balance.
All of the original buildings are still in use, although they have been significantly modernised. The old winery is now fitted with state-of-the-art wine making equipment, allowing the Canet team to blend traditional savoir-faire with modern day techniques. The stables are now used as an ageing cellar where the wines quietly mature until ready to be bottled and enjoyed. The manor house is still a family home, and the original vignerons' lodgings have been converted into charming guest cottages should you wish to stay for a holiday rather than just pop in for a tasting and a quick wander around. Château Canet is certainly perfectly located for a break: it is only about 15 minutes away from the UNESCO world heritage sites of the Cité de Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi, and it is surrounded by the "Pays Cathare" with its rich medieval history.
The wines of Château Canet are crafted under the careful guidance of owner Floris Lemstra and oenologist Nathalie Leclercq. They take exceptional care to produce wines that perfectly balance the characters of top quality, ripe fruit with the flavours of the Minervois terroir. As they age, the Château Canet wines develop even greater complexity making it very difficult to put your glass down.
The vineyards of Château Canet are located in the middle of the Balcons de L’Aude in the Minervois region, on clay and limestone soil. The vines benefit from warm, Mediterranean weather and from the interesting climatic conditions caused by the local winds; the cool, northerly Atlantic wind called the Cers and the warm Vent Marin which blows in from the coast. The principal grape variety, covering over half of the vineyard area, is Syrah (Shiraz). 4.5 hectares of the more mineral-rich soils are planted with Chardonnay. The remaining vineyards are planted with Grenache, Merlot, and the regional varieties Marsanne and Bourboulenc which form the basis of Château Canet’s white Minervois.
80% of the domaine falls under the Minervois appellation of the Languedoc-Roussillon, and the remaining vineyards are classified as Vin de Pays d’Oc. The vineyards are managed according to the guidelines of sustainable viticulture, following the brief of Terra Vitis. This helps them to grow great grapes while respecting the environment and maintaining the long term health and sustainability of their vineyards and the surrounding agricultural land.
The family tree of the present von Neippergs dates back to Adam-Adalbert von Neipperg's first marriage to Countess Paula de Treviso in the late eighteenth century. It was during this troubled time that the von Neipperg holdings were annexed by the Duke of Württemberg who had been proclaimed king. The family managed to hold on to some of its land and, at this juncture, the von Neippergs devoted most of their energy to winegrowing while continuing to be involved in their country's political affairs.
What made the family decide to buy vineyards in France? Count Joseph-Hubert von Neipperg acquired four wine estates in Saint-Émilion: Canon-La-Gaffelière, La Mondotte, Clos De l'Oratoire, and Château Peyreau in 1971. There were several reasons for these purchases by someone who already owned vineyards in Germany. First and foremost, they were seen as a sound investment as Bordeaux wine has long been famous around the world. Joseph-Hubert von Neipperg set his sights on Saint-Émilion as he was attracted by the number of family-owned properties there. As the father of eight children, he was very concerned about passing on a legacy to the next generation and making sure the vineyards remained in the family. Initially the Saint-Émilion vineyards were not directly managed by the von Neippergs. For ten years, Monsieur Boutet, a chartered surveyor specialising in vineyard terroir, looked after the estates.
In 1983, Joseph-Hubert asked one of his children to take charge of Canon-La-Gaffelière. Aged 26, Stephan had a solid background in finance, management, and agronomy thanks to his education not only in Germany, but also in Paris and Montpellier. The time had come for this well-read young man, passionately interested in history and classical music, to focus his energies on his family's outstanding terroir in Bordeaux.
Stephan von Neipperg spent the next two years becoming intimately acquainted with the estate. He discovered the countless details involved in making wine, "a unique and emotional product". He continues to perfect his mastery of the many facets of winemaking, from the vineyard to the cellar, as well as ageing in barrel and in bottle, and international sales and marketing. Unlike other agricultural products, Stephan von Neipperg believes that "added value in wine is always rewarded". He therefore decided to take a path from which he has never since deviated: to make the most of his terroir and to adopt a long-term approach.
Stephan was officially named estate manager and proceeded to make in-depth changes at Canon-La-Gaffelière. He started by making a complete analysis of data concerning his vineyard and then drew logical conclusions of what needed doing. His collaboration at a later date with Stéphane Derenoncourt also contributed to Canon-La-Gaffelière's reputation around the world. Stephan's personality and entrepreneurial spirit quickly left their mark. He went on to acquire other vineyards, succeeding in making the most of their specific terroirs as well. His passion for winegrowing has also extended beyond Saint-Émilion into Bulgaria.
Château Canon La Gaffelière is one of the oldest estates in Saint-Émilion and it has had a fine reputation for over 150 years. In the 19th century, the estate was called La Gaffelière-Boitard (or Canon-Boitard), after its owner, Monsieur Boitard de la Poterie. It was later purchased by Doctor Peyraud, but there are few documents to describe his time as owner. The estate was acquired by Pierre Meyrat, the Mayor of Saint-Émilion, in 1953. After his death 1969, the château was sold once again and was finally acquired by the von Neipperg family in 1971.
Château Canon-La-Gaffelière is located on the outskirts of the medieval town of Saint-Émilion, at the southern foot of the slope. The 19.5 hectare vineyard has an outstanding yet complex terroir of clay-limestone and clay-sand soil. The topsoil is primarily sandy, increasingly so as one moves away from the slope.
The average amount of Merlot planted on Saint-Émilion estates is approximately 70% where it contributes roundness and opulence. The unusual proportion of grape varieties (55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) planted at Canon-La-Gaffelière is dictated by the soils. The high percentage of Cabernet Franc is unquestionably well-adapted to the estate's warm soil. This variety accounts for an exquisite bouquet with spicy, floral overtones, as well as power and aromatic complexity. The old Cabernet Franc vines do especially well on soil with a high clay content. Seeing as the Cabernets are usually late-ripening, they take full advantage of the estate's warm soil and they mature much earlier here than in most other parts of the appellation.
The vines, averaging 45 years old, are deeply rooted in the soil and absorb all of the goodness in the terroir. They are mostly replaced individually rather than plot by plot to maintain the average age. The last major replanting dates back to 1986. Mass selection is practised, especially useful in perpetuating the precious old Cabernet Franc vines. It not only maintains the vineyard's genetic heritage, but also its unique balance.
Remarkably well-structured, always elegant, and unfailingly long on the palate, Château Canon-La-Gaffelière eloquently illustrates Stephan von Neipperg's philosophy and dedication.
Château Caronne Sainte Gemme
Caronne Ste Gemme has a long history and is first mentioned in local records as long ago as 1648. These records indicate that the land was let out to a farmer by its landlord, Denis De Mullet, in exchange for some of the wine produced. The modern history of Caronne Ste Gemme, however, begins in 1900 when the estate was purchased Emile and Eugène Borie. Eugène's descendants went on to own Château Batailley and then Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, whereas Emile's continued managing Caronne Ste Gemme, and still do so today. In recent years the estate has been managed by Emile's grandson Jean Nony, and by his nephew François. In 1999 François and his brother took over the running in its entirety, with the help of cellarmaster Bruno Guyomar and oenologist Olivier Dauga.
Château Cissac is located right in the heart of the Médoc region. Its exceptional terroir adjoins that of the prestigious Saint-Estèphe and Pauillac appellations, extending over an area of around a hundred hectares. The soil is mainly sandy gravel on top of clay and limestone, and the vineyards occupy a single tract of land which is sheltered by the village of Cissac and by the forests which surround it. In keeping with Médoc tradition, the vineyards are mainly planted with Cabernet Sauvignon. This variety is ideally suited to the type of terroir in Cissac, where its strength and aromas can realise their full potential. Blended with elegant Merlot and spicy Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon produces wines that are particularly complex and expressive.
Respecting the demands of the climate, the particularities of the terroir, the nature of the grape varieties and wine making traditions: these are the core principles which govern the running of the estate. But in order to fully benefit from the intrinsic qualities of its vineyards, and to enable its wines to reveal their maximum intensity, Château Cissac is continually striving to improve the quality of its winemaking process. Modernisation has included improving the biodiversity of the soil, introducing a policy of systematically renewing vine stocks, maintaining and renewing barrels, and a sustainable optimisation of age-old winemaking techniques.
First and foremost, wine is an expression of pleasure. It must have its own personality and character which reflects the history of its terroir and the expertise of the vigneron. The wines of Château Cissac are superior, classic wines, which combine the strength of the Médoc with the aromatic elegance of the greatest of the Bordeaux wines.
All of the Clamens wines are predominantly made from a grape unique to Fronton: Négrette. By pairing it with Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, the chateau creates original and complex wines. They emanate from very diverse soils that provide a strong, powerful character - both the old river bed of the Tarn and Garonne lie beneath the vineyards. Today, Château Clamens is the only winery in Fronton, which covers three municipalities and two départements.
The first mention of the estate in commune records dates back to 1868, and it was passed down through the generations of the Clamens family. The Bégué family, related by marriage, has cared for the domaine for four generations and today, youngest son Jean-Michel orchestrates operations. This lauded winemaker knows better than most the strengths and the peculiarities of the Clamens estate. Each vintage he demonstrates his talent for selecting the best parcels of grapes and for elevating them into wines of great typicity and delight, neither fining or filtering them prior to bottling. In 2012, Jean-Michel Bégué sold the Clamens estate to Stefan Heppelmann, a German entrepreneur who is passionate about wine. Jean-Michel has remained in situ as winemaker with the full backing and financial support of the new owner, allowing him the freedom to create ever more sublime wines.
One of the secrets of Jean Michel's success is Négrette, a grape variety found nowhere else in the world. Cultivated locally for over 1000 years, this inimitable grape was cause for Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu to have their famous "wine tasting battles" during the siege of Montauban. Fine and delicate, Négrette develops subtle aromas of violet, red berries and liquorice. It comprises at least 50% of each of the Château Clamens blends and it is the basic structure around which the character of these astonishing wines is built.
Château Clerc Milon
In 1988, on Baron Philippe’s death, consolidation of the vineyard was well under way and Clerc Milon had regained its reputation among wine-lovers. However, the technical facilities were limited to a rudimentary vat house, the cellars were located some distance away in the town of Pauillac and the “château” was just a small village house. So it was only right that Baroness Philippine, continuing her father’s work, should include the modernisation of the estate in her ambitious plans for the development of the family company.
A new Clerc Milon thus arose in two stages, with the construction of an entirely gravity-fed vat room in 2007 and then, in 2011, a set of buildings with a surface area of nearly 3,600 square metres, comprising a half-underground barrel hall, a cellar and reception and tasting rooms. The two designers, the scenographer Richard Peduzzi and the architect Bernard Mazières, came up with a rectangular design in the form of a temple, encircled by a vast terrace giving onto the vines. The materials used – stone, glass and wood – echo the world of wine. The necessary energy is provided by 300 square metres of photovoltaic cells, while the same concern for the environment prevails in the vat room.
The new vat room was designed to suit the patchwork of parcels and to be as flexible as possible when the harvest is brought in. As at Mouton, the grapes are entirely hand-picked in 12-kilo open baskets. The decision when to pick depends entirely on the ripeness of the grapes, verified by successive tastings. That allows for extremely precise zoning and may entail up to three passes in a single parcel. After hand-sorting, the grapes are transferred to the vats in mobile bins. In the 40-vat winery, gravity feeding reduces the need for handling and pumping: this makes it easier to keep the grapes intact, thus retaining all their aroma and flavour.
Château Clerc Milon wines are aged for 16 to 18 months in oak barrels, 40% of them new. Humidity in the barrel hall is maintained at around 80% by ultrasound humidifiers and the temperature is maintained between 14 and 16°C. Racking is practised once, twice or three times during the maturing period: the clear wine is run off into another barrel to separate it from the lees that have collected at the bottom. The empty barrel is then cleaned and refilled. Traditional fining with egg-white is carried out at the end of the maturing process in order to refine the wine’s tannic structure and complete the clarification process before bottling.
With its high silhouette, proud façade and ipe wood cladding, Château Clerc Milon now forms an integral part of the Médoc landscape.
Respect for tradition, a feeling for aesthetic and technical innovation: true to these family values, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild has fully restored the legitimacy of Classified Growth status to a château that her father had already put back on the right track. Clerc Milon now has not only high-level technical facilities but also spectacular reception areas. Above all, it benefits from the expertise and commitment of all those who, having attended its rebirth, are now working to secure its reputation as a gem of Médoc winemaking and architecture. It is to those men and women that the task of writing the next page in its history will fall.
Château Clerc Milon now has 41 hectares (101 acres) of vines in the north-east of the Pauillac appellation, on the lovely Mousset crest overlooking the Gironde. The slight slope favours both natural drainage and exposure to sunlight, while the nearby river creates a microclimate that protects the vines from frost in spring, reduces the risk of hail and lowers the temperature in summer. The soil is made up of two-thirds deep sandy gravel over a clay-limestone base which outcrops in the eastern part of the estate.
The vineyard is planted with five grape varieties typical of the region: Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (37%), Cabernet Franc (10%), Petit Verdot (2%) and Carmenere (1%). The average age of the vines is 53 years, probably one of the highest in the Médoc. Mostly planted before the development of clonal selection, they represent an exceptionally rich genetic resource. The vine density is high, ranging between 8,500 and 10,000 vines per hectare depending on the parcel.
Environmentally-friendly, integrated vinegrowing techniques are employed, keeping the use of pesticides to a minimum. In the vineyard itself, the close monitoring and strict parcel selection are on a par with those practised at Mouton Rothschild.
A wine with considerable ageing potential, a particularly successful association of gravel and clay-limestone terroirs, of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, powerful, tannic, fruity and harmoniously full-bodied, Château Clerc Milon displays all of the typical elegance of the finest Pauillac wines.
Château Cos D'Estournel
To celebrate his distant conquests he had exotic pagodas erected above his cellar, organized spectacular festivities at Cos and presented the great and the good of the time with some precious bottles of Cos “Returned From India”. However, in 1852, overwhelmed with debts he had accumulated whilst extending and beautifying his estate, Louis was obliged to sell Cos to a London banker called Martyns. He allowed Louis to remain and live on the land he had so much loved, and he was to die there in 1853, two years before the supreme consecration of his work: the 1855 classification placing Cos D’Estournel at the head of the Saint-Estèphes.
In 1869, Martyns sold Cos D’Estournel to the Errazu, an aristocratic Basque family, who resold it to the Hostein brothers in 1889. In 1917, Cos D’Estournel was purchased by Fernand Ginestet, one of the leading Bordeaux wine merchants. His grandsons Jean-Marie, Yves and Bruno Prats subsequently inherited the château.
Château Cos D’Estournel has belonged to Michel Reybier since 2000. Mr Reybier’s objective has been to uphold the château’s high standards and to constantly strive for excellence, while continuing the avant-garde style initiated by Louis Gaspard D’Estournel.
In the old Gascon language, the word “Cos” means “The Hill of Pebbles”. Not unexpectedly, the hill of Cos, on the banks of the Gironde, is an impressive accumulation of Quaternary gravel wrested from the distant mountains of the Massif Central and the Pyrenees, laid on Saint-Estèphe’s limestone bed when the primeval river receded. Shaped into well drained slopes by erosion, these exceptionally deep layers of gravel are a true geological curiosity and also one of the world’s most precious terroirs, for it forces the old vines to push their roots deep into the arid soil. These extended roots slow down the flow of sap, concentrating the juice and giving the wine of Cos its unique character.
Between Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe, separated from Château Lafite by a stream called La Jalle du Breuil (The Breuil Brook), the hill of Cos dominates the Gironde at a height of almost 65 feet. Bordered to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the east by the Gironde, the vineyards of Cos D’Estournel benefit from a distinct micro-climate that acts like a temperature regulator, avoiding any extremes of temperature. The vineyards are spread around the château and cover approximately 91 hectares.
The Cabernet Sauvignon vines (60% of plantings) find the soil of their choice in the thin layers of gravely soil situated on the top and on the southern slopes of the hill. Merlot, on the other hand (40% of the plantings) excels on the eastern slopes and on the slopes where the limestone bedrock of Saint- Estèphe has been forced up to the surface. The final percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the wine varies from one vintage to another, according to the weather pattern of the year in question.
The vines are planted extremely densely at 8,000 to 10,000 vines per hectare, causing the vines to burrow their roots down deep into the poor soil as they compete for nutrients and naturally limiting the yields of grapes. The concentration of flavours that result from this struggle is paired with a concentration resulting from the high average age of the vines - around 35 years. Only the wines from vines over 20 years old will be used for the Château Cos D’Estournel grand vin. Each vine grower is responsible for some 45,000 vines which are all trained, pruned and maintained by hand. The grapes are harvested manually, too, and after being collected in special wooden baskets they are then strictly sorted.
Château De La Gardine
The Gardine bottle, both original and elegant, is the result of a happy accident. When he first began to expand his cellar, Gaston Brunel found an old, mouth-blown glass bottle while digging in the ground. He loved it and decided to use a similar shape for all his wine. Initially, he had to go all the way to Italy to find a glass supplier able to copy its quirky shape, but since 1964 all of the Brunel family's wines have been bottled in the unique La Gardine shaped-bottle.
Château De La Presle
The estate's forty hectares of vineyards in the Touraine appellation are planted on the clay and sandy soils of the Oisly plateau where they benefit from the influence of the Loire to the north and the Cher to the south.
The vineyards of Château De La Presle are tended in as natural a manner as possible, allowing the Meurgey-Penet family to produce wines of fantastic purity of flavour that could happily grace any table on any occasion.
Over the next two hundred years, ownership of both Dereszla and of Hungary passed from Hungarian hands to Turkish, Austrian and then Transylvanian before returning to Hungarian control under the Rákóczi family. After a series of inheritances and the War of Independence, the newest and uppermost part of the present-day cellar ended up as the property of a Jewish merchant family from the early 19th century until it was nationalised after the Holocaust. During Hungary’s subsequent Communist regime, Dereszla was owned by the Tokaj Wine Co-operative that gathered grapes and matured wines from all over the Tokaj wine region. In the post-Communist 1990s, a wave of privatisation began and it became the property of CANA, the biggest French agricultural co-operative society.
In 2000, following several years of neglect, the D’Aulan family from Champagne realised that this estate, with its rich heritage, was well worth renovating. After renewing the equipment and introducing the latest technology, they linked the estate's five separate cellars to form one larger, more practical space 1100 metres in length.
The present Dereszla winery was completed in 2007, and it includes a new processing plant, a logistics centre and an administration unit. These new buildings follow the style of the estate's historical pressing house and cellar entrance. Since 2008, modernisation has continued at Dereszla thanks to funding from the EMVA - a joint project between the European Union and Hungary.
The estate owns 27 hectares of vineyards spread across the designated “Grand Cru” area, and the large diversity of soils throughout these holdings is a crucial factor in the complexity of their wines. In fact, there are 15 distinct terroirs at Dereszla, each adding to the complexity of the resulting wines which range from dry to luscious and sweet. The base wines are mainly based on the Furmint grape variety, unique to the region, with Muskotaly also adding complexity to the late harvest and Aszú wines.
Tokaj (formerly known as Tokaj-Hegyalja) has long been Hungary’s most famous and respected wine region, thanks mostly to its nectar-like, botrytised Tokaji dessert wines. The region and its wine are held in such esteem in Hungary that the Hungarian national anthem thanks God that Tokaj szőlővesszein nektárt csepegtettél ("into the vineyards of Tokaj you dripped sweet nectar"). Yes, these wines really are that good.
Château Du Barry
The estate of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou extends over some 245 hectares, 100 of which are in vine, with almost 3 hectares of parkland and almost 140 hectares of pasture, marshes and forests.
Château Famaey's vineyards are spread across the three terraces of the Lot valley, with grapes from the first terrace used to make an easier drinking range of wines and grapes from the second and third terraces reserved for their prestigious Cahors appellation wines. Each cuvée at Château Famaey is made individually, respecting the origin of the grapes and the age of the vines - anything from 35 to 65 years old. These are wines of tradition, quality and style that demonstrate what a truly wonderful grape variety Malbec can be in the right hands. This area is the true home of the grape variety and certainly the wines of the third terrace can be quite magnificent.
Ongoing care and respect for nature are key to the cultivation techniques used at Château Famaey, and the yields are very carefully controlled in order to produce rich, honest and authentic wines. This dynamic, family run business has earned the reputation of producing a modern style of Cahors, creating fine wines that highlight the fruit and structure of the Malbec grape.
Today, Château-Fuissé comprises of 33 hectares of vineyards, 23 of which are in Pouilly-Fuissé and which are spread across 104 different plots. Having this diverse selection of terroirs to draw upon enables the Vincents to craft wines of far greater complexity than many other producers. The temperate climate and the limestone and clay soils of the Mâconnais are ideally suited to Chardonnay, allowing it to express a lovely balance of ripeness, concentration and minerality. The best of traditional and modern winemaking practices are allied with a judicious use of oak barrels to produce textbook white Burgundy that speaks loudest of its terroir not its winemaker. These are wines that deserve their place in any cellar.
Since 1985, the Vincent family has offered an additional, eponymous range of wines, utilising carefully selected fruit from vineyards largely owned by other members of the family rather than by the Château-Fuissé estate. Needless to say, they are all vinified with the same passion and expertise and they supply plenty of bang for the buck.
During the war, in 1942, Henri Martin purchased 6 hectares of vines in the Saint-Julien appellation. The vines were previously the property of Château Beychevelle and he made the purchase on the advice of his friend, Jean-Charles Cazes, the father of Jean Michel Cazes of Château Lynch Bages. That early purchase was gradually expanded and eventually they were able to accumulate the 50 hectares of vineyards that today makes up Château Gloria. Although unclassified itself, it is the only estate of its kind having been put together piece-by-piece over a number of years through the exclusive purchase of vineyard plots classiﬁed as grands crus in 1855 from estates of such calibre as Gruaud-Larose, Talbot, Lagrange and Léoville-Barton.
Château Gloria's vineyards are spread across three areas, in the middle of Beychevelle and then in the west and the north of the appellation (bordering Pauillac) on soil made up of Gunzian gravel covering a layer of clay and sand. They are planted to 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc and the average age of the vines is 40 years.
Vinification takes place in temperature controlled, stainless steel vats and malolactic fermentation takes place in barrel. Château Gloria is aged in 40% new French oak barrels for 14 months. On average, the production is close to 20,000 cases per year and there is also a second wine, Peymartin. Henri died in 2001, and today Gloria is managed by his son-in-law Jean Louis Triaud who is also responsible for managing its sister estate, Château Saint-Pierre.
Château Grand-Puy Ducasse
The real founder of the estate was Pierre Ducasse, a lawyer by profession but who was passionate about vine-growing. He bought land within three parishes: Pauillac, Saint-Lambert and Saint-Sauveur; as well as the domains of three lords: Lafite, Latour and Beychevelle.
Additional purchases and swaps enabled him to extend his estates up to his death in 1797. His son inherited the 60-hectare estate, then called Ducasse-Grand-Puy-Artigues-Arnaud, of which two-thirds were planted with vines. Around 1820, he had the existing château built on the site of his ancestors' house, facing the Gironde estuary. It was under his son-in-law’s management, Adrien Chauvet, that the estate was classified in 1855, under the name of Artigues Arnaud. The company called Grand-Puy Ducasse was then founded in 1932.
In 1971 a new group of shareholders took on the somewhat dormant estate, and went on to restructure and enlarge the vineyard’s holding. As from 1980, the winery was equipped with a new vatting house, including sorting tables and other facilities for handling the harvest. In 1991, the sorting tables were moved into the vineyards, in order to improve the quality of hand-picking. In 2004, CA Grands Crus, a subsidiary of the Groupe Crédit Agricole, acquired Château Grand-Puy Ducasse and an improvement plan was put together for the entire estate. Today the estate is supervised by Anne Le Naour, the Technical Director, and by the consultant oenologist, Hubert de Bouärd.
The vineyards cover some 40 hectares and they are divided between three main plots which lie on sandy Garonne gravel within the Pauillac appellation. The vineyards border those of Mouton, Lafite and Pontet-Canet to the North; in the centre they cover part of the Bourdieu of Grand Puy, and, at their southern extremity, they extend onto the Saint-Lambert plateau. With an average age of 25 years, 62% of the vines are Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot. Average yields are 40 hectolitres per hectare.
With this marriage in the 19th century, the property acquired the name Lacoste. Still, the Saint-Guirons name remained as a reminder of the connection between the two families and of the property's heritage, so for a time the wines were labelled Saint Guirons-Lacoste. François Lacoste and Marie-Jeanne de Saint Guirons had three children, and after the couple's death their son Pierre-Frédéric Lacoste inherited the property in 1844.
Pierre-Frédéric Lacoste was an enterprising man, deeply committed to his estate. Like François-Xavier Borie in the following century, Lacoste focussed on quality and on improving the wine's reputation. In 1855 he rebuilt the château, and that same year Grand-Puy-Lacoste's status was officially recognised by its inclusion in the official listing of Bordeaux's Great Classified Growths.
Since the end of the 19th century, the Borie name has long been associated with skilled winemaking of the highest quality thanks to Eugène and Emile Borie, the family's founders. The story begins in the centre of France, in the Limousin region. Eugène Borie and his brother Emile were born in the Correze town of Meymac. At the end of the 19th century, the region was essentially rural and lacked a well-developed economy. Ambitious and hard-working, Eugène and Emile saw greater opportunities in Bordeaux. There they created a négociant firm, which their wives managed from Meymac, whilst they travelled to find and develop their markets.
In 1886, they rented cellars in Pauillac and began specialising in shipping wine to Normandy, northern France and especially to Belgium, while other Bordeaux négociants concentrated on the British market. The brothers' commercial acumen was rewarded as their reputation and prosperity grew.
In 1901, in an effort to guarantee higher quality, Eugène and Emile decided to build their own cellars and age their wines themselves. During this time they also bought Château Saint-Gemme, a Cru Bourgeois in Saint-Laurent, just south west of Saint-Julien. With this step the two brothers became winemakers in the Médoc, the terroir at the heart of the family business.
Eugène Borie and his wife Annette had four children: Eugénie, Thérèse, Francis and Marcel. When Eugène died in 1911, his eldest son Francis, who had studied law in Bordeaux, went to work with his uncle Emile. He was later joined by his brother Marcel, and together they created the firm of Borie Frères. The two brothers enlisted at the start of the First World War and suspended their business activities. Upon their return from the front, Francis and Marcel further committed to winemaking with the purchase of Château Batailley, a classified fifth growth in Pauillac.
On June 8, 1920, Francis married Marguerite Borderie, from another family of Correzien négociants. She owned Château Bel-Air in Quinsac, northeast of Bordeaux, and together they had two children, Jean-Eugène and Françoise.
Now firmly anchored in the world of Médoc winemaking, Borie Frères prospered. In 1939, Francis and Marcel decided to spilt the business in two: each brother formed his own company and each took one half of Château Batailley. Francis' half became Château Haut-Batailley, which today belongs to his daughter Françoise Des Brest Borie and is managed by Domaines François-Xavier Borie. Two years later, Francis bought Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, a second growth in the 1855 classification. He fell in love with the property, deciding to live there and give it his complete attention.
Ducru-Beaucaillou fully benefitted from Francis Borie's commitment to excellence and his ability to achieve it. His son Jean-Eugène worked at his side with an equal passion, and took over the estate after Francis' death in 1953. In 1950, Jean-Eugène Borie married Monique Rochette and had three children: Sabine, François-Xavier and Bruno.
The family's history took a decisive turn in 1978 when the owner of Grand-Puy-Lacoste "chose” Jean-Eugène to buy the property. After acquiring the estate he turned to his son François-Xavier to manage it; his challenge was to awaken this sleeping beauty.
From the time of their marriage in 1979, François-Xavier and Marie-Hélène Borie decided to live in the château. Together, they undertook the major work of renovating the production buildings as well as the residence, seeking to give full expression to their vision of quality and their approach to life on this remarkable terroir. François-Xavier personally supervised the renovation of the operational side of the property. Of the vineyard's original 55 hectares only 30 remained, the château was in poor condition and the winemaking buildings required renovation. Major investments were quickly made: in 1979 a new vat house with temperature-controlled tanks was built, and just four years later Grand-Puy-Lacoste achieved its first great success with the 1982 vintage, whose perfection symbolised the property's rebirth. He restored the vineyard by replacing vines where necessary, improved the drainage system, instituted new methods of canopy management, etc. Further investments renewed the estate's buildings: the vinification cellar was renovated in 1995 and a new barrel cellar was created in 2003. In 2006 other improvements were made, such as installing a vibrating table equipped with the latest technology for sorting harvested grapes. In 2008, air conditioning was installed throughout the buildings.
The first residence at Grand-Puy was built in 1737. In 1855 Pierre-Frédéric Lacoste gave the château its definitive appearance. Marie-Hélène turned to the chateau's renovation: it had been practically uninhabited since the 1930s and she gave the residence its elegant and welcoming style. Outbuildings were also completely renovated to provide accommodation for the grape-pickers during harvest time. The couple's love of nature also led them to develop the parks and woodlands around the château, creating a serene and harmonious environment.
The château's classic French architecture combines pale Bordeaux limestone with the intense grey of its slate roofing. Instead of the tile commonly used for buildings of lesser character, the Lacoste family chose the noblest of materials, slate from the area around Tours. The façade is restrained, almost austere, but an elegant and stylish asymmetry is introduced on the right by a single square tower whose roof displays a Renaissance influence. This tower contains the chapel, where the latest generation of Borie children were baptised.
Over time, the château became a true family home, with its traditions and celebrations, and ceremonies in its chapel. Emeline, Laurence and Pierre-Antoine were born here, grew up at the property, attended school in Pauillac, and participated in the village's daily life. As adults, when studies and careers carried them far from home, they were always delighted to return to Grand-Puy-Lacoste. Today, François-Xavier and Marie-Hélène's eldest daughter Emeline is in charge of communication and public relations at Grand-Puy-Lacoste. She travelled widely as a student and received valuable international experience during two years with an importer of wines in Vietnam.
So far three generations of Bories have shared their destiny with that of Grand-Puy-Lacoste. With a passion for Médoc winemaking spanning 100 years, the family has developed an ancestral attachment to fundamental values like humility in the face of nature, a search for harmony in the smallest details, a sense of sharing, and a generous hospitality. This has been a long-term project using technical innovation to improve quality and develop a more refined expression of terroir with each passing vintage. Today, Grand-Puy-Lacoste does not look to increase its production in terms of quantity but more importantly to increase the quality of its production, with greater control, precision, and consistency of style from one vintage to the next.
Marc Darroze qualified as an oenologist in 1992, and went on to gain winemaking experience in California, in Tokaj and in the Médoc. He then joined his father, Francis, to further develop their extraordinary collection of Bas Armagnacs. In 2007, Marc decided to diversify his activity and acquired the Haut-Peyrous estate in Graves, the most southerly appellation of the Bordeaux winegrowing region.
His aim is to produce wines with lots of personality, by making the most of the quality of the terroir on his estate. That’s why Marc has taken steps to obtain certification of his estate as an organic wine producer. Since June 2008, all work and treatments used on the estate have been in accordance with organic production criteria. From 2012, all Château Haut-Peyrous wines will carry the AB (Agriculture Biologique) badge of organic certification.
The soil is worked mechanically, and the grass growing between the rows enables humus to develop and encourages intense microbial activity in the soils. Any possible deficiencies in the soil are rectified gently and naturally, the vines are treated with products authorised by organic farming criteria.
Château Ksara is not only Lebanon’s oldest winery, it is also one of Lebanon’s oldest and most successful businesses. Château Ksara’s 150 years of uninterrupted wine production, uniterrupted even through times of violent change and upheaval, is a truly remarkable achievement. It is also a source of immense national pride, for the Ksara name and the wine are woven deeply into Lebanon’s modern heritage.
Château La Bourrée
Château La Varière
Jacques' winemaking philosophy is to put as much care and attention as possible into both the vine growing process and into the vinification of his grapes, as without top quality grapes he cannot make top quality wine. He recognises that the role of the terroir of his vineyards is essential and he says, "We are not magicians. You can be the best vine-grower and winemaker, but without good terroir you will never make a great wine".
His skilful and stylish winemaking was recognised in 2003, when Jacques was nominated for the prestigious French Winemaker of the Year award at the London International Wine and Spirit competition.
Due to Jean-Dominique's expertise and to the exceptional quality of his eaux-de-vie, the Armagnacs of the Château Laballe soon became widely known and appreciated; to such an extent that, in 1829, Jean-Dominique exported 200 barrels of Armagnac to New York. From then on, his passion was passed on from father to son: Jean-Dominique, Alexandre, Julien, Fernand, Robert, Noel, and Christian maintained the family’s knowledge and experience over the years and centuries, each of them bringing his personal touch to the business.
The biggest changes were introduced by Noël Laudet in the 1970s. Formerly steward of Château Beychevelle in Bordeaux, he brought a new dimension to the Laballe estate: dry white wine. With the skills he had gleaned in Bordeaux, he diversified production away from solely Armagnac and began making dry white wines to the same high standard of those he had encountered at his previous château.
Today, Cyril Laudet is the 8th generation of his family to run Château Laballe, and he has taken up the reins along with his wife Julie. Since they took over the property, Cyril and Julie have extended the range and now offer dry and sweet white wines, rosé wines and red wines with three different appellations. Their ambition is to honour the Laudet family's legacy whilst imparting their own contemporary influence and a desire to excel upon the estate, the Armagnacs, and the wines of Laballe.
The vineyards are situated on a unique parcel of land called Sables Fauves (tawny sands), entirely owned by Château Laballe. These soils are well known for producing high quality brandies in the Bas-Armagnac region, but the Laballe estate was the first to produce wine here. The gentle slopes of silt, clay and sediment that form the Sables Fauves also contain a high proportion of iron oxide that provides a decisive mineral freshness. The Laudets utilise reasoned viticulture, balancing their respect for the environment with the climatic constraints of the region. The soils are worked regularly to extract the most of their character and to give an identity to the wines.
Today the estate is about 17 hectares in size, but to expand the estate's portfolio Cyril Laudet also works closely with the neighbouring vineyards. He monitors and manages the winemaking as meticulously as he does in his own cellar. Harvesting is done at night or early in the morning, especially for the white grape varieties so that they retain all of the freshness that can be tasted in the wines. Each grape variety is vinified separately and each is chosen for a blend according to its specific aromas and characteristics.
Wines made from vineyards growing in the thin strip of Sables Fauves are entitled to use either the Terroirs Landais appellation or that of Côtes de Gascogne, the wider appellation of the southwest of France which covers a far wider area. Laballe produces a range of wines in both of these appellations as well as in nearby Tursan.
Gorsse De Gorsse was the smallest of the three pieces of land and it was the part of the property where the original château was located, situated on the gravelly soils of Margaux's highest knolls and surrounded by the most famous vineyards of the village. Hubert Perrodo purchased Gorsse De Gorsse in 2002, although he was only able to buy the the 17th century château and a small amount of land as the vineyards had been sold to Château Margaux.
Labégorce is the heart of the estate and the largest of the three sections of the original property. In its centre stands an elegant, Restoration-era, neo-classical mansion, the work of the architect Corcelles. When it was built the owner was Elisabeth Weltener, the widow of Jean Marcellin Bernard. It later passed into the hands of M. Capelle in 1832 and then to Fortuné Beaucourt in 1865. The vineyard continued to be lovingly tended and its wine earned a well-deserved reputation for being of the highest quality. The new owner of the estate had a strong character: he was twice mayor of Margaux and he kept a close watch on the village's interests. He undertook a great deal of renovation work on the château, managed by the architect Georges Minvielle. The estate was sold to the Rooryck family in 1918, then to the Condom family in 1965, before finally being purchased by Hubert Perrodo 1989.
The third part of the Labégorce estate was sold in August 1795 to the Benoist family, whose descendants, the engineer Gustave Zédé, Director of Ship Building and designer of the first French submarine (the Gymnote in 1888); and his brother, Vice Admiral Emile Zédé, added their illustrious name to the label. It then passed into the hands of the Bayers, and in 1961, to Jean Battesti, who replanted a part of the vineyard and strove to produce high quality wine. In 1979, Battesti ceded his property to the G.F.A. (Agricultural Land Group) of Château Labégorce Zédé. Its manager, Luc Thienpont, was a credit to the Margaux appellation and achieved recognition among the greatest connoisseurs for a wine of impeccable quality, a quality which earned its promotion to first rank during classification of the crus bourgeois in 2003.
Hubert Perrodo bought Château Labégorce in 1989, then L'Abbé Gorsse De Gorsse in 2002 and finally Labégorce Zédé in 2005. By reunifying a prestigious vineyard divided by history, he achieved the goal he had set for himself and these great Margaux crus bourgeois once again share their future together. Sadly, Hubert Perrodo died in a skiing accident in 2006, and today his daughter Nathalie manages the estate which also includes the Grand Cru Classé Château Marquis D'Alesme.
A central figure in the history of Château Lascombes was Knight Antoine de Lascombes. As well as being the château’s first recorded owner, it was he who gave Lascombes its name. Born in 1625, he was to forge the destiny of the estate. One of his descendants, Jean-François de Lascombes, a councillor at the Bordeaux parliament, Crown Prosecutor at the Admiralty and member of the Academy, dedicated his fortune to the upkeep of the château and most particularly to enhancing the quality of its wines. In 1855, Château Lascombes was ranked as a Second Classified Growth in the classification of the Grand Crus Classés.
In 1952, Alexis Lichine, château owner, Bordeaux merchant and an excellent taster widely respected by his peers, bought the château and completely overhauled it. Under his leadership, the estate enjoyed a golden era, and its renown spread around the world. Writing several works on wine and travelling widely, he sought passionately to make Château Lascombes a wine of the very highest order.
A man of experience and a highly-reputed winemaker, Dominique Befve took charge of Château Lascombes in 2001. His years spent at great estates such as Lafite-Rothschild in Pauillac paved the way for his future post at Château Lascombes. Under his management the vineyard was restructured and the wine-making methods were completely rethought, leading to the introduction of more modern, high-performing wine-making equipment. In 2011, the MACSF became the new owners when they bought Château Lascombes from Colony Capital. They immediately sought to take the quality of the wines to even greater heights and thereby gain permanent recognition for the fine work begun by the estate’s first owners.
The château, with its elegant profile that can be admired from the entrance gate, contains an array of different architectural styles ranging from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The original château, a classic chartreuse in design (the first floor of which remains today), was built in the 17th century. Successive owners then made their own architectural contributions, especially during the 19th century. The English influence, which was widespread at the time, is particularly apparent on the building’s upper floors. From the surrounding grounds, the view of the château and its adjacent vineyard is superb.
The Château Lascombes vineyards stretch over 112 hectares (276 acres) in the Margaux appellation and 6 hectares (15 acres) in the Haut-Médoc appellation. It is today one of the largest vineyards of the 1855 Classified Growths. The Château Lascombes vines are located in the most prized parcels of Margaux and have the advantage of being planted in a unique variety of soils. The vineyard is made up of three distinct parts of roughly equal surface areas: a gravelly mound, on which Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot are planted, a clay-gravel area planted with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and lastly, clay-limestone plots, perfectly suited to the Merlot grape variety planted there. In fact, Merlot makes up the majority of the grape composition of the vineyard with some 50%, which sets Lascombes apart from other Margaux growths.
Everything begins in the vines. Behind this simple truism lies a series of rigorous and meticulous vineyard tasks (de-leafing, green harvesting and so on) performed throughout the seasons. At Château Lascombes, all the work on the vines is done manually. In recent years, and since the arrival of Dominique Befve, numerous adjustments have been introduced to enhance grape ripeness and quality. Regular, thorough ripeness analyses are carried out, though it is always the tasting of the berries that determines the harvesting dates. The grapes are therefore tasted regularly to estimate their optimal ripeness.
Since 2001, Château Lascombes has been equipped with the latest high-performing tools to enable optimal handling of the grapes while keeping them perfectly intact. Built on four floors, the vat cellar enables the wine-making process to be carried out using gravity systems. Different-sized temperature-controlled stainless steel and oak vats allow the crop to be vinified plot by plot and grape variety by grape variety. Demanding and rigorous techniques such as a pre-fermentation cold soak and ageing on the lees have been adopted to achieve the highest levels of excellence.
The ageing process is the last stage in the making of the wine. At this point both the handling of the wine and the period of time of ageing are important. The First Wine is run into French oak barrels by gravity and is aged for 18 to 20 months. After its malolactic fermentation in barrel it begins its ageing. A barrel rotation system allow the lees to be brought into suspension, giving the wine more flesh and fullness without any air coming into contact with the wine. The different batches are then blended according to their character, terroir and power. The harmony of this blend produces the characteristic richness and complexity of Château Lascombes.
Château Léoville Las Cases
The Grand Vin’s current terroir has therefore been at the historic heart of the original estate since the 17th century. Pierre Jean, Adolphe and Gabriel De Las Cases were successive heirs to the property until 1900, when Théophile Skawinski purchased a share in the estate and became its manager. Léoville Las Cases has now been managed by the same family since the late 19th century and is today represented by Jean-Hubert Delon, sole owner of the Château and proprietor of Château Potensac in the Médoc and Château Nénin in Pomerol.
The Grand Vin is the product of exceptional terroirs from the former Léoville estate. These terroirs are located mainly in the Clos Léoville Las Cases, which you pass as you leave the village of Saint-Julien heading for Pauillac. They extend over nearly 60ha, producing complex, polished Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with characteristics which are totally unique to the Grand Vin of Léoville du Marquis de Las Cases and which have been widely recognised for many years.
The Clos encases a terroir of great complexity. It is mainly composed of Quaternary gravel ("graves" in French) over gravelly sand and gravelly clay subsoils. We also find clays which are variably deep and compact, but which sometimes break through to the surface. The proximity of the Gironde River has created the wide diversity of soils, formed over various geological periods. The river also creates a special microclimate that enables very early ripening of the grapes and protects the vineyards from frost. This combination of geological and geographical influences affect the growth of the vines and the quality of the grapes: regular but restricted water supply and a very low intake of nutrients bring out the best in the great Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc which usually achieve their full potential whatever the vintage. The incomparable terroir gives this great wine its unique personality.
With its splendid manor house built at the end of the 18th century, Château Mazeyres was purchased at the beginning of the 20th century by the Querre family which focused its efforts on producing a delicate and fruity wine for a clientele of French restaurants. In 1988, the Querre family decided to sell the property to the Pension Fund of the Société Générale Bank, which subsequently transferred its ownership in 2010 to Sogecap (the life insurance sector of this bank).
In 1992, Alain Moueix, a viticultural engineer and oenologist, was entrusted with the management of Château Mazeyres. Fourth generation of a family of Libourne winegrowers and wine merchants, he brought with him all of the skill and expertise of this region. He invigorated the vineyards by increasing their surface area and by reassessing the methods used for vine growing, wine-making and maturation; the fermenting room and wine-storage were modernised, the manor house fully refurbished and the quality of the wines maximised.
Driven by real ambition for this estate, Alain Moueix also formed close links with Bordeaux wine merchants and, for the past 20 years, he has worked to ensure the far-reaching international influence of the wines of Château Mazeyres. Sharing with his team a determination to make wines of ever increasing quality and purity of expression of their terroir, Alain Moueix has inspired new motivation at the heart of Château Mazeyres. The recent acquisition of 4 hectares of land at the core of the appellation and establishing biodynamic methods for vine growing throughout the vineyard will enable the wines of Château Mazeyres to yield their very finest splendour.
Château Mazeyres lies in Pomerol, the Gironde’s smallest appellation, an area reputed for the aromatic intensity of its wines and for the characteristic features of its terroirs which are part of this exceptional geological formation. The vineyards of Château Mazeyres are situated on a lovely hillcrest of sandy gravel with a sub-soil comprised of clayey-gravel; another part stretches across the Catusseau plateau and is made up of sands on a sub-soil containing a high concentration of iron-rich clay, known locally as “crasse de fer”.
Aware of this unique potential, from 1992 onwards, Alain Moueix decided to enhance and develop this vineyard so that it could reveal its authentic terroir expression. Initially, he opted for rational, sustainable vine growing methods and established an extremely precise system for managing each plot of the vineyard individually so as to reveal the diversity and complementarity of these different terroirs.
Furthered by his experience at Château Fonroque (which has employed 100% biodynamic growing methods for the past 6 years), Alain Moueix was able to observe significant changes concerning the interaction between the plant, the soil, the sub-soil and the environment, therefore producing an effect of authenticity and delicacy in the terroir expression of the wines produced. Quite naturally and very gradually, Alain Moueix wished to apply biodynamic growing techniques to the entire vineyard at Château Mazeyres. Thanks some sound advice from the consultant Jacques Melle and training given to the team for procedures that protect the environment, extremely satisfactory results have already been noted.
This is a new challenge for Alain Moueix who constantly seeks greater purity, depth, concentration and freshness for his wines. It will be made easier by the recent acquisition of 4 hectares of land situated where Libourne’s racecourse formerly stood. With soils comprised of clayey-gravel, two grape varieties are now grown on this new terroir: Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, bringing in turn a certain upright character and an authentic freshness to the wines. Length and an expression of purity, combined with more elegant tannins, are also going to shape the character of wines from Château Mazeyres.
On his father’s death, Etienne Théodore Dumoulin discovered the patch of heathland that everyone had forgotten about, sold to his family by Nicolas Alexandre de Ségur. It is here that the first chapter in the story of Château Montrose opens, written by the man who cleared the scrub. In 1815, he planted the vineyard and built the necessary facilities to operate the estate and make the wine.
1855 marked the birth of a Grand Cru with the inclusion of Château Montrose in the official classification, a spectacular achievement for a vineyard barely 40 years old. Encouraged by this success, Etienne Théodore Dumoulin continued to expand his vineyard and by the time of his death in 1861 he left his heirs an estate spanning 95 hectares (234 acres), its current size.
Mathieu Dollfus, a factory owner from Alsace, acquired Château Montrose in 1866 and began to reorganise the estate. He redeveloped the existing buildings and built new ones, modernised the facilities and introduced new vinegrowing and winemaking methods. From the vineyard to the winery, he endowed Château Montrose with the best technology available at the time.
He was also a pioneer in human resources, creating ideal, unique and generous working and living conditions for his staff, including housing on the estate, free healthcare and profit sharing. Designer of the “Montrose village” with its squares and streets, he had a huge influence on the life of the estate. A visionary entrepreneur, he managed to halt the scourge of phylloxera by installing a windmill which pumped water from an underground well and flooded the land, saving the vineyard. The windmill, preserved by successive generations of owners, is now one of the symbols of Château Montrose.
From 1896 to 2006, following in the footsteps of Mathieu Dollfus after his death in 1886, the Charmolüe family guided the estate along the path of stability and excellence. For over a century, with these managers at the helm, Château Montrose steadily enhanced its reputation. The estate regularly produced legendary vintages, maintaining consistently high quality even during difficult times.
Château Montrose remained in the Charmolüe family despite a severe economic crisis and two world wars. In 1960, Jean-Louis Charmolüe started to replant the vineyard and modernise the facilities, consolidating Château Montrose’s position as one of the finest Médoc wines.
Succeeding three generations of the Charmolüe family, Martin and Olivier Bouygues acquired Château Montrose in 2006. They loved its wines, to which they had been introduced by their father, Francis Bouygues. Aware of the potential of its unique terroir, they appreciated the advantages and riches of the estate and decided to invest in it. Under their impetus, Château Montrose entered the 21st century with a spectacular reconstruction.
This exceptional project took seven years, from 2007 to 2013, a timespan justified by the wish to respect the estate’s cycle of activity. The 10,000m² renovation met four major challenges set by Martin and Olivier Bouygues:
- to give Château Montrose the finest vinegrowing and winemaking facilities, including a new 1,000m², 11 metre-high main barrel hall where the grand vin can mature in ideal conditions
- to identify and take advantage of every opportunity to save and produce energy, especially through a geothermal system and 3,000m² of rooftop solar panels
- to respect the environment and significantly reduce the estate’s carbon footprint
- to preserve the overall architecture of Château Montrose in the typical 18th century Bordeaux style
Following on from their predecessors, Martin and Olivier Bouygues aim to further enhance this unique terroir, a single sweep in an ideal location on the banks of the Gironde estuary. Under the direction of Mélissa Bouygues and managed by Hervé Berland, the estate benefits from a combination of youth and experience in a multi-generational team in which vinegrowers and winemakers rub shoulders with technical specialists and academic experts.
Blessed with undisputed natural assets combined with advantages nurtured over the centuries, Château Montrose has one of the region’s most privileged winegrowing terroirs. The 95 hectares (234 acres) of vineyards surround the château, the winery and the outbuildings in a single continuous sweep, an exceptional and historically very rare feature. As well as making the vineyard easier to work, this unity means that it can be treated as a single entity, providing ideal conditions for efficient organisation and for monitoring the condition of each parcel.
The Montrose terroir corresponds to what geologists call “elite cores”. Over millions of years, a complex process of geological layering resulted in the creation of outcrops, ideal for making fine wines and ensuring natural drainage towards the estuary. The soil on these terraces consists of gravel mixed with sand on the surface, over a clay-rich subsoil in which natural water reserves form at depth, providing the vines with the moisture they need.
At Château Montrose, the largest parcel is two hectares (five acres), the smallest only a few hundred square metres, but each has its own personality, its own particular soil or subsoil, and vines whose age, yield, variety or rootstock are different from those of its neighbour. In the end it is the wine itself which, in its own way, brings this amazing patchwork together, since it is both the result and the synthesis of each micro-terroir.
Five kilometres north of Pauillac in Saint-Estèphe, the northernmost appellation in the Médoc, Château Montrose is situated on a very well-drained and ideally exposed gravelly outcrop which runs for over a kilometre along the Gironde estuary. The presence of a broad estuary, the largest in Europe, has a decisive effect on the local microclimate. Montrose is one of the few estates to enjoy such a highly privileged situation.
The proximity of this vast water mass acts as a natural regulator. It attenuates the excessive cold which can be so devastating in the form of spring frosts, and it tempers the destructive effect of heatwaves which starve the vines and grapes of water in the height of summer. That is why the Montrose vineyard escaped the frost in 1991 and the development of botrytis during the 2013 harvest. Montrose’s situation, on an outcrop overlooking the estuary, is precious to the vineyard because of its exposure to wind and sun. The rows of vines are planted north-south, enabling the grapes to take full advantage of the sun throughout the day. The dominant north-west winds dispel excessive humidity when it rains.
The mix of grape varieties at Château Montrose, with Cabernet Sauvignon predominant (60% of the vines), is typical of the finest Médoc estates. Cabernet Sauvignon gives its best on warm, gravelly and permeable soil with clay subsoil which helps to store the water the vines need in drought conditions. The Garonne gravel terroirs found at Montrose are its preferred home.
Parcels of Merlot (32%), Cabernet Franc (6%) and Petit Verdot (2%) are also planted where the soil suits them best, enabling the grapes to reach full maturity and express the complexity typical of the terroir. Each variety is planted on the terroir, in the parcel and with the density that will optimise its qualities.
At Montrose, Merlot brings a gentle, feminine touch along with silky tannins and aromatic flavours. Cabernet Franc is a very high-quality variety, known for its elegant aromas, which gives fresh and complex wines, while Petit Verdot brings colour, along with pleasant spice and pepper flavours.
After an initial selection in the vineyard during picking, the grapes are brought to the vat-house. Built in 2000, it has three reception lines. In pursuit of the highest quality, a team of nine people sort the bunches by hand before they are destemmed. The individual grapes are then sorted optically and again by hand before being finally transferred to the vats.
All the vineyard work of tasting the grapes and harvesting them parcel by parcel is continued in the winery. The vat-house contains 70 temperature-controlled stainless steel vats of different sizes, meaning that wines can be made to measure. They are vinified with complete respect for the grapes. Each stage in the process is designed to reveal the expression of the terroir and obtain a particular style, that of Montrose. The wines are vatted for 25 days at most, respecting the fruit and the substance. All the lots are kept separate after running-off so that all the different profiles of the vat wines are available for blending. The pomace is pressed with a high degree of precision. The press wines are then stored in barrels and selected: the finest will be used in the first wine.
Blending tastings start in December. All the samples – nearly 60 different lots – are tasted and classified according to their style and profile. They are then selected and blended according to the personality sought for each wine.
From January, each vintage is barrel-matured in a specific barrel hall. The grand vin, Château Montrose, is matured for 18 months in 60% new French oak barrels from eight different coopers. For the second wine, La Dame de Montrose, the proportion of new barrels is 30% and the wine is matured on average for 12 months. The Saint-Estèphe de Montrose is matured for 12 months in 20% new barrels.
During the maturing process the wines are racked every three months or so. The traditional method used at Montrose involves transferring the wine from one barrel to another by gravity so that the clear wine can be perfectly separated from the lees which settle naturally at the bottom of the barrel.
Musar's winery is housed in the family's 18th century castle at Ghazir, overlooking the Mediterranean, some 25km north of Beirut, but unusually it is over two and a half hours away by car from its vineyards in the Bekaa Valley. The reason for this distance between the two is that when Gaston founded the winery, Lebanon's boundaries had not been set and he wished to ensure that some, if not all, of his estate would be within his newly demarcated country. The name of the site of this castle is M'zar - meaning "a place of extraordinary beauty" in Arabic - and Gaston Hochar adopted this for his new project.
It was Gaston's sons, Ronald and Serge Hochar, who elevated the estate to its current lofty heights. After taking the winemaking reins in 1959, Serge spent eighteen years perfecting the blend for the Château Musar red wine, and his love and dedication to his craft meant that wine was made even during Lebanon’s civil war – with only one exception in 1976, when the shelling was just too heavy to get the grapes to the winery.
Of a similar size to Wales, Lebanon lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean and it is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and by Israel to the south. The Bekaa Valley sits between the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon mountain ranges and, although it is further south than any part of Spain or Italy, the high altitude of the vineyards and the calcareous, gravel and stone soils are ideal for producing top quality grapes with almost no human intervention.
Wine lovers fortunate enough to have tasted the wines of Château Musar usually fall into one of two camps: those who are passionate lovers of these inimitable expressions of place and grape, or those who are just plain baffled as to what all of the fuss is about. The perplexion of this second group is understandable as these wines are unique in numerous ways. Unlike any other wine, as it ages red Château Musar might at various points resemble the wine of Bordeaux, Burgundy or the Rhône, and the style of the wine is so far removed from the more commercial, dare we say anodyne, wines all too prevalent today that the uninitiated can easily be forgiven for not knowing what to make of it.
Don't let this put you off. These are well-structured but beguiling wines, rustic and gamey yet perfumed with ripe fruit and exotic spice, and as happy to be paired with the incredible flavours of Lebanese cuisine as they are when served alongside roast beef with all of its trimmings.
Château Musar red is made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan, each of which is fermented separately in cement vats before spending around 12 months in predominantly old French oak barriques, before being blended and bottled in the third year after the harvest. This final blend is aged for a further three to four years and is only released when it reaches the age of seven. Château Musar white is made from the ancient native grape varieties Obaideh and Merwah, each of which is fermented and aged in French oak for six to nine months before blending and bottling takes place. The white Musar is then cellared for a further six years before release at seven years old. Made in the style of a rose Champagne, the rose Château Musar is a blend of Odaideh and Merwah with the addition of approximately 5% of Cinsault to provide its delicate hue. It is produced in the same manner as the white Musar, although the rose only ages for two years in bottle before release. All three colours of Château Musar are wines made naturally, by instinct, and all three share an unexpected ability not only to age but to develop and become even more enjoyable with time.
It seems that there can be little better legacy than that left by Serge Hochar since his tragic and untimely passing, both philosophically in the way that he led his life, in the way that he made his wines and in the joy that he brought - and will continue to bring - to so many; and physically in the sublime wines that he has left us and in the estate that will continue to uphold the ideals he held so dear.
Château Pavillon Beauregard
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse De Lalande
In 1850, his daughter Virginie, who was married to the Comte De Lalande, and her sisters inherited the vineyard from their father and gave it the name of Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse De Lalande to differentiate it from its neighbour. In 1925, the family sold the property to Edouard and Louis Miailhe. Their daughter, May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, in turn inherited this beautiful property in 1978 and devoted herself entirely to upholding the tradition of producing excellent wine. Without an obvious family successor, May-Eliane sold the estate to Champagne Roederer in 2007 before "retiring" to South Africa where she founded, and still runs, the Glenelly estate.
Bordering Château Latour, the second growth Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande estate is located in the southern part of Pauillac, near Saint-Julien. Indeed, nine of its sixty five hectares actually lie in this neighbouring appellation. The vineyards lie on deep gravel beds underpinned by clay and then by sandstone and limestone. Pichon Longueville is not as powerful or as tannic a wine as those of some other Pauillac châteaux, mainly because of its unusually high Merlot content. It's so-called feminine personality is marked by elegance, balance and finesse. The wine is fermented in stainless steel vats before blending. The first selection spends 18 months in 50% new French oak and becomes the grand vin, and the second selection becomes Réserve De La Comtesse, the estate's long-standing second wine.
In 1720, Count Lynch built the present house as a hunting lodge. Later, it became the property of M. de Pontac, director of the city of Bordeaux, who gave his name to the property. Since 1952, the estate has belonged to the Bung family and today it is run by Marie-Christine Bung, the third generation to head up the operation.
The soil consists of clay and limestone with a layer of gravel on the surface, allowing a very typical Médoc selection of grape varieties to thrive. The vineyards are planted to 45% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Château Pontac-Lynch applies a philosophy of highly sustainable agriculture to its property, and since 2010 it has used less pesticide than any other Médoc estate.
A century later, Pontet-Canet was included in the famous 1855 classification, confirming its membership among the elite châteaux of the Médoc. This privileged position did not go unnoticed by one of the most important Bordeaux shippers of the time, Herman Cruse, who bought the estate in 1865. He built new cellars, modernised the winemaking facilities, and established the wine's reputation around the world. The Cruse family owned Pontet-Canet for 110 years, until another shipper (from Cognac this time), Guy Tesseron, acquired it in 1975.
Over two centuries Pontet-Canet has only been owned by three different families. Today it is run by Alfred Tesseron with his niece, Melanie. Thirty years after their arrival in Pauillac, the Tesserons have the satisfaction of knowing that they have gradually replanted a substantial area of the vineyard, as well as renovating the buildings and the wine making facilities.
Château Pontet-Canet is located in the heart of the Pauillac appellation, just south of châteaux Mouton Rothschild and d'Armailhac. It has the poor gravelly soil typical of the appellation's greatest vineyards. In fact, the soil has so much gravel and sand that it is difficult to imagine that anything could grow there at all. The 80-hectare estate is predominately planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, the signature variety for the great wines of Pauillac. This demanding grape is perfectly adapted to Pauillac's climate and soil, producing full-bodied, well-structured, long-lived wines famous for their finesse and elegance. In keeping with a longstanding Médoc tradition, it is blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, which add a touch of smoothness and charm. In certain vintages, Petit Verdot can also be counted on to contribute complexity.
Pontet-Canet's terroir features rises of Garonne gravel on limestone bedrock. The soil is lean, warm, and well-drained. In order to make the most of this terrroir, Alfred Tesseron instituted a plot-by-plot vineyard management system.
Careful observation year after year has led to an intimate familiarity with practically every vine. The château's winegrowing philosophy is to intervene as little as possible and as naturally as possible in the vineyard. Only traditional viticultural and cultivation practices are used. Chemical weed killers are banned, in keeping with environmental protection, and priority is given to the vine's long-term health. In keeping with this spirit, fertilisers are entirely organic, and only used on plots that genuinely require extra nutrition. This helps to maintain a good balance of growth and self-regulates yields of grapes, as well as respecting the soil, reflecting the terroir, and producing pure, natural wine. Pruning is done with the greatest of care in winter by highly qualified workers. Each individual vine is considered separately and treated accordingly. All of these efforts result in grapes that are evenly distributed, with good ventilation, maximum sun exposure, and improved ripeness.
Great attention to detail is paid during the harvest at Pontet-Canet. In fact, preparations begin as soon as the previous harvest is over! Alfred Tesseron implemented a new system, starting with the 1999 vintage. Grape picking baskets were replaced by small crates. Once full, these go directly from the vineyard to sorting tables. This avoids transferring the grapes between various baskets, and from a hod to a trailer. It also enables the château to manage parcels of seven and a half kilos of grapes rather than two tonnes, which was the case when trailers were used...
The grapes are kept unbruised and uncrushed, and they are not pumped around the winery to eliminate the risk of oxidation. The two sorting tables and the two reception areas located above the vats run non-stop, but at a slow rate to allow for extremely careful sorting and absolutely minimal handling of the grapes. This close surveillance – the natural continuation of the care and attention lavished on the vineyard throughout the growing season – makes it possible to separate lots according to plot and grape variety with extreme precision, and to fine tune the final blend.
Since the very hot 2003 vintage, sorting has been further improved. A second vibrating sorting table, located behind each destemmer, provides perfect quality control. Eight people sort the uncrushed grapes by hand in order to remove all matter other than grapes, including small pieces of stems. This method ensures that only the ripest, healthiest grapes make it to the fermenting vats. However, it is also very labour-intensive, calling for some 30 workers at the grape reception area and to do the sorting, or the equivalent of one person per three pickers.
Rather than heavy, polluting tractors, horses are used to work the vineyards. Reine, Sans Soucis, Surprise, Turbo, Ulysse, Univers, Vigor joined the Pontet-Canet team a couple of years ago with the aim of cultivating the vines and avoiding compacting the soil so that the roots are better able to penetrate the soil and extract nutrients. This isn't anything to do with nostalgia or gimmickery, but more to do with a real bet on the future that obliges the team to adapt working with a horse to modern methods and constraints. It is of course a challenge that draws the estate closer to nature and enables it to go even further with its ideology of respecting its vines and terroir. 32 hectares are now entirely cultivated by horses, without any intervention from a tractor. If this scheme is successful, more stables will gradually be built.
A unique vat room was built in the 19th century which allowed the grapes to drop into the vats via gravity rather than via pumping. This method of filling, combined with the use of natural yeasts, gives a slow fermentation. Gentle maceraction over a long period ensures the extraction of the most elegant tannins. Taking this as his model, Alfred built a modern version in 2005 when he built a new vat room based on the same principles. The first of its kind in the Médoc, this vat room houses 32 truncated cone-shaped vats, each with a capacity of 80 hectolitres. These vats are located in the previous cement vat room, dating back to the 1940s, and renovated several times since. The previous vats were all taken out to make space for them. Furthermore, the stainless steel vat room, built in 1986, was also abandoned. The vats were removed and sold. The new cement vats each weigh 9 tonnes and their 15cm thick walls provide good thermal inertia, thereby encouraging slow, gentle fermentations. The vats are fully temperature controlled and they can be either cooled down or warmed up very efficiently. Their hatches, which cover almost the entire top of the vat, are located directly under the sorting tables on the first floor. The grapes thus fall down straight into the vats by simple gravity. This vat room is both resolutely modern and in keeping with the Médoc's winegrowing tradition. It is the result of discussions between Alfred Tesseron, the famous oenologist Michel Rolland, the architect Christophe Massie, and Jean-Michel Comme, Regisseur of Pontet-Canet.
By facilitating the fermentation of small lots, this new system makes it easier to select and fine tune the final blend. Grapes from each plot (or part of a plot) are kept separate. This is done out of deference to the terroir and out of respect for the fruit, which are the two bywords for making fine wine. Pontet-Canet is truly a tailor-made wine.
Maceration generally lasts for more than four weeks, but varies according to grape variety, vineyard plot, and the age of the vines. The wine is run off directly into barrels, where it ages for sixteen to twenty months, depending on the vintage. The proportion of new barrels is never greater than two thirds.
Pontet-Canet has always been a legendary Médoc. It is deep ruby-red, crimson, and sometimes almost black colour and has a characteristic bouquet of black fruit (especially blackcurrant), liquorice, and prune as well as fig, cedar, and sometimes cocoa overtones. Pontet-Canet combines power and elegance, as well as concentration and fullness on the palate. Rather sinewy in style, Pontet-Canet is clearly a classical wine with a tannic structure that provides excellent ageing potential. The château team is conscious of the fact that they are following in the footsteps of more than three centuries of tradition, with each period contributing its technical innovations in the interest of quality and in order faithfully to reflect the terroir.
Château Pontet Plaisance
The estate took the name of Suduiraut in 1580 upon the marriage of Nicole d'Allard to Léonard de Suduiraut. The château was plundered and burned down during the Fronde insurrection, then rebuilt in the 17th century. It was re-named Cru du Roy in the late 18th century when it was taken over by a nephew of the Suduiraut family, Jean Joseph Duroy, Baron of Noaillan. The family home then acquired a cartouche featuring the Suduiraut and Duroy coats of arms, which was to give rise to the escutcheon used by Château Suduiraut today. The property was planted with magnificent formal gardens, designed by Le Nôtre, King Louis XIV's renowned gardener.
On 18 April, 1855 the estate was classed as a Premier Cru during the official wine classification programme in the Gironde winegrowing area.
AXA Millésimes acquired Suduiraut in 1992, with the aim of preserving and perpetuating the estate's remarkable tradition of vineyard management and winemaking. Inspired by the great Suduiraut wines of the past, the new management has enabled this great vineyard to fulfil its full potential in recent years.
Suduiraut's superb terroir, bathed in sunlight and embraced by autumnal mists generously supplied by the Ciron and Garonne rivers, benefits from ideal conditions for the development of noble rot. The vineyard’s 92 hectares are on a sandy, gravelly soil whose stones capture the heat of the sun, helping the grapes to ripen more quickly. It is this unique terroir that gives the wine its outstanding opulence. This thin soil retains very little water leading to low yields. It concentrates the grapes' qualities and forces the vine to draw its nourishment from deep in the earth. The wine's relationship with the terroir is even stronger because of this, and it expresses itself with strongly-marked minerality. It is this match of opposites, opulence and minerality, that transforms the tasting experience
The team at Suduiraut is passionate about their work is united in the pursuit of its goal: to extract from this great vineyard one of the world's finest wines. These craftsmen use their talent and creativity each year to produce exceptional wines, demonstrating to wine enthusiasts throughout the world the very best that this magical alliance of men, earth and sky can create.
The Suduiraut estate's vines are planted in soil that is superbly suited to Sémillon and Sauvignon grapes. Sémillon, which represents 90% of the Suduiraut vineyard's vine population, is the preferred variety for Sauternes as it has a very thin skin that is particularly sensitive to the Botrytis Cinerea, or noble rot, that gives the wine its concentrated sweetness and aromas. This is rounded off with a richly aromatic 10% of Sauvignon Blanc
High vine planting density (7,000 vines per hectare) and the high average age of vines (30 years) are important factors in the final quality of the wines. Environmentally responsible winegrowing methods and low yields (lower than 15 hectolitres per hectare) ensure the wine’s exceptional quality. A strict selection of the best botrytised bunches during harvest means that Château Suduiraut is made only from the very best that the vineyard has to offer.
Suduiraut winegrowers allow time for the terroir to give its very best. The vines' age (a majority of them are over 30 years old) is a guarantee of exceptional quality, giving well-nourished and more concentrated grapes. Short pruning allows the clusters to gain more sunlight, meaning that the grapes will be smaller and of higher quality. The soil is worked in keeping with traditional Bordeaux methods: the work is done by hand and organic fertilisers are used.
Harvesting is meticulous and painstaking; picking is staggered (the vines are inspected up to five times) to keep pace with the Botrytis development, and clusters are most often only partially picked. Sometimes, however, in years with great concentration, whole clusters are picked to ensure that the wines are well balanced.
Sauternes is quintessentially a wine that is deeply rooted in tradition. Its quality is dependent on meticulous handiwork that requires the talents of a true craftsman. In the cellar the long and intricate pressing process extracts the richest juice before it is vinified and slowly matured in oak barrels, where the precious liquid will remain for 18 to 24 months. Total control of fermentation, barrel by barrel, ensures that the aromas produced by the raisined, botrytised grapes are preserved intact. This stage of the transformation, which is always a little mysterious and emotional even for the most experienced professionals, is followed by a drastic selection of a portion of the precious liquid during blending, so that only exceptional wines will be created. In years when the harvest has not reached the required quality, no Grand Vin will be bottled.
Botrytis Cinerea is both a curse and a blessing. The fungus is present on the undeveloped fruit immediately after flowering and it appears on the grapes as soon as they start to ripen. Its arrival is unpredictable, which has a significant effect on yield, making each harvest even more precious. If the weather is damp, the fungus develops as grey rot and makes the harvested grapes unusable. Any such clusters are cut off and disposed of.
However, if damp mornings in the vineyard are followed by hot days, then the fungus develops as noble rot. It destroys the grape's skin making it permeable to water, thereby leading to greater concentration. The grape becomes raisined and its flesh highly concentrated in sugar and aromas of candied fruit that are characteristic of Sauternes wines.
The proportion of each grape variety used determines the Suduiraut's unique profile. 90% of the estate's vineyards are planted with Sémillon vines and 10% with Sauvignon Blanc. Sémillon is a traditional variety of the region. When it is infected with noble rot it has an ample structure on the palate and gives the wine great mellowness and unctuosity. Wines produced with Sémillon grapes are remarkably aromatic: they evoke honeyed fragrances, grilled nuts (almond, hazelnut), acacia blossom, fig, dried fruit and candied citrus. Sauvignon Blanc has very characteristic aromas of citrus and white peach. When vinified as a liquoreux, or dessert wine, it adds a touch of acidity to the blend, bringing freshness and aromatic complexity.
Château Tour Des Gendres
In 1986, the De Conti brothers began a common project. They joined their families' properties, and created SCEA De Conti, a family agricultural and wine business. Once they had revitalised and improved the Tour Des Gendres vineyards, Jean took on the management of the vineyards and Luc manages winemaking and marketing. Carol handles the accounts and Martine is in charge of the property. A cousin, Francis, joined the operation in 1990, adding 20 hectares of Saint Julien d'Eymet vineyards to those of Gendres and Grand Caillou and assisting with the vineyard management.
"Epicurean by nature, we have learned to organise the conditions for a life of pleasure. Each with his specialty, we strive to work the land and the vines for making wine, we welcome our customers and we manage the domaine. This strategy, this hedonistic arithmetic, gives us the satisfaction of working and living together, and developing our operations while also developing the region. We enjoy the present while preparing for the future ... it is the family instinct." - Luc de Conti
Château Tour Des Gendres' wines are grown on layers of calcareous soil to the south of the Dordogne river. Known since the 12th century as the winery of Château De Bridoire, Château Tour Des Gendres (literally “Tower of the Sons-in-Law”) is located on the site of an old Gallo-Roman villa. Referenced in the 1903 Guide Féret, the estate is named after its then owner Sir Peyronny, the son of the Marquis De Foucault De Lardimalie, Lord of Bridoire. The vines were destroyed by phylloxera in the early 19th century and the current vineyard is only one tenth of its original surface area.
The vineyard is fifty two hectares in size and offers three very different terroirs: Les Gendres, Les Grand Cailloux and St. Julien d’Eymet. At Les Gendres, the soil is very calcareous and gives colourful, full-bodied wines with round and ripe tannins. At Les Grand Cailloux the soil is clayey and calcareous, giving fruitier wines and at Saint Julien d’Eymet, the sandy, clayey-calcareous mixture brings suppleness and fruit. The red grape varieties planted are Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Cabernet Franc (9%) and Malbec (1%). For the white wines it is 60% Sémillon and 40% Sauvignon Blanc. In some years a little Muscadelle is also used.
The De Contis have 52 hectares of vineyards, all in Bergerac, and all organically farmed since 1994. They have been AGROCERT certified since 2005. Yields are managed based on grape varieties, soil, vintage, the style and balance of the wines and their agricultural plots. Vinification techniques are customised to reflect the true expression of each vintage. Luc is deeply committed to biodynamic farming methods and Château Tour Des Gendres is the flagship of the Bergerac appellation. Luc's wines are among the finest and most exciting wines of Southwest France.
We've been working with Luc De Conti at Château Tour Des Gendres for over 20 years, during which time his wines have gone from excellent to quite sublime. Some people might consider him a touch avant garde as a winemaker, but his attention to detail is second to none and every bottle shows his warm and generous personality.
Chateau Trimoulet Grand Cru St Emilion
This small right bank property is owned by the Jean family and has been in the family hands since 1802 so a good amount of knowledge has been handed down for generations. The family also owns the more famous property of Couvent des Jacobins. The current manager of the chateau is Michel Jean.
In recent years, Nicolas Thienpont has been consulting at the property and has made changes in both the vineyard and cuverie - one of the major changes being the reduction of yield and the xclusion of some of the lesser good parcels of vines from the property's main wine.
The blend is as you would expect, a majority of Merlot with a decent dollop of Cabenet Franc and a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon. This is always a good bet for younger drinking.
Vinification at Château Viranel is really traditional - the family has been making wine here for several generations and the history of the property can be traced back to 1551 - yet they use one technique for the reds that we had not encountered before. It's called délèstages (rack and return): rather than just pumping the fermenting juice taken from the bottom of the tank over the top of the cap of grape solids, they empty the vat of all juice and then return all of the must over the cap. This has the effect of fully breaking up the cap instead of the wine gently finding the same old path back to the bottom of the vat, thus ensuring maximum extraction not only of colour but of soft tannins and wonderful flavours.
The white wines, too, are all little gems with the Viognier being a real feather in their cap. It retains great freshness, and aromatic intensity whilst managing to avoid being another example of the oily, overblown style so often encountered. All in all, the wines of Château Viranel are not only some of the finest of Saint-Chinian but of the entire Languedoc-Roussillon region. They offer exceptional value and we cannot recommend them highly enough.
Cheval Des Andes
Cheval Blanc’s reconnection with its past was consummated in 1999 during this visit through the selection of the most highly treasured, high elevation terroir in Argentina: Terrazas De Los Andes’ 80 year-old Las Compuertas vineyard in Vistalba, Mendoza. Upon tasting their Malbec, Pierre was captivated by the quality of the wine being produced in this breathtaking yet seemingly inhospitable location and was intrigued by the notion of unearthing a connection with Saint-Émilion’s past. Devistated by phylloxera in the 1860s, Malbec lost its position as the one of the most important grape varieties in Saint-Émilion and Pomerol, but had since been reincarnated in ungrafted form in Argentina where it was producing some of the world’s best examples of its type. With this renaissance in Argentina emerged an ambitious vision to forge a new path in international winemaking.
Cheval Des Andes is the first fusion of the Premier Grand Cru Classé A of Saint-Émilion, Cheval Blanc, with its skillfulness and savoir-faire, and Terrazas De Los Andes, with the best Argentinian high-altitude terroir and its expertise in producing Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. The philosophy of successive harvests directly addresses the synergy born as a driving idea to bring together the art of assemblage, the experience of the old world, and the creativity, vitality and innovation of the new world in one wine.
The winemaking team at Cheval Des Andes personifies the expression of savoir-faire, demonstrating the ultimate expertise that comes with instinctive knowledge. Using their intuitive senses on a daily basis, they define the quality, style and evolution of the wines and vineyards. Whether French or Argentinian, they are united by their craft and their thorough understanding of high altitude winemaking. Cheval Des Andes is the result of what happens when passion and savoir-faire converge. Both are as fundamental to winemaking as the vines themselves.
Situated in the Andes, more than a thousand metres above sea level, the vineyard is located in the Las Compuertas district, right at the heart of Vistalba, one of the most distinguished areas in Mendoza. The vineyards are watered by a traditional irrigation system: the natural meltwater from the Andes mountain range runs through small furrows that cover the total surface of grapevines with pure water rich in minerals. The historic vineyards extended over 50 hectares also reflect the long-lasting commitment to the environment. They are organic by nature. The soil is sandy-loam with stones providing good drainage, encouraging deep root growth and ensuring greater balance, durability and site expression. Average temperatures in this great terroir couldn’t be more beneficial to the grapes, with warm daytime temperatures contrasted by fresh, crisp thermometer drops after-dark, thanks to the breezes coming down from the hills at night.
Cheval Des Andes practices the French art of assemblage in its winemaking as the five varieties - Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot - are matched, blended, and cajoled to play off each other’s true natures in the hands of esteemed and impassioned winemakers. All of these factors are essential to make Cheval des Andes the most expressive and refined ‘Grand Cru of the Andes’.
Each variety plays a key role in the art of assemblage, contributing unique characteristics expressed in a single wine: Cheval des Andes. The elegant Malbec provides fruit, especially red fruit such as plum and cherries, and violet notes. It also adds roundness and sucrosity with very elegant fine tannins. It is graceful and distinctive. Cabernet Sauvignon delivers structure, firm tannins, and complexity, with a spicy profile filled with green and black pepper, and redcurrant and blackcurrant notes. Merlot exhibits notes of black fruits such as blackberries, blackcurrants or black cherries, accompanied by sweet, spicy nuances. Full-bodied, with soft tannins and a fleshy palate. Petit Verdot is a variety that easily adapts to different conditions. Wines obtained from this variety have a beautiful deep colour, and plum, cherry and raspberry fruit notes. It adds acidity and a vegetal touch. Cabernet Franc offers structured and fruity wines with intense colour and notes of raspberries and violets.
The art of assemblage at Cheval Des Andes blend plays with the complexity of the place, the terroir, and several grapes varieties in order to highlight their synergy through blending. The different grape varieties are hand-harvested in the cool hours of the morning. Bunches and berries are thoroughly sorted at the winery and the fermentation tanks are filled using gravity. Alcoholic fermentation is followed by a gentle and prolonged maceration lasting 30 days on average, combining pumping-over and delestage. The individual grape varieties undergo 6 months of ageing in French oak barrels before being blended and spending a further 12 months in 30 to 60% of new barrels, except for part of Malbec which uses second fill barrels to obtain more fruit and freshness. The final blend is then aged in new French oak barrels for 6 more months. Regular racking takes place to ensure clarity and brightness without filtering. The wine is then bottled and aged for at least 18 months longer.
The sustainable production system includes the rational use of natural resources, eliminating synthesic products. Cultivation work is focussed upon the best balance of plants and soil, preserving the existing ecosystem. The philosophy of the art of assemblage is expressed through the 5 grape varieties planted in the terroir that offers the optimum conditions within the precious vineyards. In addition to such amazing growing conditions, the oenologists use all of their skill and experience to bring out the most elegant and refined expression of their grape varieties.
Around that time, Luigi decided to build his own winery and produce wine himself, thereby cutting out the middlemen and increasing the rewards for all of his efforts. Amounting to just a few thousand bottles, Luigi’s first vintage of Barolo was bottled in 1961, with a portion of the wine from his best cask set aside as a Riserva and part of his production sold in cask to the major producers of the area. As the years passed, the estate expanded and its vineyards now cover 12 hectares, both through his purchase of precious hillside vineyards and as a result of his wife, Maria Beatrice, inheriting land in the historic Roggeri cru.
The current winery was built in the 1980s, on a site that had always been known by the name of Ciabot Berton. The small building, or “ciabot” in Piemontese dialect, which stands there once belonged to a man called Berton who had attempted to manufacture fireworks inside it. Not entirely surprisingly, he ended up causing an explosion and blew the roof off the building! This old ruin, which gave its name to the company, can still be seen from the winery and is now surrounded by Nebbiolo vineyards. In homage to Berton’s albeit misguided endeavours, the Obertos named their Barbera D’Alba fisetta or “firework”.
Since the 1990s, Luigi’s children Marco, an oenologist, and Paola, an agronomist, have been working alongside him on the estate. Increasingly aware of the quality and of the potential of their vineyards, Marco and Paola began to vinify the fruit of the different parcels of vines separately, selecting only the best batches of Barolo for bottling. By making small but important changes such as this, and by taking advantage of Luigi’s great experience, the wines of Ciabot Berton are going from strength to strength, gaining ever more appreciation and admiration along the way.
The estate sits in the undulating hills of the densely planted McLaren Vale region, within sight of the sea and less than an hour from Adelaide. The first farmhouses were built in 1860 and these are now the epicentre of the garden and cellar door at the winery. The soils are predominantly (over 80%) terra rossa and these are shallow, with red-brown earth over hard capped limestone. They tend to produce deeply coloured red wines with good structure and backbone that show great capacity for ageing.
For the last 150 years, Shiraz has been the signature grape variety of McLaren Vale and it accounts for the majority (65%) of the estate’s vineyard area. The original vineyards were planted in 1919, immediately after the First World War. The other substantial plantings at Coriole are Sangiovese (10%), Chenin Blanc (5%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (5%). Fiano, Grenache, Barbera, Montepulciano, Merlot and Sémillon are also grown to great effect. In total there are 25 different vineyards cultivated, ranging in age from 3 to 90 years.
It is an old maxim that good wine is made in the vineyard. Fortunately for Coriole, it owns or manages most of the vineyards from where its grapes are sourced. One of the features of the winemaking methodology employed is that each block or part block is processed separately to maximise the potential of the fruit. This also allows the wine quality to be linked directly to the vineyard management of each block. As well as those in McLaren Vale, Coriole also has vineyards in the sub-regions of Blewitt Springs and Willunga.
The winemaking team is led by Senior Winemaker Alex Sherrah and by General Manager and past winemaker Mark Lloyd. Winemaking at Coriole is a very traditional process. Red wines are mainly open fermented in stainless steel or old, wax lined concrete tanks. A proportion of new oak is used, but wines such as the Sangiovese and the Redstone Shiraz are specifically matured in older oak to gain maturity with the minimum contribution of oak flavour and tannin.
This year the first moves have been made to organic viticulture, a programme set to expand in following years, tying in with the Coriole team’s ongoing commitment to sustainability. For many years, they have been working to regenerate native vegetation areas on the property. They do not use mains water - all water on the property is recycled, rain and bore - and they operate a minimal intervention policy for all of their viticulture and wine-making processes.
Their organic vegetable garden grows produce for the winery’s restaurant and they are increasingly interested in the bio-management of the soil using compost teas and green manures. As stewards of their land, they also take a keen interest in broader sustainability issues, such as the state of their unique region and the impact of urban sprawl, infrastructure for the expanding population and town planning in and around McLaren Vale and neighbouring townships.
Based in Soave, Corte Adami owns a beautiful vineyard amongst the rolling hills of the historic cru of Castelcerino. Here, the predominantly volcanic soil is the perfect home for the indigenous Garganega grape of Soave, and Corte Adami produces several very refined examples of what is probably Italy's finest white wine.
Despite being a different appellation and a different colour of wine, Valpolicella immediately neighbours Soave and Corte Adami also has vineyard holdings here, just a few kilometres to the west of its winery. The Adami's Mezzomonte estate in the village of Ferrazze, at the eastern end of the region, was planted between 1962 and 1970 and it supplies the family with the Corvina, Corvinone, Molinara and Rondinella grapes used for its two Valpolicellas and for its Amarone.
Part of the Adami's ultra modern cellar is given over to the passito (drying) process, where grapes are laid out on trays over the winter to shrivel and raisin for around three months. This gentle dehydration sees the grapes lose about a third of their weight, concentrating the sugar, acidity and flavour of the remaining juice. Used for both red and white grapes for the dry Amarone and for the sweet Recioto Di Soave respectively, these are two Corte Adami wines that you really must try.
The cool and temperate west coast offers a variety of micro- and meso-climates and different soil types, providing superb quality grapes that are then crafted into unique wines. Approximately 95% of the estate's vineyards are planted with unirrigated and untrellised bush vines. The advantages of bush vines are plentiful, but the most important attribute for Darling Cellars is that a bush vine is quite hardened against drought as the water resources in the area are very limited. The natural ability of a bush vine to regulate its yield is also critical in an area where one cannot irrigate. In a dry year, the bush vine will carry fewer bunches and in a wetter year it’ll carry more bunches of grapes. This leads to great fruit concentration and a natural balance when the grapes are harvested.
A bush vine also has a deep penetrating root system. Thanks to the low clay content in the soils, their roots can get to water resources and nutrients that lie deep in the soil. Because of their untamed and untrained nature, the only way to harvest and prune a bush vine is by hand. This is a labour intensive process, but the advantages of hand picking, such as bunch selection and gentler handling of the grapes, all outweigh the extra effort and cost. Indeed, the amount of care taken over the bush vines brings the farmers into closer contact with their vines and gives gives them an unsurpassed understanding of all their blocks of vineyards. No wonder there is a bush vine on the Darling Cellars logo.
South Africa is a land of contrasts, and each of its winemaking areas is geographically distinct. The predominant factors are the proximity to the ocean, the prevalence of mountains or low lying hills, the soil types and composition, and the amount of rainfall. Before 2003, Darling was part of the Swartland wine of origin area. The producers there felt that Darling offered something different from the greater Swartland area, primarily due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The Swartland vineyards closest to the sea are another 6 kilometres inland from the Darling Cellars site.
The predominant soil types of Darling's low lying, north east and south west facing hills are decomposed granite and Oakleaf. The relatively low clay content makes for well drained soils and, although the water table is quite high in winter, the vineyards are never flooded. Pockets of sandy soil to the east of the region are great for white wine production, where the breezy, ocean-facing slopes deliver well ripened grapes with more acidity and herbaceousness. Combining grapes from both of these areas results in wines of exceptional character and natural balance.
The main focus at Darling Cellars is Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz thanks to the cooling influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Other excellent performing varieties include Pinotage, Chenin Blanc, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Merlot, and Viognier. Chenin Blanc and Cinsault have been around since the start of wine growing in Darling, with some blocks dating back to the 1940s. Darling Cellars' premium Pinotage block was planted in 1974, and still produces top quality grapes, at a low yield of 3 tonnes per hectare.
Great improvements and plenty of modernisation has taken place at the winery since its foundation in 1948. Stainless steel tanks ranging in capacity from from 5000 to 54,000 litres fill the cellar, giving the opportunity to create both small, individual cuvées and larger volume blends. A barrel ageing cellar with approximately 450 barrels is the pride and focal point of the winery.
In the cellar, grapes and wines are handled as little and as carefully as possible. Good grapes, good equipment and knowledgeable people who make wine with great passion and skill are some of the key elements involved in producing wine at Darling Cellars.
The local biodiversity is very important at Darling Cellars. With a total of 2987 hectares of natural land, Darling is preserving 2.3 hectares of veld for every hectare of vines it has planted. With more than 10% of the floral species in only 1% of the area of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Darling truly is unique among the world's grape growing regions.
Darling lies within the Cape West Coast Biosphere with a wonderfully diverse composition of soil, fauna and flora and terroir. Darling has three major soil types which leads to three distinctive vegetation types, namely Renosterveld, Strandveld and Sandveld. A fourth type, Graniteveld, is also common in the hills. Both Renosterveld fynbos and Sandveld are critically threatened due to the rapid expansion of human habitation and agriculture on the west coast. Darling Cellars currently employs six people dedicated to protecting and rehabilitating these natural areas, and their main objective is to remove invasive alien species of tree, such as Port Jackson, Rooikrans and Blue Gum. About 1200 flower species are found in the area, and 80 of them are endemic. Darling has quite a few breeding pairs of Blue Cranes and large flocks of this vulnerable species have been seen in the area. The occasional Secretary Bird can also be spotted walking around the wheat fields.
A few of the farms in the area have been converted into wildlife and nature reserves, bringing back the game from days gone by. Big game animals such as Zebra, Kwagga, Gemsbok, Bontebok and Eland have been reintroduced in these reserves, with Steenbok and Duiker commonly seen in the vineyards and surrounding natural habitats. With all the important natural resources in the Darling area, sustainable farming has always been the way to survive and protect this most beautiful of regions.
All of these varying factors result in wines that are true to their terroir and true to the identity of Darling Cellars. Investment continues in the winery and cellar with some of the most modern and up to date winemaking equipment in the industry today. A modern bottling line, new presses, a barrel maturation cellar, a new grape off-loading system and continuing replanting of vineyards all contribute to the estates advances in contemporary winemaking.
The Applebaums are committed to sustainable and appropriate agriculture at DeMorgenzon, farming naturally and respecting the vine as a part of a viable and varied ecosystem, rooted in a living soil. The estate is focussed upon producing excellent wines that express their unique terroir and fruit character within a classic structure. The winemaking philosophy is that South Africa's best wines are a combination of New World-style fruit and Old World-style elegance. A relatively cool climate and low humidity gives DeMorgenzon wines that have personality, fruit, flavour and length, but without aggressive tannins.
Approximately 10% of DeMorgenzon has been set aside for the restoration of Renosterveld. 15 hectares of pine forest and assorted invasive alien species have already been removed and the process of clearing the occasional Port Jackson and wattle is ongoing. Renosterveld is one of the most threatened habitats in the Cape Floral Kingdom, because so little remains. Less than 1% of Renosterveld habitat is currently formally protected. Along with Fynbos, Renosterveld is a dominant vegetation type in the Cape Floral Kingdom.
According to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, the Cape Floral Region is of "outstanding universal significance to humanity", and "one of the richest areas for plants in the world". "Its plant species diversity, density and endemism are among the highest world-wide," and it has been identified as one of the world's 18 biodiversity hot-spots.
Although the smallest, the Cape Floral Kingdom is the richest of the world's six floral kingdoms, and the only one to be contained within a single country. A stretch of land and sea spanning 90000 square kilometres, or 0.05% of the earth's land area, the Cape Floral Kingdom contains roughly 3% of the world's plant species. That equates to about 456 species per 1000km². South Africa has the third-highest level of biodiversity in the world - the Table Mountain National Park alone has more plant species within its 22000 hectares than the whole of the British Isles or New Zealand.
The consequences are already visible. A long-dry spring in one of the kloofs has bubbled to the surface. In line with their belief that they must farm in harmony with nature, the Applebaums are restoring the original vegetation in some areas and creating a bio-diverse habitat in their vineyards. They are also experimenting with indigenous cover crops at DeMorgenzon.
DeMorgenzon is a member of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI), a pioneering partnership between the South African wine industry and the conservation sector. BWI’s goals are to minimise the further loss of threatened natural habitat and to contribute to sustainable wine production, through the adoption of biodiversity guidelines by the South African wine industry.
At DeMorgenzon, music is played to the vines and to the wines twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, via speakers strategically placed in the vineyard and in the cellar. The effects of sound and music on plant growth is an intriguing subject and has fascinated many a horticulturist over the years. Although not much scientific investigation has been undertaken, a handful of research papers have reported on the effects of music on plant growth since Charnoe studied the effects of sound waves on the budding of barley in 1972. All have reported positive results from the playing of harmonious or melodious music to plants. Research has been carried out.
Reports of the growth of many record-breaking fruits have been attributed to music. For example, French scientists cultivated a 2kg tomato, and British scientists produced a 13kg beet (Hou and Mooneyham, 1999). Recent scientific studies undertaken at Bilkent Uiversity in Turkey, in cooperation with the Azerbaijan Government Music Academy, found that classical music has positive effects on root growth.
Why play music to vines? In 1623, Galileo Galilei observed that the entire universe "is written in the language of mathematics", and it is remarkable the extent to which science and society are governed by mathematical ideas. Even more surprising, perhaps, is that music, with all of its passion and emotion, is also based upon mathematical relationships. Such musical notions as octaves, chords, scales, and keys can all be demystified and understood logically using simple mathematics.
Whilst what is regarded as melodious, harmonious, or tuneful is ultimately subjective, there seem to be physical justifications for the elements of music that most appeal to people. Much of music consists of melodic and rhythmic patterns put together in an orderly, but creative manner. For many people, the scientific approach to music reached its height in the Baroque and, at DeMorgenzon, they feel its greatest proponent was Johann Sebastian Bach - hence the preponderance of his music on their playlist.
Didier Desvignes Domaine Du Calvaire De Roche-Grès
In 1981, Didier Desvignes bought his first parcel of land in Morgon and named it Domaine du Calvaire de Roche-Grès in honour of the century-old menhirs representing thirteen stations of the cross that he found there amongst the vines. Didier’s deep attachment to his vines is what drives him to vinify each plot and single vineyard of his domaine separately, so as to best express the singularities and nuances of the various terroirs. In a region often plagued by high yields and mass production, the wines of Didier Desvignes stand out for their concentration, finesse and generosity, the result of an unbreakable bond between a family and its land.
Today, Didier Desvignes meticulously cares for his vineyards and makes wines from across the region, including five of the Beaujolais Crus.
Domaine Alain Chavy
The Chavy family has had roots in Puligny for almost 200 years. In 1976, after years of selling grapes to negociants, they began to bottle wines under their own label. Domaine Gérard Chavy et Fils soon established itself as one of the finest domaines in the village. However, in 2003, after a family dispute, the estate was dissolved. The brothers Jean-Louis and Alain Chavy, who had jointly run the domaine, parted company and created their own estates.
Alain Chavy’s 7 hectare estate has the distinction of possessing the deepest cellar (5.5 metres) in Puligny. The high water table of the village makes it difficult to dig a proper cellar and, as a result, most of Puligny’s domaines have above-ground caves that rely upon air conditioning. The barrels resting in Chavy’s beautiful, arched cavern contain wine from some of the finest premier cru vineyards found in the appellation. In addition to land in the prestigious Puligny premiers crus Les Folatières, Les Champs Gain and Les Pucelles, he owns a precious parcel in Les Clavoillons. Les Pucelles and Les Clavoillons are contiguous on the slope, but Chavy is one of only two cellars in Burgundy where you can taste the the two wines side by side. Domaine Laflaive owns the vast majority of the 5.59 hectare Les Clavoillons, but the Chavy brothers each own a small portion which prevents it from being a monopole. Alain farms 0.49 hectares of 50 year old vines in Les Clavoillons, and from it he produces a wine of great depth and minerality. The estate’s bottling from Les Pucelles, which is directly south of Les Clavoillons, is a wine of similar character but with even greater refinement.
Since the establishment of Domaine Alain Chavy, the quality of the wines is always improving. Alain makes a restrained style of Puligny, with ripe (but never over ripe) fruit balanced by crisp acidity, designed for long ageing.
Almost no chemicals are used in the vineyards apart for protection against mildew. All grapes are hand harvested, pressed and fermented in barrel at not more than 25° C. The entire crop is barrel fermented which gives additional depth and intensity to the wines. 20% of the barrels are larger (400 litres) as Alaun believes this keeps the wines rich and complex but with less overtly oaky flavour. The amount of batonnage is low and the malolactic fermentation normally starts late, probably due to the relatively cold temperature in the underground cellar. The wines are not racked before September and have been bottled as late as January, some 16 months after the harvest.
Alain Chavy does not own land in any of the illustrious Grand Crus that stare down on his domaine, but he is able to express the essence of Puligny through some of its finest premier crus. His winemaking is hands off, and a low percentage of new oak allows the terroir to shine through in these pure, elegant wines.
Nicolas Bernard’s approach is reflected more in his wonderful Burgundian accent than in his hip appearance. He follows time-honoured vine growing traditions, no weeding is done to permit the development of a self-sustaining bio-culture that naturally controls vineyard pests, he respects the influence of the phases of the moon and he employ a minimal intervention policy in the cellar. Each wine expresses a personality derived from its terroir, its character is fashioned by the climatic variances of the year.
The wines are aged in oak barrels for 15–18 months, during which time each barrel is tasted individually to determine the optimum exchange between the wine and its lees. The wines are racked just before bottling, in synchronisation with the lunar calendar, to ensure a naturally limpid and stable state, thus avoiding the need for fining and filtration. Once in bottle, the wines mature on the micro-sediment that develops naturally.
The results carry the characteristics of the finest wines of Meursault: fresh, rich, mineral and vibrant.
Domaine Christian Miolane
Christian is a true artist and he knows exactly how to capture and interpret the charms of his vines which today are between 50 and 70 years old. The south-east facing granite slopes of his estate are ideal for Gamay and they supply his wines with real depth and character as well as an ability to age.
For any of you looking for a charming and unusual wedding venue, the estate boasts a beautiful salle des fêtes which makes a perfect place to celebrate. Built in 1860 from golden coloured stone, the vaulted function room also features a modern extension with panoramic views across the estate's vineyards.
The soils of these slopes that lead to the Massif Central consist of brown schist, and the altitude of the vineyards gives a cooler climate than that of surrounding area. This results in a longer growing season that allows the development of greater complexity of flavour in the ripening fruit. The landscape was originally garrigue, the open scrubland of the Languedoc, and hillsides are so steep that normal tractors cannot cope, necessitating the use of a tractor with caterpillar tracks. Vines were planted at high densities to increase the stress on the rootstocks, forcing them to dig ever deeper in to ground to find water and to benefit from a diverse array of minerals. The wines made here have a freshness and balance that you might not expect from southern France and we recommend them wholeheartedly.
In the 1920s, when the Fleurie appellation was first created, the former landowner was infuriated at the loss of the Moulin-à-Vent appellation under which the Clos De La Roilette had previously been classified. In a fit of pique, he created a label using a photograph of his racehorse, Roilette, and he used the name Clos De La Roilette without a mention of Fleurie. The owner also vowed not to sell another drop of his wine on the French market and his entire production went to Switzerland, Germany and England.
By the mid-1960s, the owner’s heirs had lost interest in the estate and a large portion of the land had grown wild and untended. In 1967, Fernand Coudert bought the poorly maintained estate and replanted the vineyards. His son Alain joined him in 1984, and he has been the winemaker ever since. The Couderts say that their particular terroir (mainly clay and manganese-rich soils), and the age of their vines (25 to 33 years-old) account for the richness of their wine. When we were first introduced to Alain Coudert we knew immediately that this was a winemaker we could do business with. There are no new oak barrels here. In fact, the wine making is very traditional and ideally suited to the terroir in this area of Fleurie.
Domaine De La Coume Du Roy
Their great-grandfather, Désiré Esteve, began the tradition of laying down the birth year vintage of each of his descendants and today the history of his family is reflected in the labels of the precious old bottles of Coume Du Roy Maury that date back to 1925. Indeed, the 1932 vintage still resides in its original cask.
The 25 hectare Domaine De La Coume Du Roy sits on the black schist soils of Maury in the heart of the Agly valley, between Corbières and the Pyrenees. Approximately 80% of the vineyards are planted with Grenache Noir and Blanc for the estate's famed, sweet Grenat ("Garnet"), Tuilé ("Tile" or brick-coloured) and Blanc ("White") Maury wines. Carignan, Syrah, Macabeo and Muscat, along with a portion of the Grenache, are used for the more recent additions to the domaine's range of white, red and rosé wines, made in both dry and sweet styles depending upon their appellation.
Domaine De La Croix
In 2001, Group Bolloré acquired the domaine with the aim of showcasing the excellence of its distinguished terroir. Back in 1955, a cru classé system was devised which applied to only 18 of the region's finest properties; Domaine De La Croix was one of these. It took eight years to complete the domaine's metamorphosis: a winery arose from the renovation of the ancient farm and a substantial subterranean cellar was created.
Thanks to its audacious and elegant architecture, the winery integrates perfectly into magnificent vineyards and pine forests, participating in the conservation of the coast. The soil naturally insulates the cellar. The water is recycled, leading the vineyard to integrated agriculture. Vast spaces are dedicated to receiving guests, tasting, sharing an authentic passion for the land and the wines of the Domaine De La Croix.
Domaine De L'Arlot
As at Dujac, the grapes at Domaine De L'Arlot are not destemmed before fermentation and as a result the red wines can appear a little lighter in colour than those from other producers because the stalks absorb some of the pigment during fermentation. What the stems take in colour, they repay by creating greater complexity, elegant fragrance and silkier tannins. Domaine De L'Arlot wines have a purity, freshness and vibrancy to balance their structure and concentration of fruit.
One seldomly encountered treat that Domaine De L'Arlot specialises in producing is a white Nuits-Saint-Georges, made from an equally unusual blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Beurot (the local name for Pinot Gris). Although quite rare, this is a wine not to be missed when the opportunity arises. However, the same is true of any wine from this exceptional domaine!
Each successive generation continued to develop the estate by investing in hillside vineyards, which was a visionary and risky choice one hundred years ago. At the time, those vineyards were already very expensive and not very productive. The bet paid off and today, thanks to the sacrifices and risk-taking of the previous generations, the 11.5 hectare property is one of the most prestigious in terms of diversity, quality and the surface area of its prestigious appellations.
The use of chemical fertilisers is avoided wherever possible, yields are limited even in prolific years, and wine-making techniques which retain the maximum fruit quality are employed. All of the Grand Cru wines are matured in a high percentage of new oak barrels, whilst the rest of the wines are a minimum of 50% new oak. Wines are not filtered or fined before bottling, leaving them as fully and as finely flavoured as possible. Drouhin Laroze boasts 46% of its vineyard holdings as grand cru, an enormous percentage given the size of their vineyard portfolio. I'd never seen a wall of Bonnes Mares barrels stacked two high before, and I was quite overcome on my first visit to the cellar!
Domaine Du Bicheron
Over time, the property has been passed down from generation to generation, along with knowledge and experience that is continually evolving and improving. It all started in 1889, when Antoine Rousset acquired a small vineyard of just 0.3 hectares in size. When he died, his son Georges took over the estate, eventually passing it on to his son Daniel who retired in 2004. Today, Daniel's children, Geneviève and Denis, run the estate which has expanded to cover an area of 50 hectares.
The vineyards are planted on hillsides of clay-limestone soils, spread over the municipalities of Péronne, Azé and, since 2009, Viré. The 98% of the estate's plantings are Chardonnay, and these vines produce both still white wines and sparkling Crémant De Bourgogne. The remaining 2% is a combination of Gamay and Pinot Noir, dedicated to the production of red Burgundy and red Mâcon-Azé.
Environmentally aware, Domaine Du Bicheron practices reasoned agriculture to reduce its use of aggressive treatments as much as possible, favouring lower impact methods both traditional (grassing, ploughing) and modern (the use of pheromones to cause sexual confusion among insect pest populations).
The Roussets' various vineyard holdings enable them to produce and bottle 6 different appellations on the property. Harvesting is carried out partly by hand, for sparkling wines, and partly by machine, for still wines The use of a harvesting machine allows them to wait until the grapes reach the perfect point of ripeness without the expense and inconvenience of keeping a team of human pickers on standby. This allows them to make the best possible wines with the absolute minimum amount of intervention.
The Roussets are demanding winemakers, committed to offering quality wines. To this end, Domaine Du Bicheron has signed the charter of the independent winegrowers to ensure that the highest standards of winemaking are always upheld, that the finest traditions are preserved and respected and that the culture and pleasure of their wines is shared whenever possible.
Domaine Du P'tit Paradis
The quality of the wines produced at P'tit Paradis matches the quality of the views: they are some of the finest that Beaujolais has to offer. Not the light, ephemeral offerings of those grown on the plain, but wines packed with ripe fruit flavours, notes of exotic spice and ripe tannins that are both fun to drink in their youth and a pleasure to enjoy as they age. If you've never tasted Beaujolais before or if you are yet to be charmed by the allure of Gamay, try the wines of P'tit Paradis and we're certain that you'll fall in love with them.
Farming 12 hectares of vines mostly in Chassagne-Montrachet, with some parcels in Volnay and Pommard, Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard's excellent reputation is based upon the especially high quality of its white wines. However, Fontaine-Gagnard also produces very lovely reds which are not only beautifully pure expressions of Pinot Noir but which are also very attractively priced. To make wines of such exceptional richness, finesse, and mineral intensity, organic methods are used wherever possible and the use of oak is judicious to allow for the purest embodiments of the estate's respective terroirs.
In 1981, he bought his first parcel of land, Clos De Cuminailles, before establishing his business in Malleval six years later. He created the Madeloc estate in Banyuls-sur-Mer in 2002, followed by the Cottebrune estate in Faugères five years after. Today, Pierre manages a total of 77 hectares.
In 1979, Pascale married Pierre and became a primary school teacher. She raised their three children as carefully as a vintner watches over his wines, keeping them out of harm's way. Up until 2001, she worked for the French Education Department, teaching children with learning difficulties or health problems. During the holidays, she would help out in the vineyards. In 2001, she decided to become actively involved in the management of the family's wine estates.
The next generation of Gaillards are similarly dedicated. One day when she was a child, daughter Jeanne was punished and, as a result, was obliged to go work in the vineyard. This experience triggered a passion for wine! She ended up studying sales and winegrowing in Beaune, and gained valuable work experience first at an estate in Burgundy and then at a winery in California. In 2008, when she was 24 years old, she acquired the 5 hectares of vineyards in the Crozes-Hermitage appellation and the 8 hectares in the Collines Rhodaniennes production zone that make up her eponymous estate.
Her sister, Élise, was born in 1986 and had already tasted a drop of Condrieu before her first birthday! During her childhood she showed a keen interest in wine, but was never drawn to the vineyards. However, in 2003, she began her tertiary studies in Paris but soon found herself feeling homesick for the countryside and for her family. In 2006, she completed a Graduate Diploma in Agricultural Engineering, renewing her links with the vineyards and the environment before spending 2007 and 2008 working in California, Wisconsin, Italy, Romania, Greece and Chile. Upon her return in 2009, it was logical that Élise was placed in charge of Domaine Madeloc.
At the age of four, Pierre-Antoine received his first tractor under the Christmas tree as a gift from Santa, and it wasn’t long until he decided to plant his first vine in front of the cellar. In 2010, he passed a Winegrowing Diploma in Burgundy and then set off for New Zealand to take part in the grape harvest in 2011. He worked there up until the Rugby World Cup and then returned to the fold.
Pierre Gaillard's vines are situated on steep slopes plunging down towards the Rhône. At Malleval, the earth is held together by stone-walled terraces. Here, his Côte-Rôtie fully expresses the decomposing schist that the vines grow in, whereas the Saint-Joseph, Condrieu and Côtes-du-Rhône wines reflect their altered granite soil.
Cottebrune’s steep hillside vineyards are at altitude, with the Cevennes in the background and a panorama extending from the Pyrenees through to Montpellier. The vines are surrounded by scrubland and forests and the wines derive their typical characteristics from the soil, essentially made up of brown schist.
At Madeloc, the parcels of vines are situated on terraces overlooking the sea. These terraces are surrounded by canals to evacuate any excess water. The estate’s Banyuls and Collioure offerings adopt the characteristics offered by quartz schist, mica-schist, slate and pelites.
Environmentally friendly grape growing techniques are implemented on the three estates. The use of organic fertilisers is adjusted to the vineyard's needs. A high planting density allows the roots to develop and helps to regulate the yield. The soils are tilled to allow the roots to grow deep into the soil in order for the vine to benefit from the terroir's natural resources.
Pierre tries to ensure that the phenolic maturity of the grapes is reached around the same time as their alcoholic maturity. The implementation of leaf-fining and green harvesting increases the exposure of the leaves to the sunlight, thereby directly influencing the wines' structure and colour. The wines must express clear and precise fruity aromas, with a profound colour and refined tannins.
At all three of the Gaillard family estates, the grapes are hand picked, optimal hygiene and controlled temperatures are used during fermentation and individual grape varieties and individual parcels of vines are vinified separately. Cold macerations are used both for the reds and the whites, as well as a degree of aeration to extract delicate and pure aromas. Where oak is used, it is employed early in the winemaking process so that its flavours are well integrated and they do not mask the characteristics of the grapes and the terroir.
The wines of Domaine Gaillard are great examples of all that is good in the northern Rhône Valley, offering excellent quality and showing off their distinct terroir and varietal typicity alike.
Domaine Georges Roumier
The nucleus of Domaine Georges Roumier lies in the dowry of Geneviève Quanquin, who married Georges Roumier in 1924. Georges, who was born in 1898, came from Dun-Les-Places, in the Charollais cattle country near Saulieu. When he arrived in Chambolle he took over the Quanquin family vineyards, enlarged the exploitation by taking on a small part of Musigny en métayage (the cultivation of land for a proprietor by one who receives a proportion of the produce, as a kind of sharecropping) and buying additional land in the commune, and set up on his own, independent of his parents-in-law, who also had a négociant business. (This ceased to exist after the Second World War.)
The domaine was further enlarged in the 1950s. More Bonnes Mares, from the Domaine Belorgey, arrived in 1952. Two parcels of Clos Vougeot were added in the same year. And, in 1953, the 2.5ha monopoly of the premier cru Clos de la Bussière in Morey-Saint-Denis was acquired from the Bettenfeld family. In the 1930s this parcel had belonged to the Graillet estate, the residue of which was subsequently to form the base of the Domaine Dujac.
Georges and Geneviève Roumier had seven children, five of them boys, and he must have been a bit of a martinet, not willing to let go of the reins. In 1955, Alain, the eldest son, left to take up the position of régisseur for the neighbouring De Vogüé domaine. Another son, Paul, became a courtier. Jean-Marie, the third son, had started playing a part in the domaine in 1954 and eventually took over when his father retired in 1961 (Georges died in 1965). In this year, wishing to keep the domaine intact, the brothers formed a limited company for their inheritance, which together with the sisters' holdings, was rented to the domaine. When he retired from De Vogüé, Alain retrieved his share, these vineyards now being exploited separately by the widow of his son Hervé and his other son Laurent.
Today the winemaker at the Domaine Georges Roumier is the 58 year old Christophe, son of Jean-Marie. Christophe Roumier was born in 1958, studied oenology at Dijon University, did a stage at the excellent Cairanne co-operative in the Côtes du Rhône in 1980, and joined his father the year after. The wines were fine in Georges and Jean-Marie's time. They have reached even greater heights under the aegis of Christophe.
In more recent times there have been three significant additions to the Roumier portfolio. In 1977, when the Thomas-Bassot domaine was being sold, a substantial slice of Ruchottes-Chambertin came on the market. Two parcels were quickly snapped up by Charles Rousseau and Dr. Georges Mugneret. The third was acquired by a businessman and oenophile from Rouen, one Michel Bonnefond. At Rousseau's suggestion Bonnefond entered into a métayage arrangement with the Roumiers, and Christophe now gets two thirds of the yield of this 0.54ha parcel.
In the following year, Jean-Marie Roumier finally managed to buy the parcel of Musigny, just under one tenth of a hectare (it only produces a cask and a half) which the family had been share-cropping since the 1920s.
Seven years later, in 1984, a French merchant in Lausanne, Jean-Pierre Mathieu, bought a small section (0.27ha) of Mazoyères-Chambertin. This again is rented en métayage to Christophe Roumier. The financial arrangements are a little different here, and Roumier only gets half of the crop, which, like most Mazoyères, is labelled as Charmes, a name easier to pronounce and sell.
Somewhat earlier than this, back in 1968, Christophe's mother, Odile Ponnelle, bought a parcel of fallow land on the Pernand-Vergelesses side of Corton-Charlemagne, half-way down the slope from the Bois de Corton. The land was cleared and replanted, the first vintage being 1974. It is delicious, but there is little of it: three pièces (228L barrels) from 0.2ha.
The heart of the 12 hectare Roumier domaine, as always, lies in Chambolle-Musigny. A number of parcels in the village, totalling almost four hectares, produce a splendid village wine. There are originally six cuvées of this, eventually blended together, and within this wine will be the yield of some old vines of Pinot Beurot, a sort of Pinot Gris, the residue of the old days when a few white vines were planted in with the red in nearly every Burgundian climat to add balance and complexity to the wine.
Christophe Roumier is fortunate to own vines in the three most famous premiers crus in the commune: Les Cras, and, since 2005, when it was first separated from the village wine, Les Combottes; 1.76ha and 0.27ha respectively.
On the other side of the village, just under the northern end of Le Musigny, there is 0.4ha of Amoureuses, Chambolle's finest premier cru. This plot was planted in three stages, in 1954, 1966 and 1971. The vines in the parcel of Musigny itself, lying nearby, date from 1934.
Roumier's most important wine, though, is not this Musigny, or not always, but the Bonnes-Mares. (A pièce and a half is difficult to vinify. And, though Christophe considers Musigny in principle the grandest grand cru in the Côte D'Or, he finds the results of his Musigny less regular). There are four parcels of Bonnes-Mares, all in the Chambolle part of this grand cru, totalling 1.45ha.
There are two distinct soil types in Bonnes-Mares. At the Morey end the soil is terres rouges. But, coming down the slope in a diagonal line from above the Clos de Tart and continuing south towards Chambolle, the soil changes to terres blanches (if you look carefully you will see a large quantity of small fossilised oysters) and this makes up most of the climat. Three of Christophe Roumier's parcels are terres blanches, one terres rouges. He normally vinifies them separately and blends them together afterwards. What is the difference? The terres rouges gives the power, the backbone, the concentration, says Christophe. Wine from the terres blanches is more spiritual. From here we get the finesse, the intensity, the definition. But a blend is yet greater the sum of the parts.
Below the northern, Morey, end of the vineyard and the Clos de Tart, the land sinks into a hollow as it comes down the slope (this is the premier cru of Ruchots) and then rises up a little. Here we find the enclosed vineyard of Bussière. In a house in the middle lives Christophe's mother, Jean-Marie Roumier having died in 2002.
"I make wines from terroir, which expresses itself through Pinot Noir.," says Christophe Roumier, who today runs the domaine with the assisitance of his sister Delphine. (There are two other sisters). There is a lot more to fine wine than merely the variety it is made from, he will point out. Roumier sees his role as an intermediary, as a facilitator. The vigneron's duty is to allow the vines to produce fruit which, when vinified, will be unmistakably typical of its origins. The winemaker's job is to effect this translation from fruit into wine. But it is a question of control rather than creativity. The creation is being done by the vine, by its location, by mother nature: not by man.
Along with most of the progressives in the region, Christophe Roumier has turned his back on weedkilling sprays, preferring to plough the vines. This is sometimes difficult where a vineyard has not been cultivated for some time, as important roots may be cut in the process. But an ancillary benefit, where it is done, is that the roots are encouraged to penetrate deeper.
The average age of the vines in the Roumier domaine is high, but they don't make a fetish of it. Once a parcel has reached, say, 50 years old, individual vines are not replaced as they die off. So eventually, as fifteen years ago in one part of their Bonnes Mares, the whole parcel can be cleared, the land disinfected against viral contamination, and eventually replanted. At first the young vines are Cordon trained, when their youthful vigour has died down this is replaced by the traditional Guyot method.
Pruning is severe, and the harvest is further contained by an elimination of excess buds and shoots during the spring. This is much more effective, says Christophe, than a green harvest later in the season. By then it is too late, he maintains, though he does it to thin out late developing bunches or if there are two adjoining, which might give rise to rot. He has no time for those who systematically green harvest every year. It shows they didn't restrict the crop properly in the first place. This discipline is reflected in the Roumier harvest: 41 hectolitres per hectare in village wine, 34 in premier cru, 30 in grand cru in the last big vintage: 2000. This is the key, says Christophe, to the production of great wine.
The next part of the jigsaw is the quality of the fruit. Trials have convinced Christophe that the ratio of leaves to fruit, and their exposure, is critical. So he prefers a large canopy, trained a little higher than some, at least during the early part of the season. It is also important, he believes, to eliminate the second generation of fruit, the verjus.
There is a careful triage, both in the vineyard and later when the fruit arrives in the cuverie up at the top of the village, but a flexible attitude to the quantity of the stems which are kept. The Bourgogne Rouge and the village Chambolle are usually destemmed. For the rest it depends very much on the vintage, Christophe not deciding until the harvest begins. From 20 to 50 percent of the stems are normally retained. The bigger the wine and the more concentrated the harvest the higher the amount tends to be. The wine is vinified in open top wooden, concrete or closed stainless steel vats. The first two materials are preferable, says Christophe, for the heat generated by the fermentation is slower to dissipate.
Fermentations at Domaine Georges Roumier begin slowly, so there is always a brief period of pre-fermentation maceration. Thereafter, Christophe likes to prolong the extraction, maintaining the temperature just under 30°C, for as long as possible. The temperature level is one of the winemaker's most important points of intervention, Christophe believes. It should not go too high, for you begin to lose the subtleties of the aromas above 33°C.
As you would expect from the Roumier approach to terroir, this is a domaine which does not approve of a lot of new oak. Thirty percent is about maximum. "I want to taste the wine, not the cask," says Christophe, pointing out that new wood is the best mask for wine faults. The wine is kept on its lees until racking the following September. Until 1993 the wines were fined with one egg white only per pièce, But no longer, and it is not filtered either. The 2006 village wine was bottled after 15 or 16 months, but normally bottling takes place later, between February and May of the following year.
The Roumier range begins with the Corton-Charlemagne. The vines are now of a respectable age, and since 1985, at the very least, have been producing wine of really top quality, though Christophe is not a fan of his 2002.
The reds are more muscular than most: full, virile, austere, made to last; not necessarily wines which sing in their youth. Time is required, a decade for the best wines in the best vintages. The series begins with a Bourgogne Rouge (2ha). This is a sturdy example, but none the worse for that, even in 1997 it had good structure and good acidity. The village Chambolle follows next. It is a bigger wine than those of Ghislaine Barthod or De Vogûé, and it takes longer to open out. But there is no lack of finesse, no lack of Chambolle fragrance. The Morey-Saint-Denis Clos de la Bussière is firmer and chunkier. It used to have a touch of the rustic about it, but this has been far less noticeable in the last decade. Again, it lasts well.
You will usually be offered, because winemakers normally giving you the wines to taste in their order of preference, the Chambolle-Musigny Combettes and the Cras before the Amoureuses. The former is plump, ripe and full of charm, and the latter magnificent in its austerity: really classy. The Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses, though, is delicious. Here we really do find distinction and class, as well as the supreme fragrance of the commune. It is a fitting example of the village's greatest premier cru. In Roumier's hands clearly a wine of grand cru quality.
The next two wines in the range are from the climats in Gevrey that Christophe farms en métayage, the Charmes and the Ruchottes. The latter is clearly finer than the former. Christophe suggests that the wine benefits, like in its own way that of the Mesdames Mugnerets, from the fact that it is made and matured in a "foreign" i.e. in his case Chambolle, cellar, and can take up some of these Chambolle nuances. Here we have intensity as well as weight and richness, the lush flamboyance of Gevrey-Chambertin, and all the finesse you would expect in top quality Burgundy.
The Bonnes-Mares, by contrast, is always much more closed-in; somewhat solid at the outset, much less expressive. It seems to go through more of an adolescent phase, and it is only on the finish - but of course, when a wine is young, the finish is what you should concentrate on - that you can see the breed, the complexity and the depth. Is this Burgundy's best Bonnes-Mares? It needs at least a decade to come round.
When the Musigny is good, and it usually is, it is brilliant. It has less backbone than the Bonnes-Mares, less density. But it can be equally backward, needing just as much time to come round. Sometimes the Bonnes-Mares has more concentration and a better balance. Sometimes, the reverse is the case. It is a pity there is so little of it.
What does Christophe Roumier have to say about Chambolle and his wines? "Yes. Chambolle is the most elegant wine of the Côte. There is nothing original about that statement. But for me the wines are also the most mineral. There is a purity, a fruit, an elegance and a distinction which come in large part from the extra amount of limestone in our soil, and perhaps the marginally higher altitude. I try to make my wines express this."
In sum, this is one of Burgundy's greatest domaines and Christophe Roumier is one of its most intelligent and knowledgeable winemakers. The combination of the two produces magic.
From an article written by Clive Coates MW.
Domaine Horgelus was created in 1978 by Joseph Le Menn. Breton by origin, he was attracted by the charm of the South West, its gastronomy and its art of living. The estate includes 66 hectares of vineyard and over 30 hectares of woods and meadows. It is now run by Yoan Le Menn, Joseph's son. In 2004, Yoan, at the tender age of 16, succeeded in becoming individual French Fly Fishing Champion for the first time. He subsequently went on to capture the trophy in 2005 and again in 2006. This competitive aspect of his character and the search for excellence that goes with it make him such a driven and competent winemaker.
Yoan is part of a generation of young winemakers who instinctively understands how to combine the traditional and the modern facets of his craft. He is dedicated to preserving the fresh, fruity aromas of his wines by preventing any form of oxidation during vinification. It is for this reason that the grapes are harvested in the cool of the early morning - from 3 to 11am - and the carbon dioxide generated during the alcoholic fermentation is retained to protect the newly pressed juice from oxygen. Every aspect of his winemaking is designed to preserve the vibrancy and the fruit characters of his wines.
Domaine Hubert Brochard
After their son Henry and his wife Thérèse inherited the estate a few years later, they invested in a small tractor that was incredibly modern for the time. However, he continued to use traditional methods that his parents had taught him. In turn, Thérèse and Henry were able to share their passion with three of their children, Daniel, Jean-Francois and Benoit. Today, Daniel is in charge of managing the family farm; Jean-Francois is responsible for the vineyards and Benoit, the cellar master, is responsible for all winemaking and bottling.
Since 1977, the three brothers have added new vineyards in Chavignol and around Sancerre to their parents’ holdings and they now cultivate about 60 hectares of vines in the Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Vin de Pays du Val de Loire appellations. As was the case with their parents’ tractor, the boys were also able to link traditional grape growing and modern winemaking technology by building a brand new cellar equipped with thermo-regulated stainless steel tanks, pneumatic presses, a stemmer and various other materials in 1992.
Recently, another new generation has entered the scene. Caroline and Anne-Sophie, Daniel’s daughters, have brought their youth and dynamism into the family business. After several years of experience in the world of catering management, Caroline now holds the post of commercial and communication manager. Anne-Sophie is an oenologist and brings with her experience of winemaking in the vineyards of Burgundy, Bordeaux and New Zealand.
The estate is composed of 46 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and 16 hectares of Pinot Noir, and the vines have an average age of 30 to 50 years. The vineyards are spread in several parcels over the communes of Chavignol, Sancerre, Sainte Gemme, Sancerre, Ménétréol, Saint-Satur and Thauvenay and they are mainly planted on soils of limestone, flint and clay. Work in the vineyards proceeds according to the needs of these soils, with the use of any treatments kept to an absolute minimum out of respect for nature and the environment. Practices such as enherbement (grass covering the ground between the rows of vines) are used on some plots to lower yields and to fight against soil erosion.
It is with passion, tradition and modernity that the Brochard family continues to work in the footsteps of their ancestors.
Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron
He still remembers a lecture given one day by Claude Bourguignon, a specialist in the microbiology and in the flora and fauna of soils. The die was cast and the Meuniers decided to go organic. In order fully to respect the character of each terroir, they have chosen to use only natural products to treat their vines and have done so since 1990.
The domaine has eight hectares of vines, in twelve differnet Côte De Nuits appellations. These include prestigious Chambolle-Musigny and Vosne-Romanée Premiers Crus, and Clos De Vougeot and Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grands Crus. Alain Meunier takes great pride in his vines and he loves to show them to visitors. Not a voluble talker, he walks along the rows and says almost timidly: "There is life in there, you can see it." He points out the parcel of Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru because, at eighty years old, it is the oldest in the domaine.
Since 2003, Alain has ploughed this and certain other parcels by horse to avoid soil compaction and to encourage aeration and microbiologic life. This is a slow and costly job, which requires patience and precision but which has the utmost respect for the soil. If the results are as good as he expects, he will extend the practice to other parcels.
Domaine Jean-Marc Bouley
Thomas’ father, Jean-Marc, took over the domaine in 1974 and he set about significantly expanded the holdings, buying choice parcels in Volnay and Pommard and he immediately attained international acclaim for his exciting, dramatic Pinot Noirs. He was joined by his son Thomas in 2002, and in working together they have pushed their estate a large step forward. His father retired in 2012, but today Thomas Bouley makes wines from 11 different appellations, aiming for maximum extraction of colour, flavour and aroma to yield wines that are lushly fruity, yet balanced and complex.
The 2002 vintage marked a turning point at the domaine, as several positive, long-planned developments happily coincided with a superb vintage. Thomas brought with him a new vision of quality, influenced in part by his experiences in California and New Zealand. Together, the Bouleys continued their expert work in the vineyards to enhance the quality of grapes produced by their mature vines. Bouley’s soils are healthier than ever as they have now not been treated with chemical products for over 7 years. The pruning and training of the vines has been adapted to reduce yields to 6-8 bunches per vine, each best placed to enhance its exposure to sun and ventilation. Bouley has reduced the yield of his vines naturally by eliminating the use of fertiliser, encouraging grass to grow between the rows, plowing regularly, and trimming the late season growth of the vines, thereby diminishing the amount of resources available in the plants for the production of grapes. The result is riper and naturally healthier fruit at harvest time.
Also starting with the 2002 vintage, Bouley Père et Fils started to work in their newly-renovated and expanded cellar (a few rows of the Clos de la Cave were sacrificed to make room for the expansion). Improved working conditions and humidity control made for more vivid, pure wines. Finally, Bouley increased the number of new oak casks to 30-70%, depending on the wine and the vintage.
The results are truly brilliant, marking a new level of excellence chez Bouley. Jean-Marc’s goal, when he began with 2 hectares in 1974, has now been attained: to bring his estate to the level of the very best in Volnay and Pommard.
Domaine Lucien Boillot
Pierre inherited very old vines from his father in the Côtes de Nuits, and from his great-grandfather Henri Boillot, who was originally from Volnay, in the Côtes de Beaune. Many of his vineyards are under-appreciated treasures: Volnay Les Angles, originally classified as one of the top premier cru sites in Volnay in the 19th century; Pommard Croix Noires right below Rugiens, Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cherbaudes, right next to Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru; and Gevrey-Chambertin Les Corbeaux right next to Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru. Every wine is a classic representation of its appellation, from Volnay and Pommard to Gevrey and Nuits-Saint-Georges. Pierre’s work in the cellars is geared towards transparent, terroir-driven wines of purity and finesse. However, he has nothing against a degree of rich, plump, lusciousness in his red wines.
“We have great terroir in the Languedoc, but we are young - it took 1,000 years for regions like Burgundy to become what they are today. We in the Languedoc should make good wines that are good value as well,” Lafon says. When he and Legros bought the estate in 1999, it was a rundown collection of vineyards planted with a multitude of grape varieties; its former owner had planted a broad spectrum of varities to see which grapes would work best there. Today, Lafon has revitalised the estate and now manages 104 acres planted with 13 different varieties. These include the white Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Muscat, and for red wine Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault, as well as Tempranillo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. All are farmed organically. Lafon shies away from the use of new oak barrels at Domaine Magellan because he values the pure fruit flavours that his grapes provide.
Domaine Magellan takes its name from the small town of Magalas, north of Beziers, where the winery is located. While Lafon’s wines carry the Vin de Pays moniker because his vineyards lie outside officially preferred real estate such as the Coteaux du Languedoc, his quality is on par with that of some of the best Coteaux estates.
Domaine Pascal Prunier-Bonheur
By combining tradition and modernity Pascal wants to offer "a genuine product, the result of hard work without pretense and without excessive ambition." The result is a selection of high quality wines at very reasonable prices. Prunier-Bonheur is not the type of estate to rest upon its laurels, adding a negociant business to its winemaking arm in 2002, and a new winery has been operational since 2008. Domaine Pascal Prunier-Bonheur is still adding a few hectares of vineyards to its holdings when possible, the most recent being a plot of Meursault, a beautiful parcel of Auxey-Duresses red and a new premier cru, Auxey-Duresses Val.
Domaine Rapet Père Et Fils
The wines of Pernand-Vergelesses have great individuality and, at Domaine Rapet, a full spectrum can be tasted. The white wines are fresh and lively with delicious citrus and floral notes. As you'd expect, the premiers crus give more power on the palate and of these vineyards Sous Frétille is perhaps regarded as the best. That is, of course, if you don't count the grand cru Corton Charlemagne vineyard that produces stunning, long-lived wines that age for decades in the finest vintages.
The finely fleshed red wines of Domaine Rapet are quite simply stunning and offer great value. The premier cru of Les Vergelesses backs onto the appellation of Savigny-Lès-Beaune and seems to bear a similar charm, whilst also benefitting from a distict minerality beneath the bright berry fruit and fine tannins. The grand cru of Corton Les Pougeots is big and structured, and it generally needs a little time to soften and become rounded. But it's well worth the wait, for Vincent's hands always craft a superb wine that is a sensational food partner when mature.
Domaine Tollot-Beaut Et Fils
Founded in the 1880s, Nathalie Tollot is the fifth generation of her family to run the domaine. Tollot-Beaut originally only owned vineyards in Chorey, although successive generations made small acquisitions in Savigny, Aloxe and Beaune e.g. Corton Bressandes in the 1930s, Savigny Champs-Chevrey in the 1950s and, most recently, their new monopole Chorey-Lès-Beaune Pièce du Chapitre.
Each of their vineyards is treated individually. Domaine Tollot-Beaut chooses to plow between the rows of vines to aerate the soil and to push a layer of soil over the feet of the vines to protect them from the winter cold. No fertilisers are used and a green harvest is usually performed in the summer to limit yields. The grapes are harvested manually, parcel by parcel as dictated by their ripeness. Tollot-Beaut concentrates its work in the vineyard to get the best grapes, thereafter handling them as little as possible.
Much of the depth and appeal of the wines at Tollot-Beaut can be attributed to the high proportions of old vine Pinot Fin, a very old and delicate strain of Pinot Noir widely considered to be one of the most desirable for the stunning purity of its fruit. More recently, the domaine has employed a nursery to develop clones of this highly sought after Pinot Noir vine.
Domaine Tollot-Beaut’s use of oak was historically known as being rather on the generous side, but nowadays it is far more moderate. Gone are the overt spicy, toasty flavours, instead the oak is used as judicious seasoning to boost the palate and to make the fruit characters shine. Tollot-Beaut’s wines spend approximately 16-18 months in oak, about 20% of which is new for villages wines increasing to around 60% for the grands crus.
The wines of Tollot-Beaut are some of the best we taste every vintage. Approachable, pure and fresh yet opulent and very ageworthy, they epitomize everything that we love about Pinot Noir and about great red Burgundy.
After studying oenology at university and after spending time working at other wineries both in France and abroad, Guillaume Vrignaud returned home in 1999 and gradually assumed responsibility for winemaking and oversaw the expansion of the estate’s production facilities. Under his auspices, the domain now bottles and sells over half of its entire production.
The 19 hectare Domaine Vrignaud is located in the village of Fontenay-Près-Chablis, in the middle of the Premier Cru Fourchaume vineyards. It is a typical Chablisien village, founded in 1130 by the Commanderie of the Templars, and its 12th century church is the oldest in area.
Most of Domaine Vrignaud’s vines are located in and around the commune of Fontenay-Près-Chablis, except for those in the premier cru Mont De Milieu vineyard, situated in the commune of Fleys. Vines are planted at a density of 5,600 per hectare, and they are trained using the double Guyot system. Each plot is worked individually, and in the flatter vineyards ryegrass and bluegrass are planted in between two of every nine rows of vines to reduce soil compaction, to facilitate the passage of the tractor and to reduce soil erosion. Every non-grassed row is ploughed to force the vines to push their roots ever deeper into the Kimmeridgean marl, supplying the characteristic minerality of Vrignaud’s Chablis.
In the more steeply sloping plots, around the middle of May winter cereals are planted between the rows of vines to fight against soil erosion, to assist in the recovery of the soil’s microbial life and to reduce the use of chemical weedkillers.
The Vrignauds are passionate about sustainable viticulture and the minimal use of chemicals in their vineyards. No fertilisers have been used for over 20 years and an annual soil analysis is performed to determine any possible deficiencies the vines may face. Their efforts to maximise the microbial life of the soil are focused upon returning life to the vineyards, enabling them to make the best possible wines, naturally. Recently, they have been experimenting with alternative farming methods, using only minerals and plant-based treatments. They have been certified organic since 2013.
Every parcel of vines is harvested and vinified separately to fully express the potential of each different plot of land. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. In 2008, the vat room was rearranged to allow for the installation of new presses at the winery. Constant refinement of their techniques has resulted in wines that are refined and long lived that can also be enjoyed in their youth. The wines from Domaine Vrignaud are expressive, elegant, refined and simply exude all the classic characteristics that have made Chablis so sought after over the years.
With over fifteen years experience in vineyards all over Spain and an academic background in agronomical engineering and oenologist studies, Enrique decided, with Elisa, to start Domaines Lupier using one of the grapes they both love: Garnacha. Elisa holds a degree in Economics and Business Administration and an MBA from the IESE Business School, and has more than 12 years experience in the wine sector.
Four years ago they started rescuing small parcels of very old Grenache for Domaines Lupier and now they have 27 different parcels with vines going back to over 100 years. At 400 to 750 meters above sea level, the climate is relatively cool and the various soils and exposures give grapes that offer a wide flavour spectrum for the production of two simply stunning wines.
From the very beginning, in keeping with the spirit of their project, Enrique and Elisa decided to build Domaines Lupier in the vicinity of their vines. Thus, they acquired and renovated an old 19th century manor house, where they built a small cellar that accommodates small vats of 3,500 and 5,500 litres and with the capacity for 50,000 bottles, and equipped with the latest technology. Ageing takes place in fine French oak barrels and is constantly kept under close supervision.
Dominio De Eguren
The Dominio De Eguren wines are made with the same skill and concern for the highest quality as their impressive Sierra Cantabria, Señorío De San Vicente, Viñedos De Páganos and Teso La Monja wines with the advantage of offering outstanding value for money. Most of the grapes for these Dominio De Eguren wines come from the family's own vineyards, but some grapes are grown under contract to supply the quantity of wine required. Although these wines are labelled under the local appellation rather than anything grander, they are all proof that good wine needn't have a hefty price tag.
Dominio Romano focusses on the defining grape variety of Ribera Del Duero: Tinto Fino, a Tempranillo clone that has over many years adapted itself to the extreme climate and sandy soil of the region. Genetically speaking Tinto Fino and Tempranillo are the same grape variety, but at Dominio Romano they have observed significant differences between the two. Aside from differences in the shapes of their leaves and branches, Dominio Romano's Tinto Fino grapes are much smaller than Tempranillo and the grapes are more widely spaced on their bunches, allowing for better ventilation. As a result, the yield is much lower and the berries are more compact giving a greater concentration of phenolic compounds.
Dominio Romano owns a few hectares of old Tinto Fino vineyards - two small parcels of vines situated close to the winery - but they also buy grapes from small, local winegrowers who share their philosophy and who treat their vineyards as if they were a garden. The old vines are bush trained and free standing, and their deep roots do not require irrigation during the warm, dry summers. They grow very close to the soil in order to gain protection from the severe winter frosts. Out of respect for the environment, both the estate's vineyards and those of their partner growers are farmed organically, without the use of herbicides or pesticides.
In pursuit of the finest expression of their terroir, the winemaking techniques employed at Dominio Romano differ from those used at other estates. At other estates, adherence to the Ribera Del Duero requirements for the Crianza and Reserva wine categories can often lead to wines that are overly oaky or lacking in fruit. Techniques such as pre-fermentation skin maceration or ageing in larger 400 litre barrels to permit better oak integration and balance exclude these wines from such classification, but don't let such technicalities deter you from trying them. These are majestic wines that deliver the true flavours of their region and their grape variety.
Why is Elena's name on the label if it is her husband's family's estate? Werner Walch is alive and well and still running his part of the winery in his own way, using the long established Wilhelm Walch brand. Werner makes his wines in the manner he was taught when he took over the family business aged 19, after the death of his father. Using a combination of his own grapes and some purchased grapes, he makes good volumes of wine fermented and aged in stainless steel that sells at extremely competitive prices for its quality. He and Elena share his parents' ancestral home, his family's winery and its complement of talented staff.
Elena met Werner through mutual friends in the city of Bolzano, where they were both living. With a population of just 100,000, Elena had already made herself known by opening her own architectural studio rather than going to work for somebody else. "This was very unusual for an architect then, especially a woman," she said. "I was building houses for farmers and telling them what to do. Their view was very narrow."
Elena was 35, Wilhelm 34, when they married and it's worth noting that despite his family's huge tracts of land he wasn't necessarily a great catch. The Italian wine industry was not in the rudest health in 1985, particularly in the north where they made mostly indifferent white wines.
Elena was a sophisticated woman born and raised in Milan, now going to live on a farm, and she had big ideas from the time she arrived in the Walch home. She loved the building, with its beautifully designed ceilings and its ancient heating system that required the windows to be thrown open to let all of the smoke out, and she loved the winery with its huge, intricately carved casks. Despite having no experience of the wine business, on her travels she had noticed that people in other countries were beginning to take wine more seriously rather than just buying a carafe of local white, as was still common in Bolzano. This led her to believe that hand-crafted, artisanal wines were the future although her husband, the expert, disagreed.
As a result, Elena and Werner set up separate winery systems under the same roof and they split their grape harvest between them. Despite this vinous divorce, in life they are still happily married and have two daughters who grew up in rooms right above the fermenting grapes. No wonder both girls work at the winery today.
Elena makes around 40,000 cases of wine per year so she's not a small producer, but her husband makes substantially more, buying grapes from 100 different farmers as well as using his own. Elena produces two ranges of wine: the delicious and more forward Selezione range and the even more impressive single vineyard wines from Werner's properties of Castel Ringberg and Kastelaz. One of the biggest differences between Elena's wines and those of her husband is that she uses oak barriques for her "cru" white wines, ageing about 15% of the wine in them to give a rounder, firmer mouthfeel.
She also made big changes in the sections of the vineyards that she uses, and she says that this was the hardest change to convince her husband to do. She increased the density of planting and decreased the yields. "I have 2.5 times the number of vines but fewer grapes," she says. "Now everyone is planting this way, but thirty years ago it was unusual. It took quite a long time for people to understand it was better to be known for the quality rather than the quantity of your wine."
She does wonder what Werner's great-grandfather, who founded the winery in 1869, would think about her running her own show. "Maybe he would be shocked. Maybe he would be proud," she says. "The world is different now." Despite all of her work, in one significant fashion the male-dominant tradition continues at the winery. The huge, carved, wooden casks that Elena loves have initials on them for the men who run the company. There is one with "WW" on it for Werner, but no cask with the initials "EW" upon it. Elena says that even though their daughters will run both wineries some day they will not, in her lifetime, get their initials on a cask. Instead, they'll have to produce a male heir. "I think I must pay some respect to their great-grandfather," Elena says. After all, she's probably making better wines than Wilhelm Walch ever imagined possible.
The philosophy of the Elena Walch estate is dedicated to its terroir – the idea that wines must be the individual expression of their soil, climate and cultivation in the vineyard – and that this must be maintained in a sustainable manner for subsequent generations. Her firm belief that the quality of wine is created in the vineyard requires uncompromising work, taking into account the individual nature of each vineyard. With 55 hectares in cultivation, including the two top vineyards Castel Ringberg in Caldaro and Kastelaz in Tramin, Elena Walch belongs amongst the most important protagonists of Alto Adige winemaking.
The wines of Elena Walch show character, elegance and great personality, reflecting the highest standards of winemaking. The superb climate and the excellent location of the vineyards produce fresh and fruity white wines as well as concentrated and velvety red wines.
Ernie Els Wines
Louis Strydom is the man who crafts the wines at Ernie Els Wines and, ever since the first vintage in 2000, he has been regarded as one of the finest winemakers in the Cape. Ernie's love of Bordeaux is reflected in the choice of grape varieties planted and the wines produced at his estate, but they are all stamped with the unique hallmark of South Africa.
Escarpment Vineyard was established in 1998 as a joint business venture between Robert & Mem Kirby (of Australia’s Village Roadshow) and Larry & Sue McKenna. Collectively, these four directors bring to Escarpment a world of experience, skill and understanding to the nurturing and making of fine, deliciously sublime wine. It goes without saying the impetus behind establishing this vineyard came from the four’s deep love for Pinot Noir. Meeting by chance in 1998 through Dr Richard Smith, Larry and Robert quickly hit it off and realised they had more than a love for the grape in common. Serious talk about establishing a definitive New World vineyard began in earnest even then and the "idea whose time has come" has resulted in one of the most significant vineyard developments in the New Zealand district of Martinborough.
Making the decision to establish their own vineyard was one thing, finding the special piece of land that offered the essential ingredients required for optimal grape growing and wine making was another. Although they considered other wine growing areas in New Zealand, Larry and Sue kept coming back to the Martinborough area. They knew the area intimately having grown grapes and made wine there for years. They were convinced that Martinbrough offered the rich mix of elements they required to grow and make fine New World wine, particularly their Pinots.
They soon discovered the Te Muna river terraces on the other side of the hill and knew this was it for them! Basically being an extension of Martinborough’s famed terrace land, the Te Muna site offered all the right attributes, with land a-plenty for their purposes. Larry and Sue firmly believe the Te Muna valley is the future of Martinborough. Evidence for this is seen in the range of new vineyards being established in the area, including the much talked about Craggy Range, whose planting alone will double the current output of Martinborough.
“Te Muna”, means "secret" or "special place", and that is exactly how the people at Escarpment feel about the land and what it means to live, grow and make wine there. Deciding upon the vineyard’s name took far more soul searching. Ideas were bandied about for weeks on end, creating confusion rather than clarity! It wasn’t until Robert’s brother in law, David Glass, went out walking along the eastern boundary of the property one dusky evening that the inspiration came to him in a flash.
Looking out from this point all he could see was the expansive kilometre-long escarpment dropping sharply down to the river for a further 30m (it is so steep it can only just be walked up, and such daring activity is certainly not recommended after sampling the spoils of the vines when visiting!). And so the idea for Escarpment was conceived. Standing at this point you are treated to the most spectacular views of the surrounding country and it is here the vineyard buildings will eventually rest, soaking in the inspiring vista from dawn to dusk.
A specially designed energy efficient winery is partially complete at Te Muna Road. Stage one, an underground barrel room was completed in 2003. This room gives natural humidity and temperature control. When the fermentation room is built above this barrel room they will be able to gravity feed all fruit and wine processing. This allows the gentlest handling of fruit and of the young wines. The aim is to complete all processes without the use of pumps as the resulting wines are softer and more rounded. When both rooms are complete, they will be able to produce wine with a minimum of input, keeping their carbon footprint as small as possible. The fruit receival/fermentation building is planned and will include the latest ideas in energy conversation and alternative power supply.
Escarpment is accredited with Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand, an industry initiative directed through New Zealand Winegrowers. With a growing trade and consumer demand for environmentally friendly products, it provides an important platform to promote the New Zealand wine industry as a world leader in clean, green wine production.
Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand provides a frame-work to improve all aspects of performance – environmental, social and economic sustainability. In the vineyard it addresses the use of agrichemicals, soil health, water availability and quality, and biodiversity. In the winery it addresses resource management, waste management and process management issues. The programme also promotes the well-being of staff, neighbours and the community.
Larry McKenna has firmly established himself as a leading winemaker in these parts and is particularly renowned and respected as one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent Pinot Noir winemakers. Referred to by various wine writers and authorities as everything from the "Prince of Pinot Noir", the "Godfather of Pinot Noir", a Pinot Noir "legend", and "maestro", Larry has built a solid reputation for understanding and gaining the best out of this typically stubborn and capricious grape. This is no mean feat, for, as leading British wine writer Jancis Robinson says, “Pinot Noir is a minx of a grape” and “demands much of both vine-grower and winemaker”.
Much of Larry’s success with winemaking has come from a deep-seated passion for producing the very best wine of the grapes he has to work with. He takes a collaborative approach to winemaking and believes in sharing his knowledge and understanding with fellow winemakers to ensure collective learning and progression. He points to the developments and successes in recent years with New Zealand’s Pinot Noir and argues that the open exchange the winemakers have shared, the fact that they represent a range of nationalities and their varying approaches to winemaking and to Pinot Noir benefits the quality of the wine produced.
Playing an integral role in helping shape the development of Pinot Noir in New Zealand, Larry has headed-up a number of winemaker-critiquing workshops and conferences to ensure this open exchange and healthy sharing of learning and knowledge continues and is valued by emerging wine makers as well as established ones.
Known for his relaxed and unassuming style, Larry applies the same approach to his winemaking. Rather than force a wine into doing something out of character, he works with the grapes to develop distinctive wines that are true to character, quality and vintage. And this doesn’t stop at Pinot Noir. Regardless of the grape variety, Larry applies the same skill, precision, understanding and integrity to ensure that his Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Blanc all stand proudly alongside his Pinot Noir.
Born and bred in Adelaide, Australia he graduated from the Roseworthy Agricultural College there in 1976 and has nearly three decades of winemaking experience under his belt. After travelling for a stint through Europe and sampling the wine culture, he cut his teeth with fellow Roseworthy student John Hancock at Delegat’s Wine Estate in Auckland, New Zealand.
In 1986 Larry left Auckland to take up the position of CEO/Winemaker at Martinborough Vineyard in the Wairarapa region. From 1986 to 1999, he grew this company from 20 to 160 tonnes and firmly put Martinborough Vineyard and himself on the world map as one of the pre-eminent New World Pinot Noir producers and winemakers.
Leaving behind careers in molecular biology and medicine, John and Brigid returned to Marlborough in 1988 to establish their first vineyard at Renwick, in the heart of the stoney Wairau River Valley. 1990 saw the first vintage of Forrest wine and it was immediately successful, winning a trophy at the national wine awards - an achievement that has been repeated many times both nationally and internationally over the subsequent vintages.
The Forrests are often asked "Why did you do it?", to which their answer is "A mixture of our passion for wine and a desire to achieve and to be recognised and rewarded for one's efforts. In hindsight we struck upon a career which suits our personalities - a perfect blend of art and science."
Grape growing and winemaking is an exacting science, however it must have the artistic touch to give the wines soul. That individual expression of style is the trademark of Forrest wines - rich aromatic white wines and powerfully scented reds, all impeccably structured and a joy to drink.
Forrest Wines is home to The Doctors’ range. With the strapline "Innovation through Excellence", these wines are all lower in alcohol than comparable New Zealand whites while maintaining the typical Marlborough flavour profile that consumers have grown to love. The lower alcohol is achieved by restricting the sugar concentration in the fruit at harvest as well as by arresting fermentation at the appropriate time. The Sauvignon Blanc has an ABV of 9.5%, and the Doctors’ Riesling is 8.5%.
Also available is the John Forrest Collection, a range of terroir-driven wines with great integrity and purity of flavour, which clearly reflect their sense of place. Each wine is produced in very small quantities and hand harvested in only the best vintages.
G. H. Mumm Champagne
In 1875, he decided to decorate each of his bottles with the prized Cordon Rouge or red sash of the Légion d’Honneur, the highest French civilian distinction, created by Napoleon I. Over and above the symbol of excellence that it represents, the Cordon Rouge embodies the true spirit that drives the House of G.H. Mumm: the quest for perfection, a spirit of adventure and panache.
Mumm today is one of the largest Champagne producers worldwide, famous for its Cordon Rouge.
G.H. Mumm has been an official sponsor of Formula 1 motorsport since 2000, providing the Champagne bottles for the podium celebrations after each race.
The iconic Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut is Pinot Noir dominated, blended with around 30% of Chardonnay. Around 25% of library vintages add depth and complexity to this non-vintage cuvee.
For us, our favourite cuvee of G.H. Mumm is the Blanc De Blancs Mumm De Cramant, originally known as Cremant De Cramant, for this wine is bottled at just 4 atmospheres of pressure rather than Champagne's usual 6 atmospheres. It is an expression of pure Chardonnay, grown in the Grand Cru village of Cramant in the Cotes des Blancs and bottled after only two years on its lees. It's the very epitome of elegance.
Giuseppe Mascarello E Figlio
Giuseppe Mascarello began the family business back in 1881, in the village of Monforte d'Alba, where he purchased a site in Regione Pian della Polvere. Giuseppe's son, Maurizio Mascarello, bought a farm in the Monprivato area of Castiglione Falletto in 1904, moving the business there and producing Barolo grown on his Monprivato vineyard. However, he was unable to grow the quantity of grapes he required on his own estate and so Maurizio began to supplement the wine he produced with Dolcetto and Barbera wines made from selected grapes grown in the best positions and purchased from reliable growers in the area. In 1919, Maurizio purchased an old 18th-century building in the village of Monchiero (between Barolo, Monforte d'Alba and Dogliani) and, following some renovation work, he moved his winery there. In 1921, Maurizio planted part of the Monprivato vineyard with Nebbiolo vines, grafted with a special clone of the Michét variety.
Unfortunately, Maurizio Mascarello died in 1923, and his son Giuseppe took over the running of the family firm - assisted by his brother Natale and his sisters Giuseppina and Adelaide. Very soon though, different points of view on the philosophy of the business and the way it should be run forced Giuseppe and Natale to part company, dividing the property and marketing areas into two. In the first half of the 1930s, Giuseppe decided to abandon his family’s more profitable building materials business to give himself over completely to his calling: the production of wines of outstanding quality. In the late fifties, he personally selected the wood to replace the old casks in his cellar with new Slavonian oak casks made in Italy according to his specific criteria. The production of Barolo increased considerably, though Giuseppe’s excellent knowledge of the best vineyards in the Alba area and his perfect mastery of wine-making techniques meant that the quality remained exceptionally high.
Mauro Mascarello, the current scion of the Mascarello family, worked alongside his father for many years before taking on the responsibility of running the cellar in Monchiero in 1967. For a number of years, from 1968 to 1977, Mauro experimented with various fermenting and winemaking techniques before returning to the traditional long fermentation period used by his forebears, albeit with a number of changes. In 1970, Mauro began to vinify the grapes grown on each single vineyard separately, starting with the Monprivato Nebbiolo before proceeding with the other vineyards. Upon the death of his uncle Natale in 1979, Mauro purchased his company, re-uniting it into the Azienda Agricola Giuseppe Mascarello e Figlio. Today Mauro runs the estate with his wife, Maria-Theresa, and with his son Giuseppe.
The 123 hectare Glenelly Estate was formerly devoted to fruit production, but after an intensive study of the soil structure and weather patterns by Madame de Lencquesaing, 54.5 hectares were planted with red grape varieties and 5.5 hectares were given to white varieties. A small remainder was planted with olive trees and the rest remained as forest. There are 5 main red grape varieties grown at Glenelly: Cabernet Sauvignon for its structure; Syrah for the fineness of red fruit aromas and flavours; Petit Verdot to bring complex notes of liquorice and violets to a blend; Merlot giving freshness and fruity notes; and finally Cabernet Franc to pair with the Merlot, giving an almost Pomerol-style character to certain wines.
A new, gravity fed winery was completed in 2009, and everything is done in as natural and as environmentally friendly a manner as possible - even the concrete used for its construction was coloured in ochre tones to match the surrounding soils!
Between Gratallops and Poboleda, hidden amongst the emblematic mountains of Priorat, are the vineyard terraces rich in Llicorella (a slate and quartz soil) where the old vines produce powerful, structured wines. Carinyena (Carignan) and Garnatxa (Grenache) are the indigenous grape varieties typical of the region, but Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are two newcomers that have adapted well to the harsh climate and to the poor soil. Undoubtedly, the nature of the Llicorela provides the wines with part of their magic, namely the distinctive mineral character of the wines of Priorat.
In accordance with their philosophy of always being respectful to the environment and to biodiversity, the Cusiné family cultivate all of their vineyards organically, without pesticides or herbicides. They do not irrigate their vines so that the roots penetrate the stony ground as deeply as possible, finding the rainwater reatined in the soil and thereby withstanding periods of drought.
The panoramic vistas from Guardian Peak are simply stunning and, for any of you lucky enough to get out that way, there is now a wonderful restaurant at the winery with food to match the magnificence of the views.
Lying at comparable latitudes to France and Italy’s best wine regions, New Zealand gets lots of strong sunshine. However, being surrounded by a vast expanse of cold ocean, the temperatures are at the cool end of the winegrowing spectrum. This combination makes New Zealand wines distinctly fresh and vibrant.
Marlborough is wedged between mountain ranges and the ocean, near the top of the South Island. Wine has only been grown here on any real scale since the 1970s, but in these few decades the region has become recognised internationally as a wine paradise. The Waihopai Valley marks the westernmost end of Marlborough’s main Wairau Valley. Beyond it lies nothing but rugged hills. Being further from the sea (30km) and at higher altitude (100m), nights are even cooler here than in other parts of the region. This slows down ripening, creating elegant acidity and more intense flavours.
The soil at the vineyard consists of deep glacial outwash shingle deposits overlaid with finer alluvial or loess material, including lots of clay deeper down. The relatively infertile, free-draining soil is very much like that in Graves and Médoc in Bordeaux, as well as parts of the Rhône Valley.
The Wairau Valley, Marlborough climate is one of the sunniest and driest in New Zealand. A rare combination of long, dry summers, bright sun and cool, clear nights provides perfect conditions for growing ripe, intensely-flavoured fruit.
Winemaking at Herringbone is informed by three fundamental beliefs:
1. Great fruit is the first requirement to make great wine.
2. To make the best of what nature provides, there is a need to combine New World innovation and Old World experience.
3. Look after the land if you want the land to look after you.
In terms of viticulture, the vineyard is unusual for Marlborough because VSP (vertical shoot position) trellis system and close row planting is used, which are practices usually associated with Old World planting styles. High vine density results in each plant bearing fewer grapes of higher quality.
To create wines that experts have described as "three dimensional" and "immaculate", Herringbone combines time-honoured methods with proven concepts from cutting-edge viticultural science. The aim is to discover new expressions of classic Marlborough styles – accessible, elegant and food-friendly wines. Winemaker Jeff Clarke’s talent for consistently creating wines of outstanding quality is recognised internationally. Since 1993, he has played a key role in the development of New Zealand’s most successful wine styles.
Hollick Wines is a small family-owned winery in Coonawarra, in the Limestone Coast Wine Zone of South Australia. Ian and Wendy Hollick purchased a piece of grazing land at the southern end of the Coonawarra district in 1974. This small block of land was one of the original allocations in the Coonawarra Fruit Colony which John Riddoch founded in 1890. It was never developed as a fruit block but instead was the site of a tannery, and later a dairy.
Ian Hollick's involvement with viticulture goes way back to his childhood in Mildura as the son of a soldier settler fruit blocker. After studying Agricultural Science at Dookie Agricultural College, and after a tenure with Mildara Wines Coonawarra as national vineyard manager, Ian and Wendy launched Hollick Wines in 1983, although the Hollicks have progressively planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc since 1975. They restored the original slab cottage located on Neilson’s Block which remains at the entrance to Hollick Wines today. This heritage listed cottage dates back to the 1860s, and it was reputedly the birthplace of famous lyric poet John Shaw Neilson. The cottage was used for cellar door sales until 2002 when a retail area and restaurant (Upstairs at Hollick) were built to fulfil the demand for a winery restaurant in Coonawarra.
Ian's expertise in viticulture has seen him as an industry leader, and the Hollick team place special emphasis on producing only premium fruit. The small, modern winery is designed around winemaking methods which produce wines of distinction, showing regionality as well as specific vineyard and varietal characters. Driven by quality and a hands-on approach, Hollick wines continue to be made from three core vineyards. Neilson’s Block, planted by Ian and Wendy Hollick in 1975, the nearby Wilgha Vineyard, purchased in 1987 and further developed since, and the Wrattonbully Vineyard developed in 1998, giving Hollick over 200 acres of premium vineyard in total. Further plantings of Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Petit Verdot, and even more recently Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Barbera and Savagnin have also taken place.
Ian's expertise in viticulture has seen him as an industry leader, and the Hollick team place special emphasis on producing only premium fruit. The small, modern winery is designed around winemaking methods which produce wines of distinction, showing regionality and specific vineyard and varietal characters. For those of you who have never tasted Hollick wines, you're in for a real treat. Typically Australian, Hollick wines are full bodied and substantial but they have all of the balance, refinement and complexity that Coonawarra is famous for.
Indaba is a Zulu word meaning "a meeting of the minds", a traditional gathering of tribal leaders for sharing ideas. Indaba was created as a celebration of the democratisation process in South Africa and it embodies the notion of coming together. Indaba is taking its long-standing commitment to education in the vineyard to the next level by kick starting the WELL Project (Winelands Education for Living and Learning) in South Africa. The Project will support childhood development by providing infrastructure, learning materials and teacher training at schools established for wineland workers' children.
Indaba sales also provide financial assistance to the Pinotage Youth Development Academy, a program that assists motivated but currently unemployed South African young adults by providing a combination of technical and personal life skills, supported by work opportunities on farms.
Established by Cape Classics, a portion of the proceeds from the Indaba wine brand’s global sales support the newly-created Indaba Education Fund (IEF). Formerly known as the Indaba Scholarship, Indaba has provided many bursaries for students to pursue wine-industry-related graduate and post-graduate studies since 1998. Via IEF, Indaba is further boosting its commitment to education by shifting its focus to the crucial area of early childhood development (ECD). The Indaba Education Fund’s mission will be to provide teacher training, infrastructure and learning materials all based on a Montessori approach, at schools established for wine farm workers’ children in the Cape Winelands. This training is coordinated in the Winelands through the Stellenbosch-based Sustainability Institute and the Newberry House School. IEF aims to implement positive changes in society by starting at the beginning – identifying and fostering untapped potential in children at an early, receptive and influential age in hopes of encouraging brighter futures.
In order to preserve the precious nature of the area, Indaba takes careful measures to ensure that conservation and sustainability remain top priorities during the production of its wines. Indaba wines are Integrity and Sustainability Certified and every bottle has a sustainability seal displayed on its capsule. Certified by the Wine and Spirit Board of South Africa, this seal is a guarantee of the wine’s origin, vintage and variety as stated on the wine label. It is also a guarantee that the wine complies with IPW criteria – Integrated Production of Wine, a voluntary environmental protection program established by the South African wine industry. The seal verifies that your bottle of Indaba was crafted under strict guidelines requiring eco-friendly wine production and sustainable agricultural, manufacturing and packaging practices.
Indaba wines are crafted by winemaker Bruwer Raats, who has been with the estate since 2008. Bruwer is also proprietor and winemaker of internationally acclaimed Raats Family Wines in South Africa. He brings extensive knowledge and a personal devotion to Indaba, aiming to create handcrafted wines that are fresh, juicy and approachable.
Bruwer oversees the sourcing of grapes and works closely with the various growers (most of them under long-term contract with Indaba) to impact viticulture decisions and to drive the ultimate style of the wines. All grapes are handpicked with meticulous attention to detail. The result is a range of wines that are truly distinctive representations of the soil in which they are grown, remaining food friendly and offering something for every palate. Consistently garnering “Best Value” and “Best Buy” accolades, Indaba Wines deliver character and structure well beyond their price.
J & H Selbach Weinkellerei
The company philosophy is to make the beautifully elegant, crisp, low-alcohol but full-flavoured wines which the Mosel is so famous for; wines that reflect their heritage: the mineral-rich slate soil and ripe, juicy Riesling fruit. In order to do that, it takes excellent vineyards, careful vineyard and yield management, very selective handpicking and, if necessary, numerous passes through the same vineyard at harvest time. The grapes are gently pressed at low pressure, the juice settles by gravity, not by centrifuge and it is then fermented in a cool cellar at low temperatures, mostly with native wild yeasts.
Click here to see our selection from the prestigious Weingut Selbach-Oster, owned by the Selbach family since 1600 and where they have been making wine for over 400 years.
The Steytler family has farmed here since 1946, and Danie and his younger brother George are the third generation to run the estate. Every member of the family has a job: George is the viticulturist and looks after the vineyards, the maintenance of buildings and vehicles. His wife, Mandy, rents out a venue for weddings and parties and also runs a small guest house. Danie, the elder of the two brothers, oversees the finances and whatever is happening in the wine cellar, also helping with local sales and marketing within South Africa. His son, Danie Junior, joined the family company in February 2009 as winemaker. He has a degree in Oenology & Viticulture from Stellenbosch University and spent 4 years making wine in France, New Zealand, California, Italy and Greece before he was allowed to come home and try his hand on the family wines at Kaapzicht. In 2012 he got married and, because his wife Carin has a bubbly, outgoing personality, is hard working and is extremely passionate about the wines and family business, she was offered a job as local Marketing & Sales Manager. Since March 2013, she has been responsible for all of the sales within South Africa. Yngvild, Danie Senior's wife, has been Export Marketing Manager since 1997 and still loves jetting around the world, visiting business partners and helping to grow their export markets.
Kaapzicht's unirrigated vineyards are grown on old weathered granite soils on the north-western slopes of the Bottelary Hills, in warm, direct sunlight 30km from the Atlantic Ocean and its cool sea breeze. The vines have a perfect combination of everything needed to create full bodied, fruity wines. On 190 hectares, 162 of which are under vine, the plantings are 70% red grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Pinotage, Cinsault, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Pinot Noir) and 30% white varieties (mainly Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, some Muscat D'Alexandrie and even less Chardonnay). The estate's old, gnarled Pinotage bush vines are given especially tender care and attention and young Danie Steytler is considered to be one of the top Pinotage producers in South Africa.
All Kaapzicht wines are certified estate wines and therefore have to be made from grapes grown on the Steytler's own property and vinified in their own wine cellar which guarantees consistency of quality.
The two Danies, father and son, make wines in exactly the same style they would like to drink themselves: full bodied, round and fruity, with good structure, well integrated tannins and a long finish. At the same time, they are forever trying to improve their wines.
Improvement is also the key word for the responsibility they feel for the educational improvement of their farmworkers and their respective families, approximately 120 people who live with them on the estate. With the help of the charity organisation "Pebbles", they have revamped the old kindergarten on the farm, and two young teachers are now looking after ten babies and toddlers under 6 years old.
Since most teenagers did not finish school because of unaffordable school fees, in 2002 the Steytlers started to pay the school bills for all 42 children of their employees. In addition, Pebbles has helped them to start an after school club where these 42 youngsters can do their schoolwork under supervision and are taught games, drama, life skills and different kinds of sport. They strongly believe that better education is the key for the future of South Africa and are trying to do everything possible to prepare the farm children for a great future.
When the children have gone home in the evenings, a group of adults arrives for literacy classes and others come for lessons to help them pass their graduation exams many years after having officially left school.
The farmers are avid soccer fans and have organised their own men's, women's and youth's soccer clubs. They play matches every weekend against other farm soccer clubs on the field in the estate valley.
Alongside the soccer field in the valley, and in the small ravines on the farm, you will find some peacefully grazing horses and ponies. They have been rescued from a life of misery and malnutrition by Animal Welfare and while now living out their lives in peace, Maryke (who lives on the Kaapzicht Estate with her family) trains them and offers free riding sessions to handicapped children several times a week.
Since 2000, Danie Senior has been a member of the prestigious Cape Winemaker’s Guild, an organisation to which only the top winemakers in the country get invited to join. Apart from the annual auction of specially made icon wines, this famous group of winemakers financially supports the educational careers of 9 disadvantaged pupils and 2 protegé future wine makers.
Kaapzicht has set aside about 2 hectares of unspoilt land with endangered fynbos vegetation as a private nature reserve. All vintages since 2010 carry the IPW (Integrated Production of Wine) sustainability seal which certifies that all work in the vineyards and in the cellar has been performed in as environmentally friendly a manner as possible. Although not a member of WIETA (The Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association) and not certified as Fair Trade, the Steytlers do follow the guidelines of these organisations and they support the BWI (Biodiversity and Wine Initiative) as well as all other South African laws.
Wine is their passion, their livelihood and their life. They enjoy living in harmony not only with their own family, but also with their surroundings: with the farm community, with the multiple cultures around them and with mother nature.
Les Frères Couillaud
Château De La Ragotière was the home of the noble Loré de la Ragotière family who settled there in the fourteenth century. The château was destroyed during the French Revolution, but the family retained ownership of the estate until the nineteenth century. The numerous vineyards were planted a long time ago and have always produced exceptionally long lived wines. For those people who do not believe that Muscadet can both keep and improve with age, Château De La Ragotière's cellar houses great, old vintages that date back to 1947.
Bernard, Michel and François Couillaud were born into a family of winemakers who had been based in Mouzillon for over 150 years. Their grandfather, Auguste Couillaud, had been a pioneer a hundred years earlier with his 20 hectares of vines. Leon, their father, developed the reputation of the Clos Des Bourguignons, one of the oldest Muscadet vineyards.
In the early 1970s, after travelling through the United States and Mexico, Bernard returned with an ambition to promote his family's Muscadet worldwide. Whilst working with his father he decided to bottle and sell his own wines, a real revolution at that time. His brothers, Michel and François were also passionate about the family's vineyard and the three brothers decided to buy Château De La Ragotière in 1979. The adventure of Couillaud brothers began with major renovations in the winery and in the vineyards to rehabilitate the property.
The sloping and stoney hillside vineyards of Ragotière face south-south east, where vines are methodically pruned, fertilised and harvested and the entire operation is optimised by a computer system linked directly to the brothers’ own state-of-the-art weather station. The vinification is no less strictly supervised, with pneumatic pressing and cold maceration employed to maximise fruit and aromas, followed by temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel vats. Maturation for about a year on the lees ("sur lie") ensures that the the maximum freshness is retained in the wines.
In 2006, Bernard, Michel and François welcomed the new generation of Couillauds to the business: Bernard's daughter, Amélie, and her husband, Vincent, both of whom are extremely passionate about wine. Amélie, a graduate in business and languages, handles exports whilst Vincent, an agricultural engineer, is in charge of the vineyards.
Les Hauts De La Garrigue
Louis Roederer Champagne
While other houses bought their grapes, Louis Roederer nurtured his vineyards, familiarised himself with the specific characteristics of each parcel, and methodically acquired the finest land. Louis Roederer’s guiding principle was that all great wine depends on the quality of the soil, a passion for tradition, and an astute vision of the future; the fame and reputation of the house of Louis Roederer was firmly established. His heir, Louis Roederer II, was equally enlightened and adopted his father’s conscientious approach to the production of Champagne, patrimonial estate management, and instinctive audacity. He also drew inspiration from his collection of many books and drawings. In the 1870s, the Louis Roederer Champagne house began to export its wines to the United States, and even to Tsar Alexander II of Russia.
A man of great taste and an inveterate researcher, Louis Roederer II fashioned an exclusive champagne for the Tsar and launched a novel concept: the very first Cuvée de Prestige. It was created in 1876 and was named “Cristal”. Ever since, the subtleness and elegance of Cristal have forged Louis Roederer’s reputation for excellence.
In the 1920s, the future heir to the house, Léon Olry-Roederer, set about creating a highly balanced wine - a consistent and delicate blend of several vintages - to ensure that the wine would always be of the highest quality. This wine would form the basis for what would come to be called the Brut Premier. This fine blend greatly contributed to the renaissance of the house of Louis Roederer. After his death, from 1933 onwards, the winery was managed by his strong-minded widow, Camille, who ran the Champagne house with formidable intelligence and singular dynamism. Camille loved horse racing and owned one of the most famous stables in the world; she was also an enlightened patron and embraced the more festive and pleasurable aspects of Champagne. Camille Olry-Roederer held many receptions in the family’s Hôtel Particulier in Reims. These parties had a lasting impact on the history of the house and introduced a whole new generation of wine lovers to the joys of Louis Roederer Champagne.
Her grandson, Jean-Claude Rouzaud, an oenologist and agronomist, eventually took over the running of the estate and decided to consolidate the vineyards. Through his passionate commitment to the metier of wine-growing, he cultivated more than ever the inventive qualities that are so representative of the house’s philosophy. The house of Louis Roederer has remained an independent, family-owned company and is now managed by Jean-Claude’s son, Frédéric Rouzaud, who represents the seventh generation of the lineage. Louis Roederer’s annual exports now total three million bottles around the world.
In 1845, Louis Roederer acquired 15 hectares of vineyards in the Grand Cru area of Verzenay. The idea - which was quite unusual at a time when grapes had little value - was to become a vine grower in order to master the entire process of creating his vintage wines. Ever since, every Louis Roederer vintage originates exclusively from its own vines, a rare feat in the Champagne region. The quest for a diversity of terroirs, crus, parcels, and grape varieties in the vineyards was rapidly integrated by the house of Louis Roederer. A groundbreaking strategy was implemented, which involved buying specific parcels selected for their capacity to produce distinctive wines. This strategy is still a core component of the house’s continuing development. By 2013, Louis Roederer’s vineyards stretched across 240 hectares and included 410 parcels.
Taking into account the specificities of different soils and the practice of tailor-made viticulture enable it to attain optimal grape maturity. This precise work is carried out with great respect for biodiversity and, increasingly, for the principles of biodynamic cultivation. The vineyards are located in three classic Champagne districts: the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne, and the Côte des Blancs. The diversity and fertility of these sites provide the house with an extensive and rich palette from which to fashion the wines.
This precise selection process and plot-by-plot vinification ensures that the origins and traceability of the grapes are respected, and it provides a perfect record of the fruit from each row of vines. Hence the natural equilibrium of each parcel is preserved, bringing out the finest qualities in the wines.
Inside the cuves and the tuns the wine develops its own personality, with its own qualities - and sometimes weaknesses - that the oenologists fully nurture and exploit. At this stage, all the richness and diversity of the fruits come to the fore. The contents of the fermenting tanks is tasted every day and classified into families of aromas, flavours, and characters. Every observation on the part of the wine tasters is carefully noted. Constantly tasted and reclassified, Louis Roederer’s wines gradually mature and develop their own unique characters.
The current winemaker, Gianmaria Righetti, is the fifth generation of the Righetti family to carry on the family wine-making tradition. Gianmaria's father, Luigi, took over this same role back in the 1940s, and he was the first in the family to consider increasing the estate’s production above the level of local demand. Today, he is still active in the estate's day to day operation. Gianmaria, who took over winemaking responsibilities in 1985, has broadened the range to include single vineyard offerings and wines with great international appeal.
Lyme Bay Winery
Straying from the normal path, Lyme Bay showcases English wines with true character and substance in both still and sparkling styles. Since its beginnings in 1992, the philosophy of this boutique British drinks producer has remained the same: to push the boundaries of cool climate winemaking and to aim for the very best quality.
With these ideals enshrined in its ethos, Lyme Bay Winery launched its first vintages of English wine in 2015. Working very closely with a select group of the best growers in the South of England, the grapes are hand harvested, rigorously sorted and gently pressed. This results in vibrant, articulate and extremely drinkable wines. Thanks to England's cool maritime climate, these wines are lower in alcohol and higher in acidity than their European cousins, making them fantastic partners for a wide spectrum of dishes and cuisines.
The production philosophy is to control yields so as not to dilute the influence of the terroir, which is crucial for the production of wines of character. Champy’s regional and village level wines are approachable and emphasise consistency of quality and supply, whilst its premier and grand cru wines maximise their potential and are vinified in an altogether more ageworthy style. All of the wines offer a unique combination of balance, elegance and purity of fruit.
The grapes for Champy’s wines come from two sources. Champy acquired its own 25 hectare estate in 1990, the vineyards of which are all in the Côte De Beaune. Grapes from other appellations, mainly in the Côte De Nuits, are sourced through long standing contracts with local winegrowers.
Champy’s commitment to the environment means that all treatments in the estate vineyards are sustainable, organic and biodynamic. Work in the vineyard is based around the cycles of the moon, and no pesticides or herbicides are used. Champy is moving into an exciting new phase as the estate vineyards have been awarded organic certification.
Maison Chanzy produces around 250,000 bottles a year of red and white Burgundy wines from its 32 hectares of vineyards in Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuit and Côte Chalonnaise, as well producing a range of wines on a négociant basis. The director of the estate is Jean-Baptiste Jessiaume, named Côte de Beaune Young Winemaker of the Year in 2012, and his wines have received recent awards from Decanter Magazine, Concours Des Grand Vins de France and the Guide Hachette. Jean-Baptiste uses new oak sparingly at Chanzy, allowing the fruit to come to the fore and retaining great freshness in each cuvée. Chanzy’s are predominantly wines for drinking in their youth, although the premiers and grands crus reds have fine staying power once in the bottle.
As is true of most other wine producers in Vouvray, Maison Darragon produces only white wines solely from the Chenin Blanc grape. The wines are made in a newly built winery and then mature in ancient cave cellars until ready for sale. The estate practices reasoned agriculture out of respect for the environment, its vines and its wines.
Due to a series of unfortunate events – sample bottles being broken in transit, visits to the state being aborted because of thick fog etc. – it took about two years for us to actually get to taste Maison Darragon’s wines, but they were certainly worth the wait. We tasted wines from many other Vouvray estates and all too often they were over-sulphured and less than charming on the palate. None of that here as Pierre's wines are always exemplary: clean, fresh and fruity, whatever their style, and their quality is head and shoulders above anything else we’ve tried from the appellation. No wonder we’ve been buying them for so many years now!
Mas Carlot was purchased August 5, 1853 by Admiral Grasset who was in the service of Ferdinand II of Bourbon, King of Naples and the two Sicilies. He felt the Italian revolution approach and he wanted to cover his back - subsequent events proved him right. He bought Mas Carlot from a Mr. Louis Verdier for the sum of 300,000 gold francs. The property included a mansion, an workhouse and 120 hectares of land.
In 1868, after the death of Admiral Grasset, the property was inherited by his eldest son, Emmanuel Ferdinand. An early widower, he then married an American, Miss Louise Heilbuth, in 1888, with whom he had a son, Joachim Emmanuel, before he died suddenly in 1900.
Emmanuel Joachim Grasset, a member of the Camelot Du Roi who founded the Bellegard section of Action Française to regroup patriotic royalists. He refused to live in the city because he missed his beloved Mas Carlot to which he was very loyal, but unfortunately he was killed in Verdun during the First World War without having an heir.
The Countess Grasset (born Heilbuth) died in 1943, and the property returned to her heirs: to her sister, Madame de Lacroix and to the children of her brother Monsieur Heilbuth, and her sister Madame Faucamberge.
The Rossi family maintained the estate until 1947, when Mas Carlot was bought by Monsieur Laurent. In 1956, he undertook significant work to redevelop the domaine. His son, Albin Laurent, subsequently inherited the land and began a substantial conversion to forestry. Unfortunately, ten years later, he was forced to uproot the trees for economic reasons. He replanted the estate with peach trees but by then he could no longer cope with his many debts.
Paul-Antoine Blanc acquired the domain in 1986, and he retained Albin Laurent as estate manager until his retirement. The domaine possessed an excellent selection of grape varieties and the maintenance of the vineyards was exemplary. However, a great deal of renovation of the winery, the cellar and the barrel room was necessary. In 1998, Paul’s daughter Nathalie took the reins.
Born in Paris, Nathalie Blanc-Marès spent her childhood close to the Louvre; her playgrounds were the Royal Palace and the Tuileries. Her father and grandfather worked at Halles and ran the famous Le Pied de Cochon restaurant. Her uncles also founded restaurants in Clement in honour of their father.
Because of his attachment to the land, her father Paul sold Le Pied de Cochon to buy Mas Carlot, having spotted the quality of its terroir and its many other charms. At the age of 18, Nathalie worked a harvest under the tutelage of oenologists Maryse and Alain Demezon. It was love at first sight and she decided to become a winemaker.
She left Paris to study viticulture and oenology at Montpellier, wanting to learn everything aspect of winemaking from the vine to the glass. After four years of studying and working the harvests, she gained her oenologist diploma and had a sound technical knowledge.
Wanting to complete her education, she began a masters in the international wine trade and studied in many countries including the USA at UC Davis. After an internship in the wines and spirits department of Sopexa in Paris, she took up the role of sales and marketing manager for a wholesaler in Rungis.
However, she missed the land and she could not resist the call of the harvest in 1996. It was then that she met Cyril Marès at Mas des Bressades next to a barrel of Roussanne and he would eventually become her husband. In 1998, she left Paris to run her first harvest at Mas Carlot. She began to renovate Mas Carlot which had begun to rest upon the laurels of its past. She planted 25 hectares of new vines, she rehabilitated the precious old vines and undertook the renovation of the cellar.
17 years later, her attraction to the area and her passion for her profession have remain undimmed. Stubborn, courageous and perfectionistic, she carefully works the Mas Carlot estate to produce the best possible grapes to make wines that we love year after year. We used to regard the wines of Costières De Nîmes as simple and easy, but at Mas Carlot Nathalie has crafted wines of great complexity and depth that express the true heart of her Provençal vineyards.
At Moccagatta, Barbaresco is made in three crus of radically different character, two in the commune of Barbaresco itself (Bric Balin and Cole) and one in the commune of Neive (Basarin). The area consists of small hills and valleys, and the altitude varies between 240 and 300 metres above sea level. The area is well ventilated and springtime frosts are very rare as a result; the climate is relatively mild; and any ambient humidity does not stagnate, providing the ideal conditions for good ripening of the grapes and preventing the spread of rot or disease. According to Sergio Minuto, the character of Moccagatta's wines is influenced not so much by this extremely favourable microclimate but rather by the type of soils in the vineyards. The soils in Barbaresco (where the Bric Balin and Cole crus are located) are much more ancient than the soils in Neive (where the Basarin vineyard lies) which also include a far higher percentage of sand.
The Barbaresco Basarin is probably the easiest to drink when released, whereas the wines from the other two vineyards are more austere and closed at first, needing longer to open up and to express themselves. However, when they do you will be hooked for life! These Mocchagatta Barbareschi age extremely well: we recently opened a 1990 Barbaresco Basarin and it was still fabulous.
In the vineyards, the viticultural advances of the last 20 years, in particular fruit thinning and topping of the vines, make it possible to obtain a consistent quality of fruit even in more challenging vintages. In the past, when topping was not carried out, the canopy of the vines could easily grow up to three metres in height (the shoots of Nebbiolo can grow up to 5-6 meters). With topping, the canopy is two metres high at the most and the vines are consequently “in balance” (balance is achieved when vegetative growth and fruit load are in equilibrium) and they also become more resistant to diseases and insect attacks.
The vinification of the the three crus of Barbaresco is the same: fermentation and maceration with the skins in horizontal fermentation vats for 6-7 days at 30 degrees Celsius. The wine is then racked off into stainless steel vats where the alcoholic fermentation is completed. Finally, the wine matures in French oak barriques (228 litres capacity, medium toasting, 70-80% new wood) for 18 months. Finishing in the bottle lasts a minimum of 9-10 months before release. As well as the Barbaresco crus, Moccagatta produces a remarkable barrel fermented Chardonnay, a lighter bodied unoaked Chardonnay and a small quantity of a very fine Dolcetto. In short, under Franco and Sergio Minuto, the Moccagatta estate has gained a place among the finest producers in Piemonte. Unfortunately, as is all too often the case with the finest producers, great quality goes hand in hand with small quantities.
Moët & Chandon Champagne
Toward the end of the 18th century, Jean-Remy Moët, grandson of founder Claude Moët, became famous as the man who introduced Champagne to the world. The important figures of the era, from the Marquise de Pompadour to Talleyrand to Napoleon quickly fell in love with the house’s effervescent wine. Moët & Chandon was soon the icon of success and elegance that it remains to this day.
The Marquise de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XIV of France, one of the most powerful women of her time and a highly influential tastemaker, helped make Moët Champagne the wine of choice throughout Europe’s royal courts. Inspired by her love of Moët & Chandon, she declared, “Champagne is the only wine in the world that makes every woman beautiful.”
Moët Imperial, the house’s flagship Champagne, owes its name to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. He visited the estates in Epernay numerous times and awarded Jean-Remy Moët one of France’s highest honours, the medal of the Légion D’Honneur. Legend has it that Napoleon and his troops invented the tradition of sabering open bottles of Moët to celebrate victory.
As the grapes that impart their incomparable flavour to the wines of Moët & Chandon, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay come from vineyards in all of the five main areas of Champagne. The house has the luxury of choice and the luxury of choosing the best. With vineyards in Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs, Vallée de la Marne, Sézanne and Aube, it has access to approximately 200 of the 323 crus in the region, including a total of 17 grands crus and 32 of the 44 premiers crus. This wide-ranging diversity of fruits and vineyards ensures the optimum selection of grapes, enabling it to maintain the consistency of Moët Impérial and the originality of Grand Vintage.
To walk through Moët & Chandon's wine cellars in Epernay is to enter the very heart of the house. Located 10 to 30 metres under the chalky soil, Moët & Chandon’s cellars are the largest within the Champagne region, spanning 28km (aprox 17.4 miles). In this legendary subterranean labyrinth the forces of nature have come together to create a unique setting, ideal for the metamorphosis of choice fruit into the house’s luxurious wine. Select grapes undergo their transformation into Champagne in conditions where temperature and humidity levels are constant and unchanging.
New technology combined with the best of traditional craftsmanship is helping to ensure that the legendary quality and style of the house's Champagnes never falters. As nature is at the very heart of Moët, its latest advances in sustainable viniculture to preserve and protect the environment are among its proudest accomplishments.
But his dad’s hopes and plans came to nothing, because in Sparky’s second year Sarah Watts walked onto campus. She was beautiful, sporty, fun loving, artistic and clever. Next day Sparky was on the phone to his dad to say that he had just seen the girl that he was going to marry, and he would never be coming home! It took him four years to persuade Sarah that marrying him was a good idea. Whilst waiting, he researched for his thesis on canopy management, won every prize and trophy each year of the course, and won an overseas travel scholarship. Meanwhile, Sarah, whose car numberplate is "HAVNFUN" did just that. She partied, played sports, travelled, and still managed to breeze through her exams.
When they married in 1991, they had $1000 between them and big dreams of developing their own business, succeeding in a career they were both passionate about, helping other people, and having fun. They started work as winemakers with Sarah’s parents at Fox Creek. They built a winery, introduced their Vineyard Watering Programme in the vineyards to produce exceptional fruit, and devoted long hours to perfecting their winemaking. The day after receiving the winery licence they won the McLaren Vale Bushing King and Queen Trophy for Best Wine in Show. Since then, they have won the Bushing two more times, they have won Australian Boutique Winemakers of the Year, and Australian White Winemakers of the Year.
They were successful, super busy, and happy working together and, when their son Luke was born, they would do their winemaking with him sleeping in bassinet close by. Then, one day, they rejected a parcel of wine that didn't quite reach their high standards and gave it to an agent to sell. The agent made a small fortune in half an hour, and Sarah and Sparky decided that they would become bulk wine producers to have more time to spend with their family.
They created a virtual winery by helping their vigneron friends to grow exceptional quality grapes using the Marquis Vineyard Watering Programme. This focuses upon nurturing strong and healthy vines with balanced canopy growth to achieve the most intense fruit flavours possible. The programme centres around intensive data collection and analysis, which starts at bud burst and carries on with inspections of each vineyard throughout the entire growing season. Then they made wines from those grapes in the back of their winemaker friends’ wineries. They made a lot of money.
After two years they found they needed help, and they asked Sparky’s Mum and Dad to sell up and join them. Sparky’s inducement was “our aim will be to make the best bulk wine in Australia, so we can sell it easily. We’ll start in the vineyards in January, harvest in March, make the wine to racked off gross lees, sell it in June, and then go skiing for six months”. Tempted, they sold up. Unfortunately, the next vintage was the year of the huge grape surplus. Sarah and Sparky had red wines to sell, but the market wanted Chardonnay. Wine that had sold the previous year for $7 a litre now only fetched 25 cents a litre and they promptly lost all of the money they had made in the previous two years.
Undaunted, they went back to making bottled wine for their friends Henry’s Drive, Parson’s Flat and Shirvington and for their joint venture Marquis Philips. Once again they were enormously successful. In 1999 they became Australian Winemakers of the Year. In 2002 they won the Bushing Award for a record breaking third time and in the USA Robert Parker declared them "The greatest red wine values in existence" and suggested you "Run, don't walk and secure as much as you can of these wines!"
The Marquis Philips brand was a runaway success, growing from 8000 to 120,000 cases in four years and there was talk of growing bigger still. Then, one day, Sarah and Sparky took stock and decided that it was not the life they wanted to lead. They love the vineyards, love making wine, and love sharing it with friends. They didn’t want to become corporate, and they didn’t ever want to compromise on quality. They decided to go it alone and to stay small and hands-on. They had started with $1000, so they could do it again if they had to. Everyone rallied round to help. Staff offered to take a cut in salary, growers offered to take late payments, suppliers offered extended terms. Both families mortgaged everything and chipped in.
In March 2006 they named their new brand Mollydooker - Aussie for left hander - because they are both left handed. Two weeks later they were down to $17 in the bank. It was scary. They had always been a cash company. Their motto had been, if you can’t pay on time, pay early. Now that was impossible. They couldn’t even afford to label the wine.
And then a miracle happened. A local businessman walked in the door, said he had heard that they may be in trouble, and asked to know the story. Half an hour later he walked out the door on his way to a month’s holiday. Sparky stood, tears pouring down his cheeks, holding a cheque for enough money to enable them to survive. Three months later, The Wine Advocate chose The Boxer as the Best Value Red Wine in the World, the Two Left Feet as the second, and the Maitre D’ as the fourth. The Violinist was chosen the Best Value White Wine in the world. The wines sold out in nineteen days, and all the debts were paid off.
In August that year, when the Carnival of Love and Enchanted Path were released, they sold out in five days and Mollydooker was back to paying bills early, and was able to give bonuses to staff and growers. Since then it has been a story of phenomenal success. A mere eighteen months after being down to their last $17, Sarah and Sparky were able to buy a beautiful property with stunning views, a winery, and 114 acres of vineyards on the magic Seaview Ridge in McLaren Vale, home of most of the iconic McLaren Vale wines.
During the first three years they modernised and upgraded the winery, pulled out unwanted grape varieties and replanted with Shiraz, installed a watering system, implemented the Vineyard Watering Programme, and moved the city office to the winery. They now have 50 permanent staff, joined by another twenty at harvest time. Their success has been built on following their passions, and by working from the heart. Sparky loves his vines, and for the three months before harvest you will find him sitting under the gum trees with the viticulture team, squashing the grapes and tasting the juices, to work out how much water should be put on the vines in the next half week, and when the grapes should be picked. Sarah has been able to indulge her artistic flair. She designed the quirky Lefty labels, the Family labels featuring their kids Luke and Holly, the romantic Carnival of Love and Enchanted Path, and the elegant Velvet Glove, for which she received the Australian Packaging Award.
They are both passionate about their motto "We make wines that make people go WOW, through attention to detail and commitment to excellence!" and never take shortcuts or compromise on quality. They barrel ferment, using new or one year old barrels, and their used barrels fetch the highest prices in the industry. They guarantee the quality of their wine by rating it on its Marquis Fruit Weight (the measure of how far back on your tongue the velvety sensation of fruit goes, before the prickly sensation of tannin is exposed). If they don’t have parcels which qualify at the required Fruit Weight, they don’t make those wines.
Sarah and Sparky have never forgotten how they were helped when they were in need. They have developed and fund three Mollydooker Houses in Phnom Penh, Cambodia which provide education for 300 children and food for their families. They also support Chester County Futures in Pennsylvania, providing education and mentoring for underprivileged children; Mercy Ministries in the US, which helps abused women and girls gain self-esteem and overcome addictions and depression; and The Hutt Street Centre in Australia, which is a safe place of hope, warmth and belonging, for the homeless and vulnerable people in the inner city of Adelaide.
The grape selection and winemaking practices at Murphy’s aim to highlight the fruit flavours with these wines. These appealing styles show ripe fruit aromas and soft, rich palates. Murphy Vineyards has selected, from its own plantings, Chardonnay and Shiraz grapes of great quality which display true varietal expression in the final wine.
His son Joan Cusiné Cusiné took over Parés Baltà in the 1980s and released its first still white wine, Blanc de Pacs, which is still produced today. At the end of the eighties the first Parés Baltà red wine was produced, and since then Joan has enthusiastically explored all avenues to increase the quality of his wines.
Since 2000, the Parés Baltà estate has been in the hands of Joan’s two grandsons, Joan and Josep Cusiné Carol. They have brought fresh, new ideas to the company, whilst respecting its traditions and its heritage. Joan and Josep’s wives, Maria Elena Jimenez and Marta Casas, are the winemakers and oenologists at Parés Baltà and they continue to develop new wines of the highest quality. Their efforts are reflected in the quality of the wines produced at Parés Baltà; they show fine character and concentration, along with beautiful elegance and balance.
The vineyards of Parés Baltà are spread out across a wide variety of soils and each experiences a different climate. These microclimates are defined by geography, i.e. the altitude, the rainfall, the proximity to the Mediterranean Sea or to the river Foix, the aspect of the slope and its exposure to the sun etc. As the climates and soils favour each grape variety differently, it is a delicate task to find the environment that gives the vines the best conditions to develop their unique personalities and traits.
In the hills of Penedés to the south west of Barcelona, Parés Baltà’s vineyards sit at altitudes ranging from 170 to almost 800 metres and they are only 10 kilometres from the sea. In the highest vineyards, thermal air currents and considerable diurnal temperature fluctuations allow the grapes to ripen slower and they are often harvested 4-6 weeks later than grapes grown in vineyards at lower altitudes. Vineyards planted on terraces along the river Foix have an entirely different set of conditions, with their own set of challenges and their own distinctive styles of wine.
There is also a significant diversity of soils, including calcareous, clay, and areas with important quantities of marine fossils. Different soil textures are visible; some are very rocky and are made up of sharp and edgy stones, but others feature small, stones that have been polished by water for millions of years.
The type of soil in which the vines are cultivated has a vital influence on the wines. The soils of Parés Baltà’s best vineyards are poor in quality and have very little organic material. The area with marine fossils is closer to the Mediterranean Sea, and millions of years ago it was at the bottom of the sea. This type of soil is characterised by its permeability, and it retains little water. That makes the vines work hard to find water by sending roots deep into the earth, producing small quantities of grapes that are high on flavour, complexity and concentration.
At Parés Baltà, indigenous grape varieties such as Garnatxa (Grenache), Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Parellada are highly prized. However, thanks to the diversity of soils and microclimates they also have Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Mencía and Merlot planted in the higher, cooler vineyards. Lower down, in the warmer vineyards, Parés Baltà cultivates Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Tempranillo, Muscat, Petit Verdot and Touriga Nacional.
Alongside an emphasis on tradition and quality, the environmentally respectful cultivation of the vines is key to Parés Baltà’s sense of identity. All of their wines are certified as organic and all of their vineyards are Demeter certified as biodynamic. As part of their commitment to innovation, in 2010 Parés Baltà began theoretical studies into biodynamic agriculture, which later would be applied in their vineyards. In 2011, the first biodynamic compounds were used on some experimental plots. One year later, the excellent results encouraged them to extend the practice to their entire vineyard holding. Biodynamic farming seeks to provide maximum vitality, self-balance and harmony to the vineyard. It utilises biodynamic preparations and homeopathic remedies to help convey the influences of the cosmos to the vineyard. Whether you believe in such things or not, it has been shown to result in high fertility, natural pest control and it is a form of agriculture based on biodiversity and astronomy (not astrology).
At Parés Baltà they cultivate the vineyards in an ecological way without the use of herbicides, pesticides or any chemical fertilisers. They have a flock of sheep that takes cares of the vineyards after the harvest, applying its own fertiliser in the process. Some of their vineyards in the mountains of Penedés are planted on terraces created centuries ago. These terraces where abandoned because of the high cost of maintaining them, but Parés Baltà has gradually replanted them, often adopting a modern approach of growing grapes varieties from outside the region in these most historic hillside plots.
The maturation cellar is annexed to the Parés Baltà winery and also dates back to the year 1790. It was built in different phases and with different materials, from adobe to stones. This old cellar is now undergoing a major refurbishment, keeping the original structure but implementing the latest technology. A number of new tasting rooms are also being built.
Visiting the winery, one can follow the history of the bodega from the sizes of the stainless steel tanks used. When Joan first took over, a small number wines were made and a correspondingly small number of very large tanks were used to make them. Today, this has been completely reversed: they use many, much smaller fermentation vessels to enable the fruit of each vineyard to be vinified separately.
We originally discovered Parés Baltà via a recommendation whilst searching for a house Cava for a customer, and little did we know then quite how fortuitous this meeting would be. Each and every one of the Parés Baltà wines is distinctive, expressive and stunningly good; their Cavas are about the best value sparkling wines we offer and their still wines are unfailingly brilliant.
Paul Cluver wines are the result of a close-knit family. Guided by Dr. Paul Cluver, world-renowned neurosurgeon, apple farmer and chairman of Capespan and Vinfruco, the estate is run by his son and general manager Paul Cluver junior. The winemaker Andries Burger is married to Paul Junior's sister, Inge Cluver, who also works in the business with her sisters Karin and Liesl.
Paul Cluver Wines is situated in Elgin on the De Rust estate. De Rust has been in the family since 1896. Dr. Cluver has long been a supporter of conservation projects, officially undertaking projects of his own on the estate from 1970. Dr. Cluver was involved in the establishment and development of Groenlandberg Conservancy and was appointed founding Chairman of this body in 1998. Today, the conservancy spans some 34,000ha, and includes the Groenlandberg and Nature Reserve, after which it is named. Over and above inclusion in the aforementioned conservancy, Paul Cluver Wines also forms part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve area. The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve was the first Biosphere Reserve to be declared in southern Africa, and it forms part of UNESCO's world-wide network of Biosphere Reserves.
De Rust is also one of the first farms in South Africa to enter into a stewardship contract agreement with Cape Nature, the objective of which is to conserve the pristine habitat on the property in perpetuity by means of provisions attached to the property’s title deeds. The conserved area is in excess of 1000ha, and is now called the Cluver Family Reserve. It is being managed according to a management plan that was drawn up by staff of the Cape Nature Stewardship Programme. This reserve includes a game camp for antelope that used to thrive in the area.
The Paul Cluver property has 3 types of vegetation: Elgin Shale Fynbos, Western Ruens Shale Renosterveld and Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos, the first two of which are critically endangered. Paul Cluver Wines is a member of the Green Mountain Eco Route, specifically focussed on developing tourism linked to biodiversity values. Should you visit, there are four cycle trails around the vineyards and nature reserve areas to help you see more of the flora and fauna whilst working up a thirst, and it would be well worth perusing the schedule of performances at the open air Hope @ Paul Cluver Amphitheatre - a 600 seat venue in the heart of a eucalyptus forest on the estate. All profits generated from the sales of tickets for these performances are donated to the Thembalitsha Foundation.
The Pieri Family purchased the estate vineyard at Piancornello in 1950, and sold fruit to other Montalcino producers until releasing the first vintage under the Piancornello label in 1991. The name “Pian” refers to the vineyard’s location on a hamlet of rocky, volcanic soil in the Orcia Valley near the village of Montecucco. This warm, southwestern portion of Montalcino produces full-bodied, mineral flavoured wines as result of its southern exposure, hilly slopes and alluvial soil.
The certified organic vineyards sit on southfacing slopes between 200-250 metres high in the Sesta zone, and are planted with carefully selected, low yielding Sangiovese clones that can withstand drought conditions and high summer temperatures. The soils at Piancornello are alluvial, rich in rocks, pebbles and sand. Located just south of Montalcino, the Mediterranean sea breeze influences the vineyard microclimate by allowing for an early harvest before the rains. All fruit is picked and sorted by hand.
H. Pike & Co. was unfortunately sold in 1972, but this did not end the family tradition. By this time, Henry’s great grandson, Edgar Walter Pike, was well established in the wine industry as a private vigneron and vineyard manager for a large propriety wine company. Edgar’s sons, Andrew and Neil, both entered the wine industry after graduating from Roseworthy Agricultural College and have established themselves in their respective fields of expertise - Andrew in viticulture and management and Neil in winemaking and marketing. With the assistance of Edgar and his wife Merle, they established Pikes Wines in 1984 at Polish Hill River Estate in the Polish Hill River sub-region of the beautiful Clare Valley in South Australia. The first Pikes wines were released in the spring of 1985, and since then they been making and marketing a range of premium table wines which reflect the region, the vintage and the varieties grown.
Neil Pike grew up amongst his father’s vineyards in Padthaway and Langhorne Creek. After working a vintage at Wynns Coonawarra in 1977, Neil decided to study Wine Production and Marketing at Roseworthy College. After he graduated in 1980, he worked in the Clare Valley as a winemaker for various wineries for the next few years before starting Pikes with his brother Andrew in 1984. After 10 years working as full time winemaker for another winery (and for Pikes after hours and weekends), Neil decided to focus on Pikes full time in 1993.
Andrew Pike was introduced to the wine industry at an early age through his father’s own vineyard developments at Langhorne Creek and Padthaway. Andrew attended Roseworthy Agricultural College, graduating in 1976 with a Diploma in Agriculture, and immediately joined Wynns Coonawarra Estate. After almost 4 years at Coonawarra, Andrew left the south east and joined Penfolds Wines in October 1979 to establish a new vineyard project at Clare in the mid north of South Australia. The seeds for Pikes Wines were almost immediately sown, as Andrew quickly realised the potential of the Clare Valley. Andrew rapidly progressed through the viticultural ranks of Penfolds, ultimately his role became General Manger Vineyard Operations for the Southcorp Wine Group where he was responsible for over 6000 hectares of corporate vineyards and all of the grape supply for the group on a global basis. During this time there, he was also involved in the establishment of Pikes Wines in the Polish Hill River Valley sub region of Clare. In 1998, Andrew resigned his position at Southcorp to assist his brother Neil in the running of the Pikes family business. Today the estate has 75 hectares of vineyards planted from 1984-2003. The majority of the vines are planted on their own rootstock with a diverse range of clonally selected varieties used. A small amount of Riesling, Viognier and Tempranillo is planted on different rootstock. Clare is generally regarded as one of the safest high quality viticultural districts in Australia in respect to the risk of pest and disease of grapevines. The low rainfall and low humidity which typifies this region during the growing season is not conducive to a high risk of fungal disease. The vineyard and surrounding property are managed in a sustainable way such that inputs of chemicals are kept to a minimum and, wherever possible, the Pikes prefer to use organic or elemental fungicides and biological forms of weed control eg. straw mulch under vines. It is not always possible however, and they retain a pragmatic approach to pest and disease control which gives them the flexibility and security required in terms of insuring their annual production.
The Pikes have planted many hundreds of native and indigenous trees and shrubs during their tenure, and they still have many more to plant in the future. Water conservation and environmental sustainability is a priority component of their overall land management philosophy and they hope to ultimately leave the property in better shape than when they found it. They have founded, and are still actively involved with, a local Natural Resources Management Group (the Hill River NRM Group Inc.) which aspires to protect and enhance the natural ecological biodiversity of their small but significant part of the Clare Valley.
The philosophy of Poderi Fiorini translates into the belief that details make the difference, and that's why the team works to create wines that not only embody the characteristics of the Lambrusco terroir, but have an unmistakable style of their own. Hence the use of the most modern equipment and the estate's collaboration with a nationally renowned winemaker to ensure the finest possible wines.
Brother and sister Alberto and Cristina Fiorini are now at the helm and continue to produce outstanding Lambrusco, one of the most typical and authentic wines of the province of Modena. Should you have the chance to visit them, they also produce a heavenly Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale Di Modena “Affinato” (aged for 12 years in wood) and “Extravecchio” (aged for 25 years in wood) that we heartily recommend.
Robert Sinskey Vineyards
Founded on a conviction that artisanal winemaking begins with the care of the land, Robert, along with winemaker Jeff Virnig, quietly converted their vineyards to biodynamic practices beginning in 1991. Looking beyond the vineyard, the Sinskey estate has reduced its carbon footprint further, by generating 75% of the energy used at the winery through solar photovoltaic installations and the brewing of bio-diesel, made from used restaurant oil, to power machinery.
Robert Sinskey believes that the goals of making luxuriously elegant wines and farming with earth friendly methods are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, he has found that caring for the land and conscientious business practices have helped to define the well-crafted and characterful Robert Sinskey wines.
Robert and Jeff approach the cellar as purists, to craft wines that are true and pure. The guiding principle that “wine is not an athletic event” has allowed the wines of Robert Sinskey Vineyards to stay true to vineyard and variety. Elegance over brawn has always been the house style and the estate does not submit wine for review by score-centric critics; because to taste wine in a competitive atmosphere, without food on the table, encourages wines that shout, ignoring subtle wines of balance, finesse and elegance... the attributes that define the fine wines of Robert Sinskey Vineyards.
Robert Sinskey’s wife, Maria Helm Sinskey, is the winery’s resident chef and her influence is clearly expressed in the wines, which are indisputably food-friendly.
Perhaps the Robert Sinskey winery’s ethos is best summarised in Maria’s mantra:
"Eat seasonally, drink good wine and live a long and prosperous life."
Robert Sinskey's vineyards are certified by C.C.O.F. - California Certified Organic Farmers. Due to the fee structure of Demeter USA, the estate no longer uses the trademarked words “Demeter” or “Biodynamic” as of the 2012 vintage - no matter, Robert Sinskey Vineyards has not changed its farming philosophy.
Rolf Binder and his sister Christa are the second generation of this wine family based in the heart of the Barossa Valley. After graduating from Roseworthy, Rolf joined his father in 1982 in their old winemaking shed in Langmeil Road. A new winery was built a short distance away in 1999, and their old wooden press also made the journey. This press is one of the keys to Rolf's winemaking style and, when asked how old it was, Rolf replied "They found the press but they didn't find the ark!" Christa has worked for various vineyards around the world and for Wolf Blass nearer home, specialising in white wine production. She has brought her expertise back to the family business to make the white wines and Rolf, with several overseas vintages of his own under his belt along with the secrets learnt at his father's side, creates great Barossa reds. This unique brother and sister winemaking team have taken Rolf Binder wines to the world.
Rust En Vrede
At the end of 1977, the Engelbrecht family took up residence on the Rust en Vrede estate. The Engelbrecht family had been grape growers since the early 1700s but they became winemakers for the first time only when they moved to Rust en Vrede. Jannie Engelbrecht produced Rust en Vrede‘s first wines of the modern era in 1978, and for the last 37 years her family has specialised in producing red wines with the focus on Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The 55 hectares of Rust en Vrede is a remarkable example of exquisite landscaping. The underground cellar was the first of its kind for a privately owned South African winery. Designed by renowned architect Gawie Fagan, the perfectly temperature controlled environment is of invaluable benefit to the production and bottle maturation of Rust en Vrede’s unique wines.
Many accolades have been bestowed upon the estate. Two of the most memorable events were when Rust en Vrede was chosen by President Nelson Mandela to be served at the Nobel Peace Prize dinner and when the Engelbrecht family played host to the Queen of Denmark for lunch at the Manor House. Rust en Vrede was nominated as the first South African red wine in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the World and repeated this achieved for four consecutive years.
Rust en Vrede Estate is located just outside Stellenbosch, towards False Bay and nestled on the lower slopes of the impressive Helderberg Mountain, with a view on Table Mountain to the West. The vineyards are mostly situated on north facing slopes, with a small portion facing northeast and northwest. Rust en Vrede is shielded from the powerful south easterly wind by the Helderberg and Stellenbosch mountains, and protected from the south westerly Atlantic winds by the foothills of the Helderberg. As a result, it lies in a warmer microcosm allowing it to specialise in producing red wines. Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon in particular lend themselves to full bodied wines with powerful structure.
The soil at Rust en Vrede is a mixture of decomposed granite from the Helderberg Mountain and Table Mountain sandstone. Iron stone and weakly degraded granite pieces increase the drainage in very rich soils, which is an important influence on the quality of the grapes produced.
A philosophy of precision viticulture is applied and vineyards are managed in an environmentally conscious way. Today, Rust en Vrede continues to be a fine example of what Stellenbosch is all about and it strives to be a driving force in promoting the region, its wines and, ultimately, its country.
Rustenberg has a wine-growing history dating back to 1682, when Roelof Pasman recognised its vine-growing potential. By 1781, some 3000 cases of wine were produced on the farm each year. Production doubled by the end of the century and a new cellar was built, where wine has been bottled for an unbroken period since 1892.
In the early 1800s, Rustenberg was divided by the then owner Jacob Eksteen and a section was given to his son-in-law, who named it Schoongezicht and sold it soon after. Investment and development at Rustenberg and Schoongezicht hit a peak around 1812, resulting in beautiful homesteads and flourishing vineyards. But, by the middle of the century, recession coupled with vine disease brought bankruptcy and dispossession.
Schoongezicht was rescued in 1892 by future prime minister John X. Merriman, and Rustenberg by his brother-in-law Sir Jacob Barry. Together, they revitalised the estates. Fruit was sent to Covent Garden; new vines were grafted onto disease-resistant American rootstock; wines were exported to England and continental Europe, even as far afield as Siberia.
In 1941 Peter and Pamela Barlow bought Rustenberg, later acquiring Schoongezicht and reuniting the properties. Peter lovingly restored many of the old buildings on the property and developed the farming capacity of the estate by building dams and renovating the winery.
Their son, Simon, took over the running of the farm in 1987, having run Nooitgedacht, a property on the foothills of the Helderberg Mountain in Stellenbosch for a number of years. Simon reinvigorated the property as South Africa emerged from post-Apartheid isolation. He built a new winery and imported modern virus free clones and grape varieties to replant the estate’s vineyards. Simon is actively involved in the everyday running of the farm, along with his wife Rozanne who is responsible for the grounds and gardens.
Simon and Rozanne’s son, Murray, farms full time with his parents, having returned from completing his Masters in Oenology from The University of Adelaide in Australia in 2012. Murray has brought a renewed passion and a modern outlook to the operation, and he is primarily involved in the winemaking and marketing on the property.
The Barlows have now been at Rustenberg for over 70 years, the longest period that any one family has owned the estate.
San Giorgio A Lapi
The Gallo Nero or black rooster has long been the emblem of the entire Chianti region and, more recently, of Chianti Classico wines. Exactly why this is the case is not known, but there are several stories claiming to explain it. One such story relates to the long-lived rivalry existing in the Middle Ages between the republics of Siena and Florence. In order to bring an end to their ceaseless battles, these cities decided to settle the location of their common border by means of a competition between two knights. The knights were to set out on horseback from their respective towns at cockcrow, and the point at which they met would be the frontier between the two republics. The citizens of Siena raised a beautiful white rooster which grew sleek and fat. The Florentines, however, chose a black rooster and never fed him, so that on the day of the race the black rooster was so famished that he started to crow even before sunrise. As a result, the Florentine knight was able to set out much earlier than the Sienese knight whom he met at Fonterutoli, near Castellina, merely 12km from Siena. As a result, almost all of the Chianti territory was united under the rule of the Florentine Republic. The Black Rooster profile was the emblem of the historic Chianti League, which ruled over these lands from the beginning of the 14th century, and Giorgio Vasari painted the Black Rooster on the ceiling of the Salone Dei Cinquecento in the Palazzo Vecchio as an allegorical representation of the Chianti region.
The San Giorgio A Lapi estate has produced wines since 1700, but its origins date back even further in time: to 1109, when the church of San Giorgino was founded. It was donated to the abbot of the monastery of San Pietro A Roti and then given to the monks of the order of Camaldolese di Montegrimaldi. The tumultuous fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw the monastery first abandoned and then destroyed by the armies of Charles V and Cosimo I during the siege of Siena in 1554. Saint George returned to favour in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the oratory of San Giorgino was constructed on top of the ruins of the former monastery. Reborn and enriched with a fresco of the saint fighting the dragon, this seventeenth century embellishment was uncovered during the restoration work of the Simoni family as they returned San Giorgio A Lapi to its former splendour.
The Simoni family purchased the San Giorgio A Lapi estate in 1977, when Aldo Simoni's intuition and his passion for Chianti convinced him to take the plunge and draw upon his experience of winemaking gained further north in Trentino. His attention to detail and his desire for harmony and balance prevailed, and the world had to wait until 1999 to enjoy the first bottles labelled San Giorgio A Lapi. These are wines made with as little human intervention as possible, produced only from grapes of superior quality and only by employing techniques and intelligent processes that enhance what nature provides. With time, the Simoni family has amassed even greater knowledge and experience of its domaine, and constant fine tuning has enabled the estate to improve and develop even further.
Although 100 hectares in area, the vines of San Giorgio A Lapi are planted only in the most suitable locations: in some of the stoniest soils of Chianti Classico and in the clay and tufa soil of Chianti Colli Senesi. In each vineyard, vines are cultivated according to the specific characteristics of the soil and the microclimate of that plot. After careful selection, only the best grapes are vinified - it is a rule at San Giorgio A Lapi that the bunches of grapes that are not of the highest quality are not used in its wines. The grapes from each individual vineyard and plot are fermented separately to respecting their distinctive characteristics, and this separation continues through the subsequent processes of ageing. It is only at the bottling stage that these separate cuvées are blended to create the finest wines possible, and a further period of ageing in bottle is given for these blends to meld harmoniously.
Scotto Family Cellars
Salvatore Scotto was a farmer, sailor and winemaker on Ischia, a small island west of Naples. He taught his son Dominic two skills that eventually shaped his life: repairing boats and making wine. Dominic became a ship’s caulker and moved his family to New York in 1903, where he and his crews travelled up and down the east coast repairing and building wooden sailing ships. In between jobs he made wine for the family table and for his neighbours, which he sold in five gallon jugs from a horse drawn wagon. When Prohibition ended, Dominic and his brothers opened one of Brooklyn’s first liquor stores: it's still in business today, albeit under different ownership.
Continuing the family tradition, Dominic taught his sons to make wine and Anthony, the second youngest, also picked up his father’s sales skills. By 1940, Anthony was pushing a two wheeled cart through the neighbourhood selling gallon jugs of red wine. Like the generations before him, Dominic expected to have good wine on the dinner table every night, and the dark days of World War II impressed on him the importance of making good wine that sold for reasonable prices. This is the passion that still drives the Scotto family.
In 1953, Anthony and his brothers purchased a small Brooklyn wine company, consisting of just one salesman who only spoke Italian! Ten years later, Anthony purchased a California winery and moved west, turning the Brooklyn business over to his brothers. He endured the inevitable boom and bust cycles that challenge vintners worldwide, but continued the family tradition of passing his winemaking skills to his children while instilling the importance of selling good wines at reasonable prices.
Today, Scotto Family Cellars makes small lots of artisanal wines in Lodi, paying tribute to their ancestors via the ship's sail on the labels. The winery is owned and operated by Anthony Scotto III, a 5th generation winemaker, with help from his sister Natalie and his brother Paul. It won't be long until the winery will also employ the 6th generation of Scottos, in the shape of Anthony’s son Santino.
Media attention to the Scotto wines has been growing of late, with the Old Vine Zinfandel appearing on Jancis Robinson’s Purple Pages website and inspiring this comment from Simon Woods: “Why aren’t there more wines like this from California?… It’s hard to think of a wine business that wouldn’t benefit from such a wine.”
Mitch Cosentino has recently joined Scotto Family Wines as consultant winemaker, working closely with Paul Scotto at their Napa Valley winery. Mitch is a self-taught winemaker, tasting and visualising wine in shapes. He believes that, “a perfect wine is a square. I try to describe wine as a picture”. He is known as a master blender, able to craft amazing wines from "pieces and parts".
Señorío De San Vicente
Back in the early 1980s, Guillermo Eguren started a mass selection of Tempranillo Peludo vines from the family's finest old vineyards. He chose vines with low vigour, low yields and smaller-sized clusters of grapes to provide the most charcacterful wine possible. A few years later, in 1985, in the hills surrounding San Vicente de la Sonsierra, he used these selected vines to plant an 18 hectare vineyard called La Canoca. This privileged spot is characterised by its rugged topography and abundant south-facing slopes, all of them nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de Cantabria which protects it from the cold north winds off the Atlantic.
The result of this gamble upon quality and singularity is a wine that beautifully encapsulates the virtues of Tempranillo Peludo and its harmonious relationship with the soil and the climate in which it is grown. Since its first vintage in 1991, San Vicente has been regarded as a modern classic, matching its intensity of fruit with complexity from new oak and longevity from its concentration and structure.
With their roots in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, five generations of the Eguren family have built a harmonious relationship between man and vineyard to express all of the virtues of the unique Tempranillo grape in their outstanding Rioja wines. Guillermo Eguren, father of the current winemakers Marcos and Miguel, describes himself as a vine collector such is his passion for his vineyards. His sons have embraced his principles of viticultural excellence, and of respecting the fruit throughout the winemaking process, to produce Rioja of the utmost purity that beautifully reflects its terroir.
The Eguren family work largely biodynamically, i.e. according to nature’s cycles, using observation and astrology to create a close link with their vineyards and their environment. The Sierra Cantabria vineyards are used to create their own treatments, fertilisers and preparations, completely respecting the natural balance and its ability to regulate itself. This approach enhances and cares for the life in the soil, encouraging the presence of beneficial micro-organisms that interact with the soil and the vine. A healthy vineyard planted in healthy soils is better prepared to resist any damage or disease. Should a treatment be needed then natural solutions are applied, contact treatments which do not penetrate the plant or the grapes, respecting both the plant and the environment. The objective is to achieve natural and healthy vineyards in harmony with active and pure soils, so as to obtain healthy, honest, genuinely distinctive wines.
At the foot of the Sierra Cantabria mountains, protected from the cold northern winds, lies the town of San Vicente de la Sonsierra. The shelter of the 1200m high Sierra Cantabria mountains and the influence of the wide River Ebro create a special microclimate with both Mediterranean and Continental characteristics, providing mild winters and gentle summers that are ideal for grape growing. The diuranal temperature swing in the summer creates an increase in the level of polyphenols and preserves acidity, two of the characteristics associated with excellent quality wines.
The gentle, rolling hills of the Sierra Cantabria vineyard landscape sits on calcareous clay soil that is high in limestone and poor in organic matter, nutrients and mineral salts; again, ideal for grape growing. The abundance of rounded stones, alluvium and gravel within the soil creates a perfect balance of drainage and water retention. Cracks in the rocks that make up the subsoil encourage the roots of the vines to burrow deeply in search of nourishment, aiding the balance of flavours within the grapes and highlighting in the finished wine the environment in which they were grown.
Sierra Cantabria, Viñedos Sierra Cantabria, Señorío de San Vicente and Viñedos de Páganos are the Eguren family estates in Rioja, alongside Teso La Monja in Toro.
The winery, nestled at the top of the town, is run by Jacques Sipp and his wife, Laura. Nine generations of Jacques’ family have made wine on this site, beginning in 1698.
Sipp Mack is the fruit of the union of two local winemaking families. The winery was formed in 1959, with the marriage of François Sipp of Ribeauvillé and Marie Louise Mack of Hunawihr. In 1983, following his studies in viticulture, oenology and business, and after two years’ work with farms and wineries in the United States, Jacques returned to Alsace to join his parents at the family estate. He brought Laura, a graduate of the University of California Davis Viticulture and Oenology program, back to France with him in 1985.
Jacques and Laura introduced a new vision to the vineyard and winery operations. Their desire to offer consistently top quality wines that reflect the land that they come from led them to combine Alsatian traditions with modern technology, all while protecting the environment.
The Sipp Mack estate harvests and vinifies grapes grown on approximately 22 hectares of vineyards located within four kilometers of the winery, in the villages of Hunawihr, Ribeauvillé and Bergheim. The terroirs (soils) are varied, but essentially they consist of calcareous clay.
Sipp Mack's vines are cultivated using organic farming methods. The family’s choice to convert to organic status reflects its desire to work in a healthy atmosphere, without pesticides and chemical fertilisers. They also wish to preserve the environment by fostering the natural balance between the soil and the vines to create dynamic ecosystems. The Sipps encourage the biodiversity of fauna and flora through the use of cover crops and the maintenance of bush hedges - home to many small birds, insects and animals. They avoid soil erosion by carefully preserving old stone walls and, through composting and tilling, they improve the aeration of the soils which helps to maintain ideal levels of humidity.
These actions create healthy vines that are more insect and disease resistant and produce more flavoursome, better balanced fruit. To further improve fruit quality, yields are voluntarily reduced by pruning the canes short in winter and by thinning the immature grape bunches in summer.
Sol De Andes
Poor soils, excellent exposure to sunshine and the absence of rain at harvest time are unique and invaluable conditions for the production of quality wines in Chile. On its daily journey over the Andes to the Pacific, the sun illuminates the vineyards and this was the inspiration for the Sol De Andes ("Sun From The Andes") name. The 450 hectares of Sol De Andes vineyards are located in the foothills of the Andes in the Maule, Casablanca and Colchagua Valleys where the influence of the Pacific moderates the climate and where the diurnal temperature fluctuation preserves the balance and freshness of the wines.
The Sol De Andes winery sits next to its oldest vineyards in San Clemente in the Maule Valley, where cutting-edge technology and traditional winemaking skills are combined to enable them to make the best possible wines.
In essence, the Spice Route Winery's name reflects what the vineyard, the wines and the people are all about. It recalls the spirit of the 15th century mariners who braved the tempestuous waters around the Cape of Good Hope as they plied their trade, bringing exotic spices from the far east to Europe along the Spice Route. In much the same way, Charles Back went sailing into largely uncharted waters on his route to realising the viticultural potential of his part of the Swartland wine region. Spice Route’s name is equally evocative of the style of wines being made: rich, complex yet infinitely enjoyable, with ripe fruit of the finest quality skilfully enhanced through careful oaking… much as carefully selected spices bring out the flavours of food.
Staglin Family Vineyard
The wines include a Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay together with a very small amount of Sangiovese, each expressive of the unique characteristics of their Rutherford estate, and reflective of the fastidious care and attention invested in their viticultural and production practices.
“Great wines for great causes” has long been the company motto. Shari and Garen Staglin’s son, Brandon, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1990; with treatment and family support, Brandon was able to recover. However the family realised that advancements in scientific research were vital to understanding mental illness; subsequently the Staglin Family have donated and raised in excess of $800 million for mental health charities.
Why the name Stanley Estates?
Stanley the Land Rover took them on a 30,000 kilometre adventure - from Bath to Cape Town over 15 months in 1991. It was named after Sir Henry Morton Stanley, the famed African explorer. After their epic journey in Stanley Rover, they spent a further two years under African skies establishing an export program on a vegetable farm just north of Cape Town. After a year in the UK from 1994, they travelled the world as fruit technologists, auditing growers and pack-houses for UK retailers.
Wanting to run their own business in a beautiful and stimulating environment, in 2003 they came across the exceptional terrain of the Awatere Valley and bought 11 hectares at the foot of Mount Tapuae-O-Uenuku ("the footprint of the rainbow" in Maori). Bridget and Steve started work the day they arrived on their new block of bare land. They planted 7 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and 3 hectares of Pinot Noir with Dijon clones in the stony Dashwood loam soils. Two years later, they bought a small neighbouring block called Little Oasis, which was already planted with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc on its stony riverbed soils. In 2006, they transformed another bare plot just opposite Stanley, on the southern side of Stafford Creek, into a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard they call the SECC block.
They now have just over 20 hectares planted predominantly to Sauvignon Blanc, but also to Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Albariño, Lagrein and Chardonnay. Steve runs the vineyards with the help of a succession of international backpackers. Great care and meticulous attention to detail is paid to tending the vines to get the right fruit to canopy balance which varies with the soil types of each block. The vines are grown on a vertical shoot positioning trellis with two and three lifting wires. Leaf-plucking improves airflow around the fruit and minimises disease pressure, whilst the Pinot Noir simply needs more exposure to the sun. Harvest time is mid March to mid April.
The team is complemented by viticulturalist Jeremy Hyland, and by noted winemaker Eveline Fraser, whose expertise and experience guide them towards picking each block at its optimum point of maturity and flavour.
The vineyard is at the top of the Southern Alps, nestled under Mount Tapuae-O-Uenuku which strongly influences the climate with its rain shadow bestowing low rainfall and low humidity upon the Awatere Valley. Along with sunny days and cool nights, this creates perfect conditions for slow, steady ripening and flavour development. Awatere grapes have a distinctive fruity yet steely and herbaceous flavour, quite different from those produced elsewhere in Marlborough.
Sustainable viticulture has been the foundation of the vineyard's practices since the outset. Stanley Estates joined Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand in its early days and became an accredited grower in 2005. To Bridget and Steve, sustainability is the foundation of their philosophy and underpins all activities on the vineyard, big or small, each growing season.
Domenico came from a family of farmers who were so dedicated to their vineyards and fields that in Montà they were given the nickname of "Re Cit" - "Little Kings" in the local dialect. At that time, all of the family's vineyards were close to Montà, in Bossola, Rolandi and Benna. In the mid-seventies, the estate expanded towards Langhe thanks to the actions of Domenico's son, Michele. He bought vineyards and a farmhouse in Montersino, close to the hamlet of San Rocco Seno d'Elvio, between the towns of Treiso and Barbaresco.
Twenty years later, in the mid-nineties, two of Michele's four sons, (Alberto at first and, after gaining experience on other estates, Ezio) began to renovate the farm. They set about improving their viticultural practices to produce better grapes and refining the winemaking methodologies they employed to make better wines. Today, Ezio is the oenologist and the Taliano Michele estate owns 12 hectares of prime vineyards in the region.
Tenuta Cavalier Pepe
The Pepe family is an historic wine family from Irpinia in Campania, around 40 kilometers from Naples. With 55 hecatres of vines and 11 hectares of olive trees, they represent the true face of Campanian agriculture.
Today, twenty one DOC wines are produced in Campania and of the four DOCG wines, three come from Irpinia, the birthplace of tenuta Cavalier Pepe.
Following his intuition and his love of the area, the entrepreneur Angelo Pepe worked tirelessly on his land to develop what is now a wine cellar, restaurant and bed and breakfast.
His merit and far-sightedness were appreciated so much that in 1998 his work was recognised by the President of the Republic by making him a Cavaliere della Republica per meriti sul lavoro - a Knight of the Republic of Italy. Today the estate is managed by his eldest daughter, Milena who studied viticulture in France and marketing in Belgium and who manages the estate with care and skill making it one of the foremost producers in this highly sought-after area.
Hard work and belief is the motto of the Pepe family and this follows through into the work on the estate. The high quality of the wines produced is mirrored by their dedication to high quality food (Slow Food) in their restaurant and should any of our clients want further information on eating or staying there, please don't hesitate to get in contact. You won't be disappointed and you'll eat and drink to the highest levels.
Tenuta La Marchesa
In 1750, the Marques Sauli, scion of an ancient and powerful family of Genoese bankers, was preparing for his daughter's wedding. However, either the family's house did not measure up to the bride's aspirations or her young husband-to-be was particularly ambitious, and the decision was made to build a beautiful villa in the centre of the estate. It was to be named La Marchesa in honour of the young bride, and would feature its own chapel and an orangerie to preserve precious citrus fruit through the winter.
It is said that Napoleon spent a night at La Marchesa and subsequently, during the area's silk boom, the villa became the country house of the most important family in the area. Over the years the estate belonged to different families and shrank in size but, thanks to the Giulini family, La Marchesa has been returned to its original splendour. They have reacquired the same 188 acres of land that belonged to the property in 1750, and, as well as carefully restoring the chapel and the orangerie, the Sauli villa has been transformed into a luxury agritourism destination with its own restaurant. The 150 acres of vineyards surround the villa in a contigious plot and Tenuta La Marchesa is one of the largest properties in the Gavi DOC.
Despite its size, viticulture and vinification are performed as ecologically as possible and all of the wines produced are given only the most minute dosages of sulphur dioxide.
Terra De Asorei
The Terra De Asorei winery is located in Cambados, the capital of Albariño growing, right in the heart of the Salnés Valley. The Atlantic influence on the climate of the Salnés Valley results in mild temperatures and abundant, not excessive, rainfall. The experience of the growers combined with the most up-to-date technology gives the Terra De Asorei winery a production capacity of up to one million bottles.
Teso La Monja
This is the second time that the Eguren family has invested in the Toro region. Marcos and Miguel Eguren founded Numanthia-Termes, their original Toro estate, in 1998, and then created Teso La Monja in 2007 after selling it to LVMH. Their love for Toro remained undimmed, but Teso La Monja was born with a different approach. The deep roots of its old vine Tinta De Toro (Tempranillo) vines translate the pure minerality of the soil into powerful yet elegant red wines.
The vineyards have an average age of 50 years old, but some are ungrafted, pre-phylloxera vines that are around 130 years old. Planted on north-facing, loam and gravel soils, this allows for longer growing periods to achieve rich yet balanced wines which transmit the maximum potential of the soils’ minerality. The Egurens practice the same sustainable agriculture methods used by their predecessors to preserve the natural balance of the vineyard and they work according to the cycles and biorhythms of the vines.
The restrained and beautiful architecture of the Teso La Monja winery perfectly links a state-of-the-art vision of winemaking with the experience, heritage and know-how passed down from father to son.
The Stellenbosch Reserve
Two of the wines are named after iconic Stellenbosch buildings, designed by German architect Carl Otto Hager in the late 1800s. The Moederkerk, or Mother Church, is arguably Stellenbosch’s most beautiful church, a clean, white, towering example of neo-Gothic architecture which was completed and consecrated in 1863. Ou Hoofgebou, meaning Old Main Building, was built following a desire to erect a monument in commemoration of the town’s bicentenary in 1879. Part of the University, Ou Hoofgebou marks the importance of education in the town, both then and now.
Trentham’s winery has been operating since 1988, where it has grown from the initial 30 tonne crush to a minimal but state-of-the-art facility handling up to 5,000 tonnes of top quality grapes each vintage. It allows the flexibility to perform different winemaking styles, resulting in the diverse and always consistent Trentham Estate wines. Today, Anthony is assisted with the making of Trentham’s wines by winemakers Shane Kerr and Mark Holm, along with a dedicated team of cellar and laboratory staff. The winemaking philosophy at Trentham Estate has always been to produce high-quality, monovarietal wines at an affordable price, with an emphasis on full fruit flavour and enjoyment. Anthony and his brother Patrick have a passion for producing wines that are true to their varietal character, as well as experimenting with lesser-known grape varieties that are likely to thrive in the Mediterranean climate of Mildura and the Murray Darling region.
The 46 hectares that make up Trentham Estate’s vineyards sit on a winding banks of the Murray River at Trentham Cliffs. The ideal terroir of red loam over limestone soils, combined with nurturing water from the Murray River, allows the vines to flourish. Meticulously managed by viticulturist Patrick Murphy, the vineyards today are planted with over twenty different grape varieties and the oldest vines were planted over half a century ago. Harvest at Trentham typically begins in mid to late January – slightly earlier than in most Australian wine regions due to the warmer climate of the Murray Darling area. Grapes are picked and crushed at optimum ripeness to retain the perfect flavours in the wines.
The fruit for the sparkling wines and the varieties made into lower-alcohol styles, such as Sémillon, is harvested first. The other white and red varieties follow during February and March, according to their levels of ripeness. The very last grape variety to go through the crusher is the Taminga in April or May. This allows the fruit for the noble dessert wine to develop good levels of botrytis which encourages sugar concentration and development of flavour. The fruit for Trentham’s Family Reserve range of wines is transported from its growing region directly to Trentham Estate as soon as harvesting is complete. This allows the grapes to be loaded into the crusher within hours, pressed, fermented and the wine transferred to French and American oak barrels for maturation. Trentham Estate also sources parcels of high-quality fruit from a number of local growers each vintage.
As well as working hard to minimise its impact on the environment and to aid local communities wherever possible, Valle Andino has developed a project in conjunction with the Maule Regional Government, the University of Talca and the Chicureo bird reproduction site for the conservation and reproduction of the Tricahue parrot, currently an endangered species.
Vega Badenes is a modern Bodega based in La Mancha. It is just 15 years old yet in this time it has become one of the leaders in supplying high quality table wines in Spain.
However, the family history as fruit growers goes back three generations and they are also one of the largest producers of Olive Oil in Andalusia. All things are based on quality. They strive to offer high quality products at affordable prices and we hope you will agree with us that they have succeeded with the Tierra de Castilla wines we have seceted for you.
The winery is based in Manzanares, close to Cuidad Real and boasts a production of 40 million litres per annum. Everything is high-tech as you would assume for such a young winery and this modernism ensures a strict quality control ensuring each bottle is perfect when it reaches you.
Vieux Château Perey
Vigneti Le Monde
The area began to gain significance around the year 1000, under the dominion of the Republic of Venice. La Serenissima (the Venetian Republic) constructed numerous villas in this region and developed its agricultural resources by connecting nearby farms located along watercourses to the Venetian Lagoon. The winery of Le Monde was the wine-growing business of Villa Giustinian in Portobuffolè, an ancient village that was already documented in 997 as a castle and river harbour of the Venetian Republic. Today, it is the only rural house still operating on the lands that once belonged to the Villa. The winery headquarters are housed in eighteenth century buildings that echo the architectural characteristics of that time.
Although falling under the Friuli Grave registered designation of origin, Le Monde is characterised by a calcareous clayey soil that differs from the soils found in the usually gravelly areas known as Grave. For this reason it is considered to be a distinct cru. Today, the Le Monde vineyards cover some 40 hectares and they are all over 30 years of age, giving excellent quality fruit. The soil, exposure and micro-climate all add to the impressive nature of their wines and their adoption of reasoned agriculture techniques means that chemical pesticides are kept to a minimum.
Originally the property of the Pistoni family, the Le Monde winery and vineyards were bought by Alex Maccan in 2008.
Viñedos De Páganos
The cellar sits in the exceptional El Puntido vineyard, the name of which was taken from an old word meaning "staircase landing" thanks to the similarity of shape that this land forms between the Sierra de Cantabria and the Ebro River valley. The area is predominantly influenced by an Atlantic climate, although it has continental nuances due to the shelter from the cold, north winds afforded by the Sierra de Cantabria.
The soils of the Viñedos de Páganos estate are calcareous clay or clay-loam in texture with a sandstone subsoil, giving the vineyard, and therefore its wines, a unique mineral personality. Tempranillo is perfectly adapted to these soils, and beautifully expresses the terroir in which the vineyard is planted.
Viñedos Sierra Cantabria
Following their philosophy of getting great wines from unique and exclusive vineyards, they started work on the estates of La Llana, Los Terreros, Jararte, El Bosque and La Veguilla, where deeply characteristic wines such as Sierra Cantabria Organza, Sierra Cantabria Colección Privada, Finca El Bosque and Amancio were born.
These wines are the result of a meticulous selection of the bunches, which in many cases have been de-stalked by hand and crushed in the traditional way in order to achieve the smoothest possible extraction of flavour, colour and tannins. This all takes place in a winecellar that was constructed by the Eguren family using stone from their very own estate, as a tribute to the earth which both they and their land form a part of.
Finca El Bosque, La Veguilla, Los Terreros and Jarrarte form the collection of Sonsierra vineyards that are embranced by Viñedos Sierra Cantabria, in conjunction with La Llana in Rioja Alavesa. These vineyards give birth to some of Rioja's most prestigious wines; wines that are genuinely distinctive, pure and that portray the true identity of their terroir.
The Eguren family only uses organic material and treatments on the vineyards and they work according to nature’s cycles, carrying out tasks accordingly to create a harmonious link with the vineyard and the environment.
Vini La Delizia
Aside from producing highly enjoyable wines, in collaboration with leading research institutes and centres La Delizia cultivates over 100 hectares of vineyards planted with indigenous grape varieties of Friuli, aiming to build upon and improve the region's rich wine heritage.
The Wairpara Springs property was established by the Moore and Grant Families. Bruce and Jill Moore have lived on the property for many years and together they planted the first grapevines in the region back in 1982. Waipara Springs puts a strong emphasis on vineyard management, with a small team of experienced workers diligently tending the vines throughout the growing season. Because all of the wines are crafted from estate grown fruit, the quality is carefully controlled at every stage from the vine to the bottle. New French oak barriques are purchased each year and the winery upgrades its equipment regularly.
Waipara Springs has long produced a range of wines that consistently wins national and international acclaim. From succulent Sauvignon Blanc, fine Riesling and rich Chardonnay to intensely concentrated Pinot Noir, Waipara Springs has always set a high standard in New Zealand wine.
Due to his philosophy of uncompromising quality, it was not long before he became successful: his wines immediately started to receive praise at numerous wine tastings and were awarded a number of prizes. In 1992, the estate winery was passed on to his son Gunter.
Originally, the winery was established in the family home but due to hard work and healthy growth it expanded steadily. It wasn’t long before the business outgrew these premises and, in 2006, Künstler moved into the Art Nouveau villa that used to house Burgeff, one of the most pre-eminent German sparkling wine producers of previous times.
Aiming to provide ideal conditions for producing top-quality wines and to look after his customers in the best way possible, Gunter Künstler put a great deal of time and effort into improving the wine cellars, the vineyard operations, the wine shop and the function rooms. The current premises not only offers a unique, authentic ambience but also sufficient space for the wine-making facilities and for customers who are always welcome to visit.
In order to make their wines, the Künstlers use the latest equipment but they are not solely reliant upon technology: above all, winemaking requires great sensitivity and the accumulated knowledge that is passed from one generation to the next. It is not analytical values that determine the quality but the taste of the grapes, the aroma of the musts and, above all, the harmony of the wines. There needs to be a perfect balance between residual sugar, alcohol and acidity to create wines with great ageing potential as they do at Künstler. Ultimately, the fruitiness of the grapes and the character of each vineyard must shine through in the glass.
Künstler’s Riesling grapes are destalked, cooled and put directly into the press where they are gently crushed and cooled so as to develop its characteristic aromas. Then, depending on its origin and quality level, the juice is transferred into stainless steel vats or into traditional large wooden barrels where it ferments slowly, in a controlled fashion and at low temperatures. Depending on the nature of the vintage and the quality of the grapes, both cultured and wild yeasts can be used for fermentation. After fermentation, which takes between six and eight weeks, the wines are removed from their gross lees and are stored on their fine lees until bottling. This way they create powerful, harmonious, extract-rich, terroir-driven and lively wines with plenty of potential.
Weingut Selbach-Oster cultivates 21 hectares of vineyards on some of the best, steep slopes of the Mosel valley. One of Germany’s most spectacular wine growing areas is undoubtedly the Mosel valley. The river meanders in narrow bows through the oldest wine region of Germany and the world's largest area of extremely steep vineyards - a landscape where Celts and Romans grew wine 2000 years ago. This topography creates a unique climate which, together with primeval slate soils, produces wines that are unmistakable and unique. These exceptional Rieslings offer elegance, saltiness and a cool minerality, and they rank among the greatest white wines in the world.
The Mosel valley is famous for extremes and contradictions. On the one hand it has a mild, almost Mediterranean climate, while on the other hand it has extremely steep slopes - with gradients of up to a 60% - and rocky, meagre soil. These mostly south-facing, steep slopes allow the sun to shine directly onto the vines. The river both reflects sunlight and stores warmth, as do the slate stones which also retain heat and release it onto the vines at night. The forest above the vineyards provides shelter against cold winds. This environment permits a long, gentle growing season and a markedly late harvest, allowing the development of complex fruit flavours within a light bodied frame that is nonetheless abundant and seemingly endlessly nuanced - all with very little alcohol! The rocky, sparse, slate soils force the Riesling vines to sink their roots deeply into the ground and into the solid bedrock to find water and minerals. It is exactly this minerality that marks Mosel wines with flavours that cannot be imitated elsewhere.
98% of the vineyards are planted with Riesling, 2% with Pinot Blanc. Many of the vines are ungrafted, and some are up to 100 years old. These venerable old vines yield highly aromatic fruit from small, thick-skinned juicy berries. The family's focus on quality starts with low yields and meticulous care in each aspect of working the vines, requiring an enormous amount of hard physical work thanks to the steepness of the vineyard slopes. This is especially true during harvest, when the grapes are picked by hand over the course of multiple passes through the vines.
Fermentation takes place in the estate's cold cellars, mostly using wild, indigenous yeasts which help to preserve the fine, multifaceted aromas and the crispness of the Riesling juice. Half of the wines mature in big, old oak barrels (“Fuder”) that do not add any woody flavour to the wine, but allow it to breathe and mature. Depending upon the nature of the vintage, a spectrum of Riesling is produced, ranging from completely dry to ultra-sweet dessert wines, from elegant and delicate to rich and complex. Irrespective of the sweetness level, all of Weingut Selbach-Oster's wines exhibit the pristine minerality and relatively low alcohol typical of great Mosel Riesling.
Selbach-Oster Rieslings are not zeitgeist-driven wines that change style according to the whims of fashion, nor are they made according to a recipe. They do not seek to seduce with short-term, exotic aromas from specially cultured yeasts, aromatic enzymes or ice-cold fermentations. They are truly distinctive, wines with structure, wines that display their heritage, rooted deeply in the slate like the estate's old ungrafted vines. Shaped by their unique terroir, these wines have their own characteristics, which the Selbachs strive to preserve, and not to alter. They will age beautifully for many years and will gain complexity with age.
Click here to view the wines of J. & H. Selbach Weinkellerei, the négociant and broker arm of the Selbach-Oster estate, founded in 1920. Both belong to the Selbach family and both are managed with the same ethos and dedication to quality.
Wooing Tree Vineyard
In 2001, the family put in an offer for the land and purchased it in 2002. They took on the services of viticulturalist Robin Dicey to help set-up the vineyard and to manage it in the development stages. This enabled them to stay overseas and continue to pay the bills remotely. However, this meant that they didn't know anything about the Wooing Tree, and so when they received an email from Robin to inform them that there was a number of trees that would have to be removed they gave him permission to proceed.
Unbeknownst to the four new owners, there was a tree on their land called the Wooing Tree and it had long been a popular spot for locals to woo their lovers. The impending removal of the tree bought a lot of locals out in protest and they set about saving their tree. There were stories of people being conceived under the tree and it had a lot of history in the locals' hearts; a campaign to save the tree was soon started. The story featured in the newspapers, there was even a poetry competition to save the tree. Robin emailed his bosses once again telling them about the tree's history, and as soon as they knew the story they immediately decided that the tree not only had to stay but that it was an obvious name for their vineyard and wine label. Now the tree sits prominently in the middle of the vineyard, it appears on the logo and the vineyard is now referred to as Cromwell's iconic vineyard. It has also become a popular place for marriage proposals and weddings.
Approximately 44,000 vines were planted in 2002. The 26 hectare single vineyard site has 16 hectares planted mainly with premium clones of Pinot Noir on multiple rootstocks to give variety and complexity and to prevent phylloxera problems. The vines are planted at a density of 2666 vines per hectare using a Vertical Shoot Positioning trellis system. The vines are spur pruned, usually at 2 buds per shoot, and shoot thinned, leaf plucked, bunch thinned and green harvested all by hand during the season. Wooing Tree has a computer controlled irrigation which is monitored via Aquaflex data loggers to keep an eye on soil moisture and temperature levels. Birds are often a problem leading up to harvest and the rows of vines are netted to help to keep the birds away.