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FranceAline Beaune Anne Bavard-Brooks Batard Langelier Cantalric Christophe Dechannes Daniel Gevaert Degaches Freres Font des Ormes Jane et Sylvain Les Reves Oublies Modat Moritz-Prado Nicolas Suteau Philippe Chatillon Vins des 3 Chateaux
Whilst 2018 may well be Aline Beauné’s first ever solo vintage, she’s no stranger to winemaking in the Cote Chalonnaise. For 15 years she has been heading up the winemaking for Château de la Crée (a domaine based in nearby Santenay) when a few years ago she decided it was time to do it all herself. So when the Buxy co-operative’s lease on 5ha of her families 12ha of Montagny vines came to an end she jumped at the chance. Her 5ha are found in the commune of Saint-Vallerin and are split between; 12.5% Aligoté, 25% Bourgogne Blanc, 50% Montagny Villages and 12.5% Montagny 1er cru Chazelle. Aline really is just at the beginning of her journey and with her skills and experience, exellent vines as her raw materials, and a modern vision and passion to build and develop her wines I think she’ll take them a long long way.
Altos de San Esteban
Located in the Bierzo Alto in the municipality of Torre de Bierzo (only recently permitted into the Bierzo DO), Altos de San Esteban is a relatively new project. An idea born out of four friends, one of whom inherited just 3ha of vines from his father. The higher vineyards and red clay heavy soil profiles of Bierzo Alto, whilst different from the more traditional Mencia vineyards, allows for much later grape maturation and retention of acidity and freshness. The 2019 harvest saw Fermin Uria join as winemaker, having worked for four years at the emblematic Bierzo winery, Dominio de Tares as well as a long stint in Ribera del Duero. Viticulture in the winery is all organic, with spontaneous fermentations, low and minimal intervention in the winery.
With their cellar door opening right into the heart of Puligny-Montrachet, Domaine Anne Bavard-Brooks really is a small winery. Having taken over the vines from Anne's parents, Anne and her partner John (a former travel operator form The States ) have been working their three small plots organically and with biodynamic treatments since 2005: they were certified in 2012. The vines range principally from 35 to as old as 60 years old (in their newly acquired Corvée des Vignes plot for that goes into their Puligny). With an overall production of a few 1000 bottles, the cuvees vary from between 2-4: their Puligny-Montrachet Vielles Vignes which they regard as their jewel, but equal (in my eyes) are those under the new Burgundy AOC, Bourgogne Cote d'Or, from a mix of two prime sites: La Combe and Les Equinces.
Jeremie and his wife Claire are third generation winemakers responsible for around 24 hectares of vines (averaging 40 years old) in the Muscadet Sevre et Maine appelation to the SE of Nantes. Found a mere 50km away from the Atalantic the true joy in their wines, and the reason I have taken 4 cuvees from the same one single grape (Melon de Bourgogne), is the variety of soils on which it grows and varying time it spends aging on its lees.
Bodegas Robles is a 32-hectare family owned Bodega that has been producing sherry style Montillas since 1927. In 1999, under 3rd generation siblings Francisco and Pilar, they became certified organic and turned their attention to several agro-environmental projects to improve soil quality, help retain moisture and using crop cover to encourage new flora and insects to the vineyards. They pride themselves on sustainability, eschewing the use of excessive packaging and ideally only want to sell their Fino & Sweet PX in BIB – hence the brilliant price!
Cantalric, in the grand scheme of things, is a relatively new co-operative in the Languedoc. In 1976 three individual cellars united together to share their skills, technology and know how. Nowadays the organisation has around 250 growers with a total of 1500 hectares of land across 7 different appellations. Their vines stretch form the Alaric mountains in the Massif of Corbières to a corridor of valleys between Carcassonne and Narbonne. Their wines benefit from grapes grown in a variety of soils and climates offering concentrated, rich and varied styles, often highly original and atypical of their varietals.
Franco Ceste, having finished his own academic studies, went back home to join his father Pierguido and learn to look after the family winery. The Ceste family winery, found in the municipality of Govone in the province of Cuneo, has been around for generations but it wasn’t really until the mid 90’s that the winery started looking upwards and outwards. During the Barolo boom they quickly and efficiently started to export their wines as well experimenting with their styles, practices and wines by introducing new non-indigenous grapes varieties, experimenting with grafting and late harvests. Picking just a touch later than some, the wines of the Ceste company are characterized by the right sugar and alcohol content and a good fixed acidity.
Casa de la Ermita
Casa de la Ermita is a French “château” style house in the heart of baking hot Jumilla. With its vineyards situated at some 700 meters above sea level, the winery and its vines are found inside the “El Carche” National Park - a protected area of beauty. Founded in 1997 with their first vintage released in 1999 the winery strictly follows their philosophy to craft wine in the most natural way possible, respecting both the environment and their ancient Jumilla tradition of wine making. This winery was the first winery in Jumilla to produce organic wines.
The Castell d’Or group was founded in 2005 and consists of nine different co-operative facilities covering seven of the twelve Catalan DOs. Their aim is to bring the 9 individual wineries, and the many co-operative members that make them up, the help and support they need to ensure they have access to quality modern wine making and advice. With a staff of 28, Castell d’Or controls a total of 2,800 hectares (6,919 acres) across every single vineyard. They have a team of winemakers at three facilities all with state of the art technology where the team of four or five, led by head winemaker Joan Rabada, work on the coupage and advise on things like treatments and harvests.
Clos 93, so called because it was the 93rd winery (or Clos) to register with the Consejo Regulador de Priorat, was created only 10 years ago by two brothers and their uncle; Rubén Sabaté (winemaker), Josep Sabaté and Pepo García, in whose house and garage they make the wines. The grapes themselves come from vines in the town of El Lloar, where they are just one of two wineries. With some 108 wineries now registered in Priorat, whilst Clos 93 may not be the newest winery, but it is officially recognised as Priorat’s smallest winery, producing just 12,500 bottles.
Colás Viticultores is a small artisan winery situated in the tiny village of Alhama de Aragón in the south-western corner of Aragón. The winery was founded as recently as 2010 by brothers César and Mario Colás, though they are actually the 5th generation of Colás wine growers. Having grown grapes for the local cooperative for over a hundred years they decided to go it alone and make their one and only wine: Roque Colás, a tribute to their great-great-grandfather the original Colas responsible for buying the land. The 14ha of vineyards, in which Garnacha, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and (to a lesser extent) Merlot predominate, are located in a unique 800m high spot with dry, fresh winds and deep and varied soils. They continue to work organically, fermenting on wild yeasts with no filtration and gentle fining.
I met Daniel about 6 years ago at a wine fair in London and have had his wine at the back of my mind even since: that is right until I went to visit him in 2020 and consequently shipped a small parcel them. His story is a fascinating one: in 2001, after having worked in industry, he took the odd decision to start rearing organic cattle. He acquired a heard of 40 or so Bazadaise cows - the Kobe beef of France - that he began to rear Biodynamically and just outside the small town of Bazas to the South East of Bordeaux. In 2010 he took over the only 2 ha of vines in the commune made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. He immediately began to work the vines Biodynamically and organically, making preparations and using the manure of his prized cows to fertilize the soil. The vines are covered with clover and wild flowers all year round. In 2011 he gained the status of Bordeaux Supérieur and 2012 he made his first harvest. His wines are certified organic and are soon to achieve Biodynamic certification.
Degaches Freres, whilst now in their third generation as grape growers, have only recently (since 2009) started to produce their very own wines. One of only 60 bottlers in the region, their modest 4ha of Syrah, Viognier and Marsanne can be found at the Southern tip of the Cote-Rotie. With soils rich in granite and schist and vines as old as 30 years (those from their Maisons Blanches plot), they look to balance power, spice, fruit and elegance. They work cleanly in the vineyards adopting agriculture raisonnée a system of farming that limits treatments on the vines in a shift towards organic farming.
The De Stefani family began producing wine at the Colvendrame estate, between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Generations later, in the 1960's, they bought vines in the Piave Valley (Pra' Longo estate) and in Fossalta di Piave (Le Ronche estate) where they set up a new base and winery. Both enjoy exceptional micro-climates, due to the nearby Adriatic, the Dolomites Alps and the surrounding hills as well as a very particular “caranto” soil: a mix of Alpine white clay and minerals. Today Alessandro De Stefani produces organic wines under a very natural philosophy from old, high density, low yield vineyards. He pays homage to native varieties (like Marzemino and Raboso) and has an annual production of just 300.000 bottles from over 100 acres of vineyard. The winery only uses solar power and is 100% carbon neutral.
Font des Ormes
Azienda Ghiomo, established in the early C19th, takes its name from the Ghiomo farmhouse - formerly a monastery - in Guarene, in the heart of the Roero just 3 kms from Alba. Here the 10 hectare, 40,000 bottle-a-year winery is run and managed by viticulturist Giuseppino. The vineyards lie at the foot of the Roero hills and enjoy similar characteristics, terroir and altitude to those of La Morra, in the heart of Barolo. The soils are rich in grey marl, clay, and a little sand, which enables Giuseppino to make expressive wines with great texture and precision. Here, across his 5 vineyards: Croera, Fussot, Granda, Lavai, Rivet he grows only the three key native Piemonte varieties; Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Arneis. In 1999 he turned a corner in his winemaking and decided to stop trying to make the wines he wanted but instead the wines which best expressed the land he has.
It was only in 1959 that Isola Augusta's founder, Renzo Bassini, first saw potential in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia clay soils and vineyards in which sits the modern day winery. Replanting old vines and renovating the outhouses they were quick to modernise, replacing many of the chemical interventions with physical processes and even pioneering the use of cold fermentation in the region. Since its foundation it has
Jane et Sylvain
Jane et Sylvain is a tiny winery based in and around the prestigious Cote-de-Nuits village of Gevrey-Chambertin. The charming owners (no prizes for guessing their names) took on the tiny domaine in 1993 having acquired 1.9 hectares of Jane’s family land. The winery “Jane et Sylvain” was officially created in 1999 and since 2003 has been certified organic. They make both village and 1er Cru wines, always using native yeasts and old barriques, while varying the extraction and maceration according to what each vintage brings with the resulting wine an expression of beauty and purity. Presently the domaine covers just over 4.3 hectares.
La Vinyeta is a collection of small vineyards and olive groves in the heart of the Empordá, in an area called Mollet de Peralada. A young, family owned business it began some 15 years ago when Josep Serra purchased two old Carignan and Grenache vineyards – aged 55 and 80 years old – and kept on planting. The winery now stands at a reasonable 30 hectares. It was a few years later in 2006 that the winery was built and the first vintages of were made from over 10 varieties. In 2009 La Vinyeta became one of the first vineyards to adopt Integrated farming in the region which it has continued to develop and evolve over time.
Les Reves Oublies
On my Tour de France this January, upon leaving Bordeaux on my way to the Northern Rhone, I realised I had no winemakers to visit and break up the 500km trip. So, I found the number of Gilles Bonnefoy’s (Vins de la Madonne - a much respected winery in the Eastern Loire) and never having spoken, phone him up to ask him for any hot tips. It so happened that he had just started renting some of his old, organic Gamay vines to a young up-and-coming winemaker called Nadia Beaune who, he says, is making a very tasty wine. So come 7PM I arrive at the house/garage/winery and whilst Nadia wasn’t there, I tasted for hours with her incredibly kind boyfriend (and winemaker) Maxime. Together they have taken it upon themselves to treat the fruit of these exceptional, high quality old vines with the maximum respect and minimal intervention. They started in 2018 by making a single juicy, concentrated Gamay Pet Nat and with a number of other cuvées lined up, it won't be long before I have more.
Bodegas Loli Casado is a small family owned and family run winery in Rioja Alavesa that is as traditional and nostalgic as they come. They have 25 hectares of their own vines 425-500 metres above sea level of varying ages; 9 hectares over 70 years old, 12 between 30 and 45 and 4 hectares of newly planted vines younger than 10 years old. The current Bodega was founded by Luis in 1970 and in 2000, upon his retirement, was taken over by Loli and her husband. Whilst modernising and adapting their traditional Bodega to modern times, using a mix of French and American fine oak, they have continued to produce around 150,000 bottles a year across two very highly regarded Rioja lines, Juan de Alzate and Polus.
Bodegas los Pinos owns 60 hectares of vineyards in Fontanares, in the Alhorines valley, 700 meters above sea level and about 100km south of Valencia. The winery, which dates back to the 17th century, mainly works with young (up to 25 year old) Monsatrell, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat and Viognier vines. Having gained their organic certification in the early 90’s (the first winery in Valencia to do so) they went through a long period of renovation and modernization. In 2007 the new owners starting to experiment in making wines using local grapes and using zero added sulphur.
Domaine Modat is a modest 23 hectares of vines found in the commune of Cassagnes in the Agly Valley, 30km due west of Perpignan and 200-300m above sea level. Upon founding the estate in 2007, Philippe Modat has worked the vines organically (achieved certification in 2014) and biodynamically (not yet certified) and having moved back to working as a lawyer he has left it in the safe hands of his dynamic and hard working sons (all by the way under the age of 30). The vineyards themselves are composed predominantly of well drained Gneiss, in which are grown indigenous red and white Roussillon varieties - including 115-year-old Carignan. In the last 10 years they have built a modern carbon neutral winery and embraced biodynamic viticulture, working with restrained extraction, fermentation on wild yeasts and as little sulphur as possible.
Maison Mortiz-Prado has to be one of the newest and most exciting Alsace wineries to launch in the recent years. Winemaker Ghislain Moritz studied and cut his teeth for five years in Mercurey before moving to Portugal and then the Carpathian mountains in Romania to work for the then relatively unknown Avincis winery. It was in 2009 that he met Angela, a Columbian studying in Paris, and together they returned to Romania to successfully grow the Avincis offering. With the knowledge and a passion to start their own project they bought 5 ha of vines in Albé (the only mountainous vineyards of Alsace) and in 2018 returned to France with a young family. They work the 450m high vineyards by hand, where they grows Sylvaner, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir organically. And only one vintage in, with the unique Schist soil, altitude and a creative use of skin contact, burgundy barrels and amphorae, they are already creating exceptionally fresh, powerful and elegant wines. Watch this space. Very closely.
Mar de Envero
Mar de Enero is the new project of winemaker Miguel Angel Moreira Manyo to mates. Having passed through, lived and worked in many regions in NW Spain such as Bierzo and Tierra de León, together with the likes of Raul Pérez he decided to return to his native Galicia to create his own vision. Here in After, he where he finds the uniqueness of this Atlantic land together with its native varieties to develop his own project. He works only with native varieties, and aside from the well known Albarino , some local red grapes such as Caino , Souson which rarely make it to these shores. He is interested and has developed a number of wines with extended lees aging, using French oak and malolactic fermentation to make truly impressive and atypical Galician whites.
Bodegas Menade may have been founded as recently as 2005, but Alejandra, Marco and Richard are the 6th generation of the Rueda based Sanz wine family. Whilst their father continues to run the world renowned Bodegas Vinos Sanz, his three children decided to take another route. In looking right back to their traditional winemaking roots and in fully respecting nature allowing it to speak for itself, Menade was born. Using a mix of natural traditional winemaking and state of the art technology they are able to bring the wines of the past, into the future. And with it various biodiversity projects; an Insect Hotel (increasing insects amongst the vines by 30%), Mobile Trees (different species wheeled into vineyards to see the effects on crops) and an adjoining farm to encourage biodiversity and plant cover.
Mongarda only started back in 1978 when Bruno, having picked up bits and bobs on winemaking from his grandfather, decided to give it a go and bought a single vineyard with his wife Marinella; it was called Mongarda. Now the 10 hectare estate, spread around the village of Col San Martino and in the heart of the Valdobbiadene-Conegliano Prosecco Superiore zone, is run by their son Martino who has maintained their ethos of natural, simple, low intervention winemaking. The majority of the vineyards are on steep slopes with old vines (the Mongarda vineyard dates from the 1950's) and poor, lime conglomerate rocky soils where they pick and ferment ancient permitted Prosecco varieties, Perera, Verdiso, Bianchetta, and Boschera together with Glera.
Oriol Perez de Tudela
Oriol was born in Valls, a small town inland of Tarragona well known for its Calçots (Catalan leeks) and it's Castells (human tower). Growing up he used to help his uncle in the vineyards and cellars he managed for the local co-operative. Oriol ended up working in Telecomms but realised his work meant little to him. So he quit and started helping his uncle, and soon, having met a chemical engineer from Torres produced BIB “El Vi a Punt” together. Here he caught Rene Barbier’s attention and both having roots in Tarragona, started to produce wine together. Escabeces is the name of a small town in Tarragona where 99% of this rare Cartoixa Vermell (just a few vineyards) is planted.
Iván Vázquez Pateiro's story is very similar to that of many winemakers of his generation. Coming from a long long line of winegrowers he would watch and help his grandparents and parents tend their vines to sell to the local co-operative. Originally from Ribadavia, Iván worked - and actually still continues to work - for many wineries, beofre moving some 20km further north up the river Avia to the town of Beade. Here, with his business partner, he bought a few acres of vines to start thei own project, El Patito Feo and Saramusa! He uses only indigenous varitires (Caiño, Souson and Treixadura) where he makes a 100% Treixadura - something that few other winemakers in the region are doing. But nostalgia aside he beleives it is not about making the same wines your parents make, but rather to improve and advance them. 2018 is ony Iván's second vintage to date but already he is starting to make some incredibly expressive and aromative wines.
Philippe Chatillon was estate manager at the much celebrated Arbois winey of Domaine de La Pinte for close to 18 years. It was then, in 2013, that he decided he wanted to create his own, finding and buying a hillside plot of Savagnin in Passenans with which to work. Soon he added plots with of Melon a Queue Rouge, Pinot Noir, Tousseau and Chardonnay and, exchanging his original Savagnin plot for another worked only biodynamically, he is on his way! He works his vineyard by hand, without the use of any chemical fertilizer what so-ever. The soils are aided by biodynamic preparations and in the cellar he uses old oak, spontaneous fermentations and bottles without fining or filtration. Furthermore he works in bio-harmony, using sounds vibrations from harps to aid in the wines balance.
Uva de Vida
Uva de Vida (“The Grape of Life”), est. 2012 , is the vision of wife and husband team Carmen Lopez Delgado and Luiz Ruiz Martin. Based in Santa Olalla, 50km west of Toledo, Carmen makes half a dozen wines from their 9hct property centered on Graciano, an uncommon variety in the region. Following strict natural and biodynamic processes, both in the vines and the winery, Carmen doesn’t filter, clarify or add sulfites at any point saying they “they are toxic and, for wine, they are an atomic bomb”. Through invigorating the life of the soil, the use of sonar energy and no intervention in the wine they are creating structured, elegant, fresh nd pure wines. The winery is a member of the tiny prestigious biodynamic association “La Renaissance des Appellations”, chaired by Nicolas Joly.
In the heart of the Alt Penedes, at an altitude of some 400m, is the small and remote town of Olesa de Bonesvalls. Here, in the Can Tutusaus estate (est. 1348), you'll find the tiny winery of Valldolina and its 11 organic hectares of vineyards. But for the vines the estate is a forest of pine and oak trees, brooms, fennel, rosemary, thyme, lavender and many other Mediterranean plants typical of the protected and diverse ecosystem of the Penedes Garraf. A family winery, the son Raimon is the winemaker and is young, passionate and excitable. In 1998 they chose to farm fully organically fully benefitting from the year-round sunshine, wild biodiversity of the Garraf and a fresh wind from the Ordal mountains.
Vinadores de Gredos
Ruben Diaz is born and bred in Cebreros, Avila, one of the principal villages at the forefront of the Gredos wine reawakening. And he, like his much more celebrated and better known peer Dani Landi, is one of the emblematic winemakers of the area. He believes that Garnacha is a part of his DNA. It was back in 1999 when the rights to their land were about to be sold that Ruben went to check out the vines. He's never been involved but studied, learnt from others and fell in love with Gredos Garnacha. He is interested in keeping wine keeping as it has been done for 100's of years , with minimal intervention to truly express the exact state of the soil, the winemaker, the vineyard and the weather to the glass. He doesn't use a single non-organic solution. "I'm happy with my work, and they say that it always shows in the results".
Vins de Pedra
Vins de Pedra is the personal project of Marta Pedra, who just happens to be the wife of Josep Serra from the winery La Vinyeta. Though winemaking runs in her blood - her great-grandfather was a much revered oenologist from Tarragona - it lay dormant for several generations until it finally awoke in her. So, having always grown up around vines Marta took it upon herself to go and study oenology working in several small wineries in the region before realising her own dream. Her tiny winery lies between maritime and continental climates, with calcareous soils and in and amongst many micro-climates. Her wines are revered, almost as much for her Godfather's label design which changes every year, as for what's inside.
Vins des 3 Chateaux
Vignobles de 3 Chateaux, situated at the very foot of the emblematic Pic-Saint Loup is found in the heart of the Pic St.-Loup Appellation. Located around 150 meters above sea level, on a clay and limestone terroir, it is influenced by both Mediterranean and continental climates. Temperatures are lower, rainfall is more abundant and the wind come off the mountain and drives the clouds away, helping maintain aridity and naturally improving the health of the vineyards. Here diurnal range it at it’s peak allowing the development of supple tannins of a rare finesse. Here, Michel Marty, Managing Director and oenologist, has been the head of the team for decades. for over.
Vittorini di Nico Speranza
Nico Speranza left a corporate job in Milan aged 30 to go and make wine in the countryside, one of many these days, he says. Set amongst the steep hills of Monsampietro Morico in the heart of Le Marche, Domenico Speranza, Nico's grandfather, set up the winery that Nico now runs. His goal is to make, "conscientious wine, the most natural way possible without ulterior motives and without shortcuts". And that's not a bad translation either, he is a proper poet. His cuvées are inspired by a Piedmont poets and Nick Cave alike. His production is a few thousand, and each year his wines change, using plantings of local Le Marche varieties; Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Pecorino, as well as Incrocio Bruni (Verdicchio-Sauvignon) and some Petit Verdot. Using alternative energy sources (geothermal and solar) he tries to reduce the wineries impact on the environment.
The winery was founded in 1989, the same year that the DO of Getaria txakolina was founded. The Errasti family has been growing grapes and making wine from these vineyards for over 40 years working with the local varieties of Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Beltza. The vineyards and winery are near the coast line among rolling hills at about 90 meters above sea level. The sunniest and windiest slopes are planted with vines so the grapes can ripen and remain dry and avoid fungal and rot issues. All work in the vineyards is done by hand. Fermentation takes place naturally in stainless steel tanks before the wine is bottled while young to retain some of its natural effervescence.