Organic, biodynamic, and sustainable wines from some of the most interesting winemakers in the world.
Arianna has inspired a new generation of wine lovers, having experienced a stratospheric rise to prominence as a cult producer. She now has a burgeoning international following too.
Her career started as a teenager in the cellar of her uncle Giusto Occhipinti’s COS winery, the most famous in Vittoria. His approach to production included organic viticulture, hand-harvesting and native-yeast fermentation, which were a novelty at the time amongst Sicily’s bulk-driven wine producers.
Giusto passed his extensive knowledge onto Arianna, who went on to study oenology in Milan and began producing wine from a single hectare of abandoned vines at her family’s holiday home. Equipped with technical knowledge from university but disillusioned by the emphasis on chemistry and laboratory work, Arianna’s preference was to follow her uncle’s natural approach to winemaking.
She felt this was the best way to express the freshness of the Vittorian microclimate, the minerality of the region’s chalky soil and the purity of the best local grape varieties. Arianna now farms 18 hectares of certified organically grown native grapes. She follows biodynamic farming principles and doesn’t use irrigation, despite the hot, windy climate. All new plantings on the estate are Massale selections. The juice and wine are moved only by gravity and no new oak is used in production. Her wines have an earthy, almost raw quality and are more about finesse than power.
Valtellina is one of Italy’s smallest wine regions and has been producing wine for more than 2000 years. Located in the far north of Lombardy, near the Swiss border, this east to west valley provides perfect exposure with its south facing mountain range on the northern banks of the Adda river. The tiny region produces beautiful wines from Nebbiolo with a distinctly alpine feel.
Barbacan, founded and managed by Angelo Sega and his sons Luca and Matteo, farms seven hectares in the village of San Giacomo di Teglio. Here the narrow, terraced vineyards cling to incredibly steep slopes that require what locals call “heroic viticulture.” The Segas follow a traditional path, painstakingly working the vines organically by hand. During harvest, the grapes are carried down a network of trails and stairs using small crates strapped to their backs.
In the cellar, the intervention is minimal. The wines ferment spontaneously, a long gentle extraction is employed, and no sulphur is added until bottling. The Valgella Superiore wines are aged in a combination of large oak casks and concrete tanks for two years.The resulting wines are wonderfully pure and bright with ripe red cherries, minerals, and fine tannins.
In early July, we were finally back in California and one winemaker in particular was at the top of our list to visit. Matt Nagy heads up the tiny yet incredible producer, Benevolent Neglect. He has tremendous experience working under Napa Valley icons Thomas Rivers Brown (Outpost, Schrader, Maybach) and Steve Matthiasson, of the eponymous Matthiasson winery.
Along with his partner, Ben Brenner, Matt founded Benevolent Neglect in 2013 with the goal of crafting minimal intervention wines from small, terroir-expressive vineyards. Matt and Ben seek out great sites from small growers focusing on sustainability – roughly 90% practice organic farming). In the cellar, they look to intervene in the winemaking as little as possible and make wines that are expressive of their site (and lower in alcohol than the California norm).
The wines are deliciously balanced, and show the ripe fruit you’d expect from California, but with excellent structure and texture. Benevolent Neglect is one of our top finds since we launched Vinified and their entire range is brilliant.
Gary Farr’s passion for Pinot Noir originates from time spent in Burgundy. In 1978, Gary began his career as winemaker at Bannockburn Vineyards in the Moorabool Valley, northwest of Geelong in Victoria, Australia. His insatiable desire to make the best wines possible led to his travels in Burgundy. Over time, he worked 10 vintages at the incomparable Domaine Dujac.
Gary founded By Farr after buying land in Geelong and planting grapes in the early 1990s. From the outset, the style of wines has been linked to the techniques he learned in Burgundy, and specifically at Dujac. Large proportions of whole clusters are one of the key parts of this style.
In the last 10 years, the estate has been managed by Gary’s son Nick, who is taking By Farr to new heights, and was recently named the 2020 Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller. Now encompassing 16 hectares, the viticulture is mostly organic (only the mulch is not) with native grasses allowed to grow between the vines and no tilling. The wines come from single vineyards, see native yeast fermentations, and the winery is gravity fed. There is a ripeness and richness to these wines that is unmistakably Australian, but with a lovely balance, elegance, and savouriness. None other than Jeremy Seysses of Domaine Dujac has described them as some of his favourite wines.
Recently, By Farr has launched a new project – Irrewarra. While they are the only non-estate wines produced by Nick Farr, they are farmed by the same team. The Irrewarra site is an hour to the west of Bannockburn, but is a cooler site with significantly more rainfall, resulting in a fresher and brighter style.
Champagne may be the most well-known wine region in the world, yet it has a side that surprisingly few people know about. The most exciting of these hidden wonders is Cédric Bouchard’s tiny estate in the sleepy village of Celles-sur-Ource. Far from Champagne’s famous areas of Montagne de Reims and Cote des Blancs, the estate is producing some of the most sought-after ‘grower Champagnes’ in the world, and Cédric is one of the exciting young winemakers in the region.
Although born into a winemaking family, Cédric decided to head in a different direction and made his way to Paris. But after discovering his own passion for wine while working as a sommelier, he returned to Champagne to begin his own estate.
Beginning with just one hectare of land which was north facing and very hard to farm, Cédric began to make wine in a very different way to every other producer in Champagne. He decided to break every rule in the book: making single vineyard, single variety, single vintage wines with low pressure and zero dosage. By farming organically and harvesting less than half the yield than is typical in the region, his focus is on perfection.
Cédric makes seven wines from six different parcels and his production is tiny. The domaine averages just a few hundred bottles for the top selections. After suffering a stroke in 2014, Cédric has become even more focused on creating world-class wine, and is making some of the purest wines that you are likely to drink, in Champagne, or anywhere in the world for that matter.
In a very short time Château de Bonnezeaux has become one of the most exciting and sought-after producers in the Loire. Despite a winemaking history that dates to the 19th century, the small Anjou estate was dormant for three decades until Guyonne Saclier de la Batie revived it in 2012. Guyonne relaunched the estate with help from the legendary Mark Angeli (Ferme de la Sansonniere) and had mentors in Stéphane Bernaudeau and Richard Leroy.
Biodynamics were introduced from the beginning, revitalising the previously abandoned vineyards. Grasses are allowed to grow between the vines, yields are kept incredibly low, and grapes are hand harvested. In the cellar minimal intervention winemaking with low levels of sulphur is the practice. Grapes are pressed using vertical Champagne style presses and fermented with native yeasts before ageing for two years in neutral or lightly toasted oak barrels.
Despite the vineyards being in the appellation of Bonnezeaux, an AOC that only allows sweet wines to be produced, the style here is to produce exceptional dry Chenin Blanc from excellent vineyard sites. Hence all the wines are labelled as humble Vin de France.
These are wonderfully concentrated, electric, and textured examples of dry Chenin Blanc that have become “unicorn” wines due to their rarity – we just wish we had more.
The Amoreau family began making wine at Bordeaux’s Château Le Puy in 1610, near the hillsides of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion. While it’s not one of the typically prestigious names in Bordeaux, Château Le Puy has a long history and a fascinating legacy in biodynamic wine production, and is becoming recognised as one of the most overlooked estates in the region.
Brothers Pascal, Francoise and Jean-Pierre are the 15th generation of the Amoreau family and now they now run the chateau together. The trio takes their winemaking seriously and have continued the family’s tradition of applying new methods to wine production.
The estate is now spread across three plots, totalling 35 hectares and many vines are more than 50 years old.
In the 1920s, Jean Amoreau modified his traditional winemaking approach by selecting only the finest fruit and destemming the grapes before vinification, which significantly reduced bitterness. In the 1930s, Robert Amoreau introduced the “chapeau immerge” extraction method.
In the 1990s, Château Le Puy introduced sulphite-free vinification, using only carefully selected grapes. There were no added sugars or yeasts and the wine was matured in oak barrels for two years, with the lunar calendar determining the monthly stirring schedule. There was no filtration or fining before bottling, which again is done in alignment with the lunar calendar. The wine is tasted weekly to monitor its development. This approach was implemented across the full harvest from the 1998 vintage and has been Demeter certified as biodynamic since 2013.The brothers are moving towards permaculture based on the writings of the celebrated Japanese farmer-philosopher Masonobu Fukuoka.
Because of its unique approach to vinification, Château Le Puy has been refused the right to its local AOC several times because it is ‘atypical’ for the region. This is a point of pride for Jean-Pierre Amoreau and in fact he’s been battling for his own appellation for a distinctive part of the estate since 2011, but without success thus far.
The wines can mature for decades with vintages from the 1920s and 1930s still drinking incredibly well. Each wine is named after historical Amoreau family members.
“This is surely one of Bordeaux's most overlooked wine estates.” Jane Anson, Decanter
The most iconic estate in the Loire and one of France’s most celebrated estates, Clos Rougeard has a cult following for their incredibly rare, age-worthy wines.
Founded in the 17th century, the Foucault family have painstakingly farmed some of the best vineyard plots in Saumur-Champigny and Saumur. Since the 1960s brothers Charly and Nady Foucault ran the domaine taking it to new heights. The incredible quality of the wines starts in the vineyards which are farmed with exacting standards using traditional methods - organic and biodynamic practices, ploughing to control weeds, massale selection to propagate vines, and pruning to keep yields low.
In the cellar they are just as demanding. The grapes are destemmed and fermented with native yeasts. The wines undergo a long, gentle fermentation with foot treading or pumping over as needed. Then, after 18-24 months in barrel in the incredibly cool tuffeau cellars, they are bottled unfined and unfiltered, and aged in bottle before release.
In 2017, following the passing of Charly in December 2015, the Foucault family decided to sell the estate to the Bouygues family, owners of Chateau Montrose which they've taken to new heights.
The wines of Clos Rougeard are brilliant, beautifully elegant, and beguiling wines that somehow manage to be concentrated yet delicate.
The story of Comando G is one of friendship, history, and the pursuit of the perfectly expressed wine.
It starts with university friends Daniel Landi and Fernando Garcia, who were both working in the Sierra de Gredos mountains, not far from Madrid. Daniel was at his family’s estate, Bodegas Jiménez-Landi, and Fernando at Bodega Maranoñes. The men were drawn to the winemaking potential in the high-altitude region, but were even more enchanted by the rumours of small, virtually inaccessible plots of old vines with huge potential located high in the area.
In 2008 they created Comando G as a side business. Their weekends and spare time were spent looking for suitable sites to lease or purchase. The pair had specific criteria for vineyards they wanted to acquire. The plots needed free draining granite soil, must be planted with Garnacha (Grenache), at altitude, and, importantly, facing north or east. The fruit on vines with this aspect receives less direct heat, which is increasingly important in this era of climate change.
Landi and Garcia tapped into local expertise to unearth vineyards that met this strict criterion. These were the plots that old timers often whispered about in dark corners of taverns or out in the fields. The pair befriended locals who had worked in the vineyards to sort rumour from fact, locating plots that were suitable for their long-term plans.
This style of prospecting required a great deal of research in the local bars and taverns, according to Landi. “I found when you drink beer, you find good vineyards,” he said.
Comando G grew into a full-blown enterprise in 2013. Landi and Garcia now own several high-altitude vineyards, mostly focussed on producing Garnacha. Their preference is for their land to be at least 2,500 feet above sea level but prefer 3,000 or even 4,000 feet. This altitude enables a longer ripening cycle and produces wine with less alcohol and more balance.
Garnacha, Landi says, is the Pinot Noir of the south. Until recently, it had been viewed as a workhorse variety, but Comando G has turned it into something that can rival the elegance and finesse of Pinot Noir in Burgundy or Syrah in the northern Rhône.
Comando G produces fresh, elegant wines and that’s a result of its commitment to locating the most suitable vineyards and ongoing respect for traditional practices. The result is that each vineyard is a genuine expression of place, reflecting the nuance of each ancient piece of land.
Comando G follows biodynamic principles, with the techniques tailored for each vineyard. Grapes are harvested by hand and late in the season, typically in October. Fermentation occurs using whole clusters in open-top casks and with indigenous yeasts. Single vineyard wines are fermented in large oak vats and the blends in a mixture of oak and concrete.
Cullen is one of the best-known estates in Western Australia’s Margaret River region, south of Perth. Named after the family who originally founded the estate in 1971, Cullen produces wines of impeccable quality and has long pioneered environmentally sensitive practices.
Vanya Cullen, daughter of the original winemakers, has headed up the estate for 30 years. She was named James Halliday’s winemaker of the year in 2020. Vanya continued her parents’ legacy of looking after the land and takes a holistic approach to the business.
Cullen started organic practices in 1998, was certified as biodynamic in 2003 and became carbon neutral in 2006. Today, it is proudly carbon negative. It practices carbon offsetting by planting native trees and shrubs in Australia’s largest carbon sink reforestation project, the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor. Soil studies in 2020 found the carbon levels in the estate’s soil had increased 2%, meaning the estate now sequesters more carbon than the entire business emits.
In part, Vanya sees her role to care for the land she farms. The wines are almost a bonus. She’s a staunch believer that healthy soils and vines produce better quality fruit. That, in turn, enables Cullen to make unique wines that are genuinely pure expressions of place.
This gentle touch approach to winemaking gives real, visceral life to the Cullen oeuvre. This is evident in its entire range, but no more so than in its flagship Diana Madeline which is arguably Australia’s leading Cabernet blend and named after Vanya’s mother.
David Duband is widely regarded as one of Burgandy’s rising stars. He took over his family’s small vineyard at 19 and has gone on to produce more than 20 successful vintages.
Duband and his business partner Francois Feuillet have purchased some exceptional ancient Grand Cru vineyards in and around Gevrey-Chambertin and Morey-Saint-Denis. The pair has created an exceptional portfolio of wines spread across 17 hectares and production is split between the Duband and Feuillet labels.
Duband has adapted his work in the vineyards and cellars to produce highly finessed wines that are also incredibly intense and fresh. He works the vineyards organically and uses low levels of sulphur in the cellar. Duband uses a relatively high proportion of whole bunches during fermentation and prefers to limit the use of new oak for ageing, adapting the approach for each vintage as needed. The wines he produces are pure and elegant, reflecting the authentic expression of each vintage.
Due to his diverse landholdings and diligent local growers, Duband produces wines from a wide variety of appellations. Each is truly representative of their terroir while also displaying the elegance his reputation has been built upon. His beautifully refined Pinot Noirs have complex perfumes as the result of a shift to whole bunch fermentation in 2008.
Many of the region’s top growers hold Duband in high esteem and his reputation only flourishes with every vintage produced.
In 2008, Guillaume d’Angerville, of the famous Domaine Marquis d’Angerville in Volnay, was eating at his favourite restaurant in Paris. As usual, he requested the sommelier pick a wine for him on the condition that it was anything but Burgundy. But he was in for a surprise.
When the sommelier poured the wine, Guillaume thought there must be some mistake. As soon as he tasted it, he was certain it came from the Cote de Beaune. No, the sommelier told him, it’s a Chardonnay from Jura. Astounded by the news, Guillaume set out to explore the region and its terroir, and soon began looking for a perfect site to launch a new estate.
After a long search for vineyards with the right geology, Domaine du Pélican was founded in 2012 with the purchase of five hectares from the biodynamically-run Chateau de Chavannes in Montigny-lès-Arsures. An additional 10 hectares were added, five of which were purchased from Jura legend Jacques Puffeney upon his retirement in 2014. These are geologically complex sites with multiple different soil types, from grey marl to limestone.
Run by Francois Duvivier, the long-time estate manager at Marquis d’Angerville, Domaine du Pélican is certified biodynamic. Much like their estate in Volnay, the work in the vineyards and cellar is meticulous. For the red wines, the grapes are destemmed and macerated on the skins for two weeks with once daily pumpovers, resulting in very gentle extraction. For the whites, the grapes are slowly pressed and fermented in a mix of neutral oak casks and barrels.
The wines of Domaine du Pélican are polished and beautifully expressive. They are some of the best being produced in Jura today.
Profound local knowledge and foresight set the scene for the story of Domaine Guiberteau. In 1954, Robert Guiberteau recognised the potential of the terroir in Saumur and purchased several hectares on the hill of Brézé.
Notably, he purchased the Clos des Carmes, considered to be one of the grand crus of the Loire Valley. Robert worked the vines until his retirement in the mid-1970s when the domaine was farmed out. At the end of a lease cycle in the mid-1990s, Romain Guiberteau – grandson of Robert – decided to take on the management of his family’s vineyards instead of returning to law school. The leases weren’t renewed, and Romain searched out advice from other locals to help on his journey.
Under the mentoring of Clos Rougeard’s Nady Foucault, Romain produced 5,000 bottles of red wine that sold easily. This success convinced him to follow qualitative winemaking and he gradually returned vines to the estate as leases expired with the cooperative. Romain also sought advice from Thierry Germain of Domaine des Roches Neuves and has a strong friendship with Benjamin Dagueneau. It’s clear to see these producers have influenced the Guiberteau domaine although Romain has absolutely made the wines his own.
In 2000 he converted to organic practices and achieved AB organic certification in 2007. The inspiration from his great mentors and the exceptional quality of Guiberteau’s land is reflected in the intense and penetrating wines he produces. Romain Guiberteau is seen as genuinely challenging the status quo of the Loire Valley’s traditions.
In a relatively short time, Guiberteau has become one of the most sought after domaines in Saumur, a reputation created from hard work, inspiration but also his grandfather’s vision for the land he purchased many decades ago.
“Romain Guiberteau owns some of the best land in Brézé, and makes dry chenins of punk rock violence, yet of Bach-like logic and profoundness. He is creating quite a stir,” Becky Wasserman
Tempier is a truly legendary domaine in Bandol, Provence. The family estate was already a century old when its patriarch gifted it to daughter Lucie “Lulu” Tempier on her marriage to Lucien Peyraud in 1936. The couple created a magnificent connection between wine, food and life on the estate, with Lucien focussing on the vines and Lulu serving luscious, homemade Provencal cuisine to guests and their own family of seven children.
Lucien immersed himself in learning about the terroir and specifically, its Mourvèdre vines. He discovered older Mourvèdre vineyards were being replanted with higher-yielding varieties, despite its long historical connection with the area. Lucien also realised Mourvèdre was more resistant to oxidation than other varieties, meaning it produced wines with great potential for ageing.
In the early 1940s, Lucien aligned with neighbouring vignerons to work with the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origines) to establish Bandol as its own A.O.C. This encouraged large-scale replanting of Mourvèdre in the region.
Lucien retired in the early 1970s, and his sons François and Jean-Marie took on winemaking responsibilities. The brothers continued their parents’ traditions of embracing innovation and respecting the environment. François and Jean-Marie focused much of their attention on developing the estate’s three unique, single-vineyard wines: La Migoua, La Tourtine and Cabassaou.
The brothers retired almost 20 years ago and the domaine is now run by the talented Daniel Ravier. He has a strong respect for the estate’s traditions, continuing to produce the same style of wines. Continuing the focus on viticulture, Daniel has moved the property to be completely biodynamic.
Domaine Tempier is in the sunniest part of France, which creates good conditions for maturing grapes. Being close to the sea means it doesn’t get too hot, even in the height of summer. The estate has variations of limestone and clay soils between the vineyards and it produces undeniably world-class wines.
Tempier’s garrigue-scented rosé has developed such a cult following that it sells out long before the next vintage is available, yet it’s one of the world’s few rosés seriously worth ageing. This rosé, along with the estate’s Bandol Blanc and cuvées of Bandol rouge, makes the wines of Domaine Tempier stand out as the benchmark for Provençal wines. It produces deep and structured wines of such refinement and longevity that it is truly a grand cru de Provence.
Lucien passed away in 1996 but will always be recognised as the Godfather of Bandol and the man who revived Mourvèdre to its former glory.
Egly-Ouriet is rated as one of Champagne’s top producers, sitting comfortably alongside world-famous Krug, Bollinger, and others. Under the careful stewardship of Francis Egly, a fourth-generation family winemaker, it has become a highly sought-after cult Champagne, and for good reason. Francis has been at the very forefront of the ‘grower Champagne’ movement, leading the charge long before it was popular.
The family farms old-vine vineyards in the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay – home to some of the greatest Pinot Noir in France. When Francis took over from his father Michel in 1980, his focus was to make Pinot Noir dominant Champagnes with impeccable quality.
He began with the soil. Only a handful of growers in Champagne follow biodynamic, organic or 'living soil' principals; forgoing chemical fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides or other chemicals, and Francis was one of the first. The estate was also one of the very few growers who always refused to use gadoux (ground city rubbish) as fertiliser on their vineyards.
Francis also works to very low yields, produces vineyard specific wines, and minimises the use of sugar. In the cellar, Francis uses the gentlest possible extraction, of which he only keeps the purest first pressing. It is no secret that he takes his inspiration from Burgundy, bottling at lower atmospheres so the bubbles do not obscure the outstanding quality of his base wine. All of these elements combine to make Egly-Ouriet one of the best Champagne producers in the world.
Emidio Pepe is a pioneer of Italian biodynamic winemaking and his estate produces some of the country’s most age-worthy, legendary wines. The estate is a benchmark producer of Montepulciano and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and is in an almost perfect location for growing these grapes. The now 15-hectare estate is in the hills between the Adriatic Sea and Apennine Mountains, meaning the vines receive warm summer sun but also cooling sea breezes.
The Pepe estate has been in the family since the late 1800s and for much of that time its grapes were sold to the local co-operative. In 1964, Emidio Pepe decided his grapes were too good to sell and started making his own wines.
Realising that investing in machinery would mean an endless cycle of upgrades, maintenance and renewals, Pepe decided to follow an artisanal and traditional path to producing wine. It’s quite rare to find such a raw expression in that era of industrialised winemaking, but the approach is paying dividends.
All grapes are grown biodynamically, harvested and destemmed by hand and fermented with indigenous yeast. The Trebbiano is trodden by foot in wooden tubs and the Montepulciano is crushed by hand. The wine is aged for up to two years in glass-lined cement tanks. Pepe deliberately avoids oak as he sees it as an nontraditional way of maturing wine which creates unnecessary tones in the wine. He also follows reductive practices to limit the wine’s oxygen exposure, contributing to each vintage’s long cellaring ability.
The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered and is cellar-aged for continued development. At least half of the wine produced remains in the cellar – today containing around 350,000 bottles – and is released only when the family feels the vintage is at its best expression.
Older reds, more than 10 years old, are decanted by hand into new bottles before being released.
Emidio Pepe’s daughters and grand-daughters now help run the estate, continuing his traditional farming and winemaking approaches.
We offer the below wines in unmixed cases and in bond. Purchases in bond are sold excluding duty and VAT and must be shipped to an account at a bonded warehouse. These wines can also be delivered direct to you, in which duty and VAT will apply - simply select the 'duty paid' option from the drop down.
Elisabetta took over her family estate when she was just 20 years old, after the sudden passing of her father. In the region of Trentino, where roughly 80% of wine is produced by cooperatives, Foradori was producing fairly nondescript table wine. But Elisabetta soon decided to do things differently.
She changed the viticulture by using massale selection for new plantings. This meant selecting cuttings from their best vines to propagate new vines, instead of using nursery clones. In 2002, she began converting the estate to biodynamics, becoming certified in 2009. She has now passed the baton to her children, with her son Emilio in charge of the winemaking and viticulture, Theo on the business side, and daughter Myrtha establishing their polyculture farm.
The grape varieties are indigenous to the area. Manzoni Bianco, a cross of Riesling and Pinot Bianco, is full of bright green fruits, herbs, and minerals. Nosiola, a unique and incredibly difficult grape to grow, is subtle and textured, with citrus and a touch of hazelnut. The Pinot Grigio is the only wine made from grapes not grown on the estate – it spends eight months on the skins in amphorae and is one of our favourite ‘orange’ wines, with its lovely fruitiness and juicy intensity.
Teroldego, representing about 75% of the production, is the grape Foradori has become famous for. The flagship wine, Granato, is arguably the most sought-after red wine from the region and shows the heights that Teroldego can reach. Coming from 65 to 80-year-old vines, it is fermented with 40% whole clusters, macerated by submerged cap, and aged in large neutral oak foudre. It is a ripe and powerful wine, with wonderfully deep fruit and incredible length – truly one of Northern Italy’s great wines.
The entry-level Teroldego is delicious, with concentrated juicy black fruits. The Morei and Sgarzon are single-vineyard Teroldego wines aged on their skins in amphorae for nine months. The Morei, from a warm and rocky site, is structured with blue fruits and minerals. From a cooler sandy site, Sgarzon is more supple and elegant.
Every one of the Foradori wines are a masterclass in quality, elegance, and attention to detail.
“These are wines that communicate such purity and prestige from top to bottom. It’s easy to forget the amazing value to be found in their Teroldego, as well as the fact that the Morei, Fontanasanta and Sgarzon are all refined in amphorae, a practice that’s still not widely accepted, and that the power of today’s Granato comes from the grape and the terroir over winemaking.” – Eric Guido, Vinous, November 2020
GD Vajra is a truly unique family estate with a history as interesting as the wines they produce. Located in Vergne, the highest village in Barolo, it sits among the vineyards at an altitude of 400 metres. Currently, the family tends all forty hectares including the outstanding Bricco delle Viole, one of the highest crus in Barolo.
Run by second generation winemakers Giuseppe, Isidoro and Francesca Vaira, the estate is overseen by their parents, Aldo and Milena. The winery’s history stretches back further still and is named after Giuseppe Domenico, Aldo's father. Aldo founded the estate in 1972, using vineyards that had been in the family since the 1920s.
Meeting with Milena and Isidoro and discussing the family’s rich heritage on our recent visit, we came to understand how special this winery is. The estate was one of the first in the region to embrace organic practices and the winery continues to be on the forefront of sustainable winemaking in Barolo. In their own words, ‘the land is generous and alive. It is beautiful. It needs understanding and time.’
Interesting note: Vajra vs. Vaira: The family name was Vajra until 1918 but with the letter J being eliminated from Italian language except for foreign words, it was changed to Vaira. When the winery was founded, the name should have been Vaira but due to a mistake, it became Vajra. The family decided to keep the winery name with a J for its wines given the family history with that spelling, but for members of the family, it is spelled Vaira.
Domaine Guilhem et Jean-Hugues Goisot is one of the best kept secrets in Burgundy, despite a wine-making history stretching back to the 14th century. Father and son team Jean-Hughes and Guilhem Goisot are making some of the best wine in the region, all from biodynamic vineyards located in and around the village of Saint-Bris, only a few kilometres west of Chablis. If you are looking for world-class wines with incredible value, look no further than Domaine Goisot.
Jean-Hughes was one of the first to farm organically in the region in 1993. The domaine has become a pioneer in biodynamic practices, understanding that truly great wine is made in the vineyard. Incredibly low yields, hand harvested grapes, indigenous yeast fermentations, and minimal intervention in the cellar result in impressively complex and terroir driven wines.
These exceptional wines have not gone unnoticed. France’s leading wine guide, La Revue du vin de France, rated Domaine Goisot one of the top producers in the Yonne/Chablis area. Wine critic, Neal Martin of Vinous, is also a huge fan, calling Goisot one of the most interesting and exciting growers in Burgundy. He adds that he ‘cannot recommend highly enough. Moreover, prices remain so reasonable that I feel almost guilty when I purchase them myself.’
Dominique Lafon is considered one of the finest winemakers in France. Since 1985, he has been managing his family winery in Meursault, the world-renowned Domaine des Comtes Lafon. But in 1999, Dominique saw potential in a region that no other Cote d’Or winemaker had paid any attention to. He purchased 14 hectares of vines in the Maconnais and today Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon is one of the most well-respected producers in the region.
Dominique saw an opportunity to do what no one else was: focus on quality in an area of Burgundy that was largely industrially farmed. After purchasing several excellent hillside parcels, Dominique began to farm by the same methods he did in Meursault. Each one of the vineyards was converted to organic and biodynamic farming, focusing on intense soil rejuvenation. The grapes are hand harvested and the wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts.
In 2006, Dominique appointed long time apprentice Caroline Gon as head winemaker and together they manage every aspect of the viticulture. The domaine now spans 26 hectares and includes additional parcels in Saint-Véran and Pouilly-Fuissé. Their continued focus on quality and sustainability has led to Héritiers du Comte Lafon producing some of the most outstanding wines in the region.
Ian Brand, the San Francisco Chronicle’s ‘Winemaker of the Year’ in 2018, produces brilliant and distinctive wines that offer terrific value for California – a state famous for wines that are either incredibly expensive or mass produced.
Founded in 2008 by Ian and his wife Heather, I Brand and Family Wines focuses on vineyards in the underappreciated regions surrounding Monterey Bay – a stretch of the California Central Coast hugely influenced by the Pacific Ocean. Ian quickly established a reputation for seeking out excellent organic and sustainably farmed vineyard sites with the right mix of soil, aspect, variety, and microclimate.
In the winery, Ian looks to be hands off, harvesting quality fruit so that little needs to be done during fermentation. Native yeast, gentle maceration, and minimal oak are all part of the winemaking process.
Initially producing wine under their Le P’tit Paysan label with characterful and expressive ‘village’ wines, they went on to launch the I. Brand label, with elegant and refined single vineyard wines from exceptional sites.
The region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, in the far north east of Italy, near the borders of Slovenia and Austria, is renowned for producing some of the best white wines in Italy. I Clivi, founded by Ferdinanado Zanusso in the mid-1990s, produces exceptionally pure wines in the two most esteemed appellations. Now run predominantly by Ferdinando’s son Mario, I Clivi is producing some of the most age-worthy and delicious wines in the region.
Ferdinando and Mario farm 12 hectares of old vines (averaging between 60 and 90 years old) from indigenous grape varieties on the steep slopes of Colli Orientali and Collio. The soils are a mix of clay and sandstone with marine deposits, resulting in wines of intense minerality. I Clivi is certified organic and very hands off in the vineyards (see photo above!), yet incredibly detailed in their work with pruning based on the vegetative needs of each vine. Yields are incredibly low – averaging only 20 hl/ha – and grapes are hand-harvested.
In the cellar the work is just as fastidious. The grapes are gently pressed, with only free-run juice used. The wines are fermented with ambient yeasts and vinified in stainless steel in order to reflect the true character of each variety. They are aged on their lees for up to 18 months before bottling with low amounts of sulphur. If you’re looking for some outstanding whites from a region you may not have tried before, I can’t recommend these highly enough.
The I Vigneri project is a company of growers with vineyards in Etna and eastern Sicily. Its name comes from the Maestranza dei Vigneri, an association of vineyard workers which dates to 1435 and subsequently became the bedrock of the region’s professional wine industry.
Fast forward 500 years and I Vigneri today includes proprietors and wine experts like Salvo Foti and other local growers. Foti is an incredibly well-respected advisor and has worked with some of Sicily’s best estates, such as Gulfi, Benanti, and Vini Biondi. Salvo wanted his own project to make a wine that really sings, and thus I Vigneri was formed.
I Vigneri practices non-invasive methods, respects local growing and winemaking traditions and uses the area’s own ancient grape varieties where possible. A constant in its vineyards is biodiversity, which is also found in the wildflowers growing at the edges of its fields. Many of the vines are more than 100 years old.
The vines for its red, Vinupetra, are grown at around 700 metres altitude on the north side of the volcano. Here, the climate is more like the north of Italy with harsh, cold winters and hot, dry summers. Foti follows the albarello, or gobelet, planting system of 10,000 plants per hectare, which produces great fruit in the conditions. This means work can only be done by hand or mule in the vineyards.
Other varieties are grown at extreme altitude. A newly planted vineyard of whites is about 1200 metres above sea level and there is a vineyard of Alicante (Grenache) vines that are almost 100 years old at 1300 metres.
I Vigneri does not use fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides, only a copper/sulphur mix. Grapes are harvested by hand and fermentation occurs with native yeasts in open oak vats, without temperature control. Racking and bottling are conducted according to the lunar cycle and the wines are bottled with little or no filtration.
Jacky Blot is a maverick and not afraid to take risks. This former professional jumper has reinvented Chenin Blanc in the heart of its ancestral home: Vouvray and Montlouis-sur-Loire.
Blot was convinced Chenin Blanc was failing to meet its potential and brought a much-needed fresh perspective and knowledge to winemaking from his successful career as a wine broker. Jacky and his son Jean-Philipe have pursued making modern, crisp, terroir-driven Chenin Blanc and their approach has yielded outstanding results.
The Blots’ reputation as winemakers was built on the sensational still & sparkling Montlouis produced at Domaine de la Taille aux Loups. They take more inspiration from Burgundy than from other local producers in nearby Vouvray. This is evidenced in their single vineyard, terroir-driven approach and organic viticulture practices.
Jacky purchased 8 hectares of vines, aged between 50 and 75 years old, in the late 1980s and began the transformation to organic certification later that decade. Jacky and Jean-Philipe’s commitment to natural farming practices and non-interventionist vinification means every vintage really does sing. The Blots use very low sulphur and minimal filtration.
The Blots expanded into reds, purchasing the 14-hectare Domaine de la Butte in the early 2000s. The same organic farming practices are used here as in Montlouis, as well as hand-harvesting, wild-yeast fermentations and minimal intervention to produce a range of dramatic wines.
During production, the red grapes are totally destemmed, and both red and white grapes are thoroughly hand sorted to ensure only the best fruit is used. Ageing is conducted in barrels sourced from just three coopers in Burgundy. Domaine de la Butte stands atop a cavernous network of caves which were originally carved out of the chalk bedrock by troglodytes. These caves now cellar hundreds of oak barrels.
The Blots also produce two Chenin Blanc from Vouvray, but not labelled as such. The grapes for these are grown in Vouvray but produced in Montlouis. A law change from Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO) meant the Vouvray appellation could only be used if the wines were vinified within the borders of that region. Instead, the Blots decided to continue vinifying them in Montlouis and relabel them as Vin de France.
Few vignerons can boast the lineage and history of the Chave family, who have been growing grapes in the Northern Rhone since 1481. The family name has become synonymous with the most famous appellation in the region - Hermitage. Jean-Louis is the 16th generation to be running Domaine Jean-Louis Chave.
The wines of Domaine Jean-Louis Chave are some of the most sought after in the region and the Hermitage is one of the world’s finest wines. The Chave Selection wines offer some of the best values on our website – few wines offer as much pleasure and complexity for the price.
Chave works fastidiously in the vineyards, painstakingly reconstructing terraces on the incredibly steep slopes of the Northern Rhone. The difficult terrain requires farming without machinery and all the work is organic. The Selection wines use a combination of estate grown fruit and grapes purchased from other growers, most of whom have agreements that put Chave in control of the farming. Wines are vinified using indigenous yeasts and aged in a mix of tonneaux and barrique, depending on the wine.
Fabien Duperray was best known as one of Burgundy’s leading fine wine agents until he decided to become a winemaker. Now his name is synonymous with the production of world-class Beaujolais.
In 2007 Duperray purchased ancient Gamay vineyards in Fleurie and Moulin-à-Vent, where some vines were more than 140 years old. In 2014, he partnered with Fuissé's Christophe Thibert to buy some parcels of Chardonnay in a range of Mâconnais appellations.
Jules Desjourneys is certified organic but Duperray farms biodynamically. He has a hand in the entire process, from viticulture to winemaking, and his focus is to craft the most balanced, age-worthy wines possible. This very approach has resulted in his wines generating a cult following and receiving much critical acclaim in a relatively short time.
Duperray’s attention to detail extends to doing everything by hand. He doesn’t own a tractor, so even the soil is tilled by hand. His yields are kept extremely low. He is often the last in the appellation to pick - sometimes by more than a week - harvesting only when the grapes have achieved maximum ripeness.
After harvesting, the fruit is hand sorted and whole clusters are pressed and then fermented in concrete tanks. The wine is transferred to bespoke 400 litre barrels and aged for up to three years before bottling.
The domaine produces Mâconnais whites and Beaujolais reds. Duperray’s winemaking approach clearly draws on lessons learned from the producers he represented as an agent, including Jean-François Coche, Arnaud Ente and Pierre Morey.
Despite Duperray’s confidence in his farming and winemaking methods, he chose to not use his name on the wine he produces. Calling his domaine Jules Desjourneys is a nod to both tradition and his unorthodox outlook. He selected Jules in honour of the great Beaujolais vigneron Jules Chauvet, and Desjourneys “because I liked how it sounded next to Jules”.
"The irrepressible Fabien Duperray displays just as virtuosic talents in the vinification and élevage of his Mâconnais whites as he does with his Beaujolais reds, drawing on lessons learned in the company of the likes of Jean-François Coche, Arnaud Ente and Pierre Morey." - William Kelley, Wine Advocate
One of Germany’s most iconic producers, Koehler-Ruprecht, has been producing intense dry Rieslings long before it became fashionable. Founded in the 1700s in the village of Kallstadt in the Pfalz, the village includes the iconic Saumagen vineyard, considered by many to be one of the finest vineyards in Germany. This grand cru site is a mix of marl and limestone and wines produced here are intense, mineral, and complex.
Koehler-Ruprecht upholds many age-old traditions, such as adhering to the traditional way of labelling their wines. They continue to use the designations of Kabinett, Spatlese, and Auslese ¬– differentiating the ripeness of the grapes when picked – followed by the word trocken, which means dry. When this type of labelling was banned by the organisational body, the VDP, Koehler-Ruprecht felt so passionately about it, they left the organisation after nearly eighty years of membership.
Dominik Sona now manages the estate, with the help of cellar master Franziska Schmitt, and they are in the process of converting entirely to biodynamics. In the cellar, the winemaking is traditional and low intervention. Hand-picked grapes are spontaneously fermented, and the wines are aged in large old barrels on their lees for at least eight months. There are no additions or chaptalisation and only light filtering. The resulting wines are incredibly age-worthy and beautiful dry expressions of the Riesling grape.
After completing a degree in French Literature, Ted Lemon travelled to France and studied oenology at the University of Dijon. In 1980, he secured an apprenticeship at the world-famous Domaine Dujac. Later, Ted became the first American to be hired as winemaker and vineyard manager of an estate in Burgundy, managing Domaine Guy Roulot until 1984 when he returned to California.
In 1992, Ted, along with his wife Heidi, founded Littorai by purchasing grapes and making 150 cases each of a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir. They searched the west coast of the U.S. for the best sites and decided the greatest potential lay in the coastal areas of Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
Today, Ted and Heidi farm roughly 42 acres, with about 40% of that estate grown fruit. Disillusioned by conventional farming practices, they decided to convert their vineyards to biodynamics and employ elements of permaculture. Now all vineyards (including those where grapes are purchased) are farmed either biodynamically or organically.
Their winemaking is low intervention – native yeasts, minimal additions, judicious use of oak, no fining or filtering – resulting in balanced and elegant wines that reflect their vineyard sites. The Chardonnay are gently whole cluster pressed and fermented and aged in barrel (20% new oak) for 12 months. The Pinot Noir are fermented with a portion of whole clusters depending on site (generally never exceeding 50%) and are aged for 14-17 months in oak (20-25% new). Aside from their regional bottlings (i.e., Les Larmes Anderson Valley), these are single vineyard wines that are beautifully expressive.
“Littorai wines are among the purest, most long-lasting expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the New World.” Jon Bonné, author and wine writer
Australian winemaker Luke Lambert has been described as “a genius” and “one of the most gifted winemakers in the country.” Based in the relatively cool climate Yarra Valley, Luke takes a minimalist and intuitive approach in the vineyard and the cellar, crafting elegant and soulful wines. His Chardonnay and Syrah are excellent, managing to effortlessly convey their terroir. But it’s Nebbiolo Luke is most passionate about and his focus on the variety has led to widespread acclaim.
After tasting wines from the top producers in Barolo (Mascarello, Conterno, and Rinaldi), and time spent working in Piedmont, Luke fell in love with Nebbiolo. Many producers have attempted to make Nebbiolo outside of Northern Italy, often without success. Luke, however, produces stunning wines from the grape variety and the 2017 is the best example I’ve tasted outside of Italy.
The wines come from single vineyards where Luke farms organically (uncertified) and hand harvests. The winemaking philosophy is low intervention – wild yeast fermentations without temperature control, hand plunging the cap, long and gentle macerations, and no new oak. These are incredibly pure wines and among our absolute favourites here at Vinified.
One of Tuscany’s most revered estates, Montevertine, was founded by Sergio Manetti in 1967. The hilltop estate, based in Radda, produces exceptional wines from native grape varieties – predominantly Sangiovese, but also including small percentages of Canaiolo and Colorino.
Despite being in the heart of Chianti Classico, Montevertine does not produce a wine labelled as Chianti. In 1981, Montevertine left the Chianti Classico consortium after being required to blend Trebbiano (a white grape variety) into all wines being produced. Eventually the Chianti Classico consortium changed this rule, but Montevertine has continued to follow their own path, producing wines under the broader Toscana IGT appellation.
Encompassing 18 hectares, the estate lies at 425 meters – one of the highest elevations in the region. This altitude, coupled with limestone clay soils, helps to retain structure and freshness in the wines despite the warm climate. Viticulture is organic and the winemaking is traditional. The wines are spontaneously fermented in large concrete vats and see gentle extraction before ageing in old Slavonian oak barrels. The wines are unfined, unfiltered, and moved by gravity.
Montevertine produces three wines – the Pian del Ciampolo is an excellent introduction to the style of winemaking and is classically elegant with bright fruit. The flagship wine is the Montevertine Rosso, an exceptionally pure and ageworthy Sangiovese. And the top cuvee, Le Pergole Torte, is an absolutely stunning wine. In the words of Vinous’ Antonio Galloni: “Le Pergole Torte isn’t a great Tuscan or Italian wine. It is simply one of the world’s elite wines.”
Stéphane Moreau took over his family domaine in the 1990s and over the last 20 years has elevated it to become one of the top producers in Chablis. A dedicated artisan, Stéphane applied pre-industrial farming techniques to make truly distinctive wines, many of which came from vines that are more than 50 years old.
He used balanced and ripe grapes to avoid the overtly green flavours that mark many classic Chablis. To that end, he was often one of the latest pickers, but only selected the healthiest grapes.
Stéphane worked his land organically and as a vigneron, his star burned brightly but was extinguished all too soon. He passed away before the 2016 vintage and his wife Virginie Moreau now continues his legacy. She is honouring and evolving his winemaking practices, remaining true to the essence of the domaine.
Virginie’s methods are very similar to some of the best growers in Burgundy. She ploughs the vineyards, practices organic viticulture, harvests by hand, presses the whole berries, uses natural yeasts, and only low amounts of sulphur. She has demonstrated masterful cellar work, using barrel-elevage in an intelligent way to avoid any flavours of oakiness emerging in the wine.
Virginie uses steamed barrels rather than charred, reserving new oak for the straight Chablis, and even then, in a very limited way. As a result, her wines are full of racy character, texture and complexity.
“Textural but tangy, the wines do much to prove that ripe grapes and a faithful and differentiated expression of Chablis's diverse terroirs is possible. Despite challenging circumstances, this is a domaine that continues to thrive and produces very fine wines.” William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
Périne, Pierre’s daughter, runs this small domaine where everything is done by hand or horse (which are shared with her husband and well-known vigneron Alexandre Chartogne of Chartogne-Taillet). She produces miniscule quantities (circa 10,000-15,000 bottles per year) of delicious, elegant, and bright terroir-focused Champagne.
Just to the south of Reims, this small domaine cultivates vineyards in three premier cru and grand cru villages in the Montagne de Reims – Trois Puits, Rilly-la-Montagne, and Verzenay. The three main Champagne grape varieties – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Meunier – are all grown. No herbicides or pesticides are sprayed in the vineyards and draft horses are used to plough in order to reduce soil compaction.
In the cellar the wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts, spend time in large oak barrels before bottling, and age on their lees for 3-6 years. The wines see little dosage and a solera is used to age the reserve wines.
Pierre Baillette has received little press outside of France, but the Bulles Roses was recently featured on the cover of Noble Rot, so the secret is finally out. We suggest you snap up a bottle while you can!
Discover the people behind the wine. Let us introduce you to some of the most inspiring winemakers in the world.
Accolades often flow freely for winemakers whose efforts exceed expectations, but Raúl Pérez is genuinely deserving of every superlative written about his wines. He is recognised as one of Spain’s most talented, innovative and restless winemakers. Pérez reinvents his portfolio relentlessly, and is universally considered to be one of the world’s most visionary winemakers.
In 1994 and aged just 22, Pérez produced his first vintage at his family’s winery. Ever since, he has been at the forefront of the conversation about The New Spain. In 2005, he left the family business to strike out on his own, creating Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Pérez, which quickly became the point of reference for the Bierzo appellation.
His activities have since expanded to include the appellations of Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra and Tierra de León, but his heart and home remain in Valtuille de Abajo, the village in Bierzo where his family has tended vines for more than 300 years.
Pérez’s approach is to let nature flow in his vineyards. He’s low-tech, manual, and a staunch believer in the traditions of co-fermentation and hands-off winemaking. “I’ve always watched the birds carefully. They know which grapes are tastier,” he says.
His respect for nature’s signs and signals is a constant theme that continues with every new endeavour he undertakes.
Since leaving the family estate, Pérez has been on a seemingly never-ending quest to restore old vineyards. It’s his intuitive understanding of the vines and ability to produce elegant and fresh wines from rustic grape varieties that sets him apart from his peers.
Pérez pays careful attention to picking dates, with harvests typically occurring over a month or longer. Fermentation is conducted with whole bunches to retain the freshness and character of the grapes. The process encourages extended skin contact – of up to three months in some instances – with no punch-downs or pump-overs at all.
His reds rest in neutral barrels. There’s no sulphur added during elevage and no racking, battonage, or temperature control during the winemaking process. Instead, Pérez’s wines are simply left undisturbed before being blended and bottled. This happens when the barrels are at their peak, and without fining or filtration.
He has revolutionised winemaking in this corner of north-western Spain, was named Winemaker of the Year in 2014 by German food and drink magazine Der Feinschmecker and Best Winemaker in the World in 2015 by the French wine publication Bettane+Desseauve.
Pérez does not produce “winemaker” wines. Rather, he produces wines that are unadulterated expressions of the villages and vineyards from which they hail. Pérez’s genius is far exceeded by his humility and generosity of spirit. That humility is evident when enjoying his wines.
“Raúl Pérez is the archetype of the intuitive winemaking genius,” Master of Wine, Petro Ballesteros.
This story begins in the mid-1800s when Vincenzo Roagna was one of a small group pioneering winemakers who started producing Barbaresco in the form as we know today, in the town of the same name. The estate has passed through the family and is now run by Luca Roagna, the family’s fifth generation winemaker, and his father Alfredo.
The estate’s traditional and classic style has also been carefully passed between the generations. Roagna is one of Piedmont’s traditional producers and has a reputation for premium quality wines, whilst also being an innovator.
The estate practices organic viticulture and Luca intends to establish full biodiversity in its soil and to follow permaculture principles. Grasses and cover crops that grow between the vines aren’t mowed or ploughed, providing a natural compost for the vines. Luca demonstrates the utmost respect for his land, with old vines, massale selection, and biodiversity at the core of his approach. Roagna’s approach to viticulture is deeply personal and draws inspiration from many sources, from Rudolph Steiner to Masanobu Fukuoka.
The Roagna winemaking approach applies the submerged cap vinification for at least 60 days. This is an incredibly gentle process which results in elegant and finessed wines. This tender, long and slow winemaking approach can see maceration vary in time from 60 to 90 days, depending on the wine and vintage.
Roagna’s wines are released later than most in Piedmont, spending between five and eight years in cask. One of Luca’s most impactful changes to the estate’s winemaking approach was to introduce the highest quality French oak casks that are 10cm thick; twice that of a standard cask. These thicker casks enable an unhurried micro-oxygenation, which enhances the elegance of the finished product.
Long ageing, wild yeast and long macerations capture the essence of their terroir, which is expressed in the bottle. Roagna produces deep, complex and structured wines that are built to age, and cellaring is generously rewarded. These are beguiling, intense and soulful wines.
We’re very excited to introduce the fantastic wines from the little-known Burgundy producer, Domaine Roblet-Monnot. Despite being over 150 years old and one of the first in the region to domaine bottle in the 1930s, this brilliant producer has largely stayed under the radar. That is until William Kelley of The Wine Advocate glowingly reviewed the most recent vintage, shining a spotlight on this 9-hectare Volnay based estate.
Pascal Roblet took over the domaine from his father at age 20 and began doing things very differently in the vineyards. He began farming biodynamically in 1997 and in 2002 stopped trimming the foliage to avoid stressing the vines – a practice made famous by Lalou Bize-Leroy and now certainly on trend. The vines are planted at very high density (12,000 vines per hectare) and yields are kept low (30-35 hl/ha). Horses are used in the vineyards instead of tractors to reduce soil compaction and the domaine is certified organic.
In the cellar Pascal favours long and gentle macerations, with some whole bunches used depending on the vintage and cuvee. Fermentation is with native yeasts and can often take up to 4 weeks during which only pigeage (punchdowns) is employed and relatively infrequently. The wines age for 18-24 months in larger oak barrels (400 litre) and new oak is minimal. Sulphur is only added at bottling.
The resulting wines are beautifully elegant and perfumed with a seductiveness that means they are difficult to resist.
“My tasting with Pascal Roblet was one of my most stimulating visits on the Côte de Beaune this year, so it is with some consternation that I see that this nine-hectare domaine, based in Bligny-lès-Beaune, hasn't been covered in these pages for over a decade… The results are superb: deep, concentrated and complex wines, with considerable aging potential, built around beautifully powdery tannins. Quite why this high-quality domaine languishes in comparative obscurity escapes me; but when the wines are this good, it is only a matter of time until people start paying attention, so I encourage readers to acquaint themselves with Domaine Roblet-Monnot while they still can.” – William Kelly, The Wine Advocate, Jan 2021
Stella di Campalto makes some of the most sought after wine in Montalcino and her wines are known all over the world. But it wasn’t always this way. Stella will be the first to tell you that she didn’t chose to be a winemaker, it chose her.
Her family acquired the San Giuseppe property, in a remote area just south of Montalcino, in 1992. The land had been abandoned in the 1940s and was overgrown and in poor shape. Although Stella had no winemaking experience, she was convinced by her aunt who reads tarot cards that she should apply for an EU grant to start a winery. Her grant was approved, one of only three grants allocated in all of Tuscany.
Stella decided to move to the farm for just one summer, but the experience in the vineyard changed her in ways she hadn’t imagined. She ended up staying for years in a rustic house with no TV or modern conveniences, little disposable income, and with two toddlers in tow. She broke ground herself, planting all of the vineyards, and although those early years were incredibly tough, she told us “they were the best years of my life.”
Stella was a pioneer from the outset, making the decision to go organic in 1995 and biodynamic in 2002. long before most people had even heard of such a thing. She rolled up her sleeves and listened to what the land was telling her. Working the land, she says, gave her the energy to keep going.
To hear Stella talk about her wines is an incredible experience. She told us one was like “a classical dancer, delicate but very strong with perfect balance.” Another was like “an artist living in a loft in New York,” and one was “a bit full of himself, he needs to sit in the corner for a while until he is a little more easy going.” We could listen to Stella talk about her winemaking methods all day, her energy is infectious and this is reflected in her truly outstanding wines.
In the last decade, the Canary Islands, and particularly Tenerife, have become well-known for their volcanic wines. They are wild and intense, yet elegant with superb minerality. During this time, Jonatan Garcia Lima has established Suertes del Marques as one of the finest producers in Tenerife (along with Envinate).
Based in the Valle de la Orotava, the cooler part of Tenerife, Suertes del Marques farms incredibly old vines, some up to 200 years old. Tenerife never suffered phylloxera and is one of only a few places in the world with own-rooted vines. They farm organically using the local training method – cordon trenzado – where long braided vines are held up by crutches.
Not one to sit back and relax, Jonatan Garcia Lima embarked on a new project with his friend, viticulturist Jose Angel Alonso Ramos, called Sortevera. The vineyards are in the Taganana, on the Northeast side of the island, an extremely rugged area where steep cliffs plunge into the sea. These old vines were made famous as single parcel wines from Envinate and now are the basis for the Sortevera wines. Vines here are bush pruned close to the ground.
Both the Suertes del Marques and Sortevera wines are fermented with Indigenous yeast, see minimal sulphur during elevage, and are generally made in large neutral oak barrels. While the Suertes del Marques are often single variety wines, the Sortevera wines are field blends with all varieties harvested and vinified together, lending a wild character to them. There is an unmistakeable volcanic character to these incredibly vibrant and refined wines.
Like many in France, Thierry Germain of Domaine des Roches Neuves comes from a long line of winemakers and is known the world over for being a leader in biodynamic wine production.
Originally from Bordeaux, he moved to the Loire Valley in the early 1990s where he was mentored by Charly Foucault of the incomparable Clos Rougeard. Their friendship ultimately resulted in converting Thierry Germain’s entire domaine to biodynamic viticulture.
This biodynamic approach meant Thierry developed a deep passion for holistically listening to his vineyards, giving him an understanding of all the activity occurring from the soil to the fruit and everything in between. This is evident in every bottle of his wine produced.
La Revue du Vins de France awarded Thierry Germain’s 2012 and 2013 vintages a 3-star rating: one of just two wines in the Loire Valley to receive such recognition.
Shortly after receiving this accolade, Thierry suffered a catastrophic brain injury that left him with severe amnesia. He couldn’t recognise his own family or leave home for fear of losing his way. Thierry’s recovery was slow and when he was finally able to return to winemaking, he questioned the entire process. He now makes wine “with emotion”, meaning he feels every aspect of the land and plants that contribute to the magnificent end result. His approach is to ‘make wine on the vine’, meaning the hard work is done in the vineyard rather than during the winemaking.
His dedication to site specific wines from Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc has enabled him to produce some of the most exciting wines in the entire Loire Valley.
"The elegance, precision and purity of Germain’s Cabernet Franc are something else entirely, almost Burgundian." - Jason Wilson, Vinous
It’s always hard to pick our favourites, but these are the wines we are enjoying right now
Olivier Collin is frequently seen as a Champagne newcomer, but in fact the Collin family has been making wine in the small village of Congy since written records began. A leading voice in the ‘grower Champagne’ movement, Olivier has become one of the most exciting winemaking talents in the region.
But it almost was not to be. In 1987, Olivier’s father sold the company and began renting all the family’s vines to a large négociant. But after a life changing trip to Burgundy, Olivier was inspired to reclaim his family’s land and become a winemaker. He attended law school for eight years to prepare himself for the battle to win back the rights to farm his own land. By 2005 all 8.7 hectares of his family’s heritage vines had been retrieved.
Starting from scratch, Olivier set about rehabilitating the soil which had not been ploughed in eighteen years. He also decided to pioneer a different approach, eschewing Champagne’s typical multi-parcel, multi-vintage blends in favour of single vineyard expressions – an idea that was all but unheard of at the time. To this day, Ulysse Collin is the one of the only estates in Champagne to make all its wines this way.
All fermentations occur in oak barrels from Burgundy which is also incredibly rare. As is the amount of time Olivier allows his wines to mature; anywhere between 36 months to ten years. All of these factors, combined with Olivier’s incredible passion, make Ulysse Collin a world class producer.