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Located in the province of Verona, in the oddly named village of Pedemonte (which one would usually associate with Barolo and Barbaresco), Accordini is a master of the Ripassa style and the Corvina grape variety. Guido Accordini represents the third generation of his family to make wine.
"A tiny Amarone producer of impeccable quality; the Le Bessole bottling has traditional spice, earth notes, and deep fruit; the Riserva is tannic; most of the wines offer elegance and food-friendly acidity." 
Anthony Dias Blue

One of the newcomers, Adegas Valmiñor was founded in 1997 and is  based in Rosal and boasts a new, ultramodern winery that makes some 200,000 bottles per year of 100% Albariño "Valmiñor". (Note: “Adegas” means “bodegas” [winery] in the local Galician dialect). Owner, Carlos Gomez, produces about 15,000 to 17,000 cases of pure Albariño wine per year.

When Francesco Monaci established this winery, he had no idea of the frenzy his wines would inspire. In only a handful of vintages, his Brunello and Rosso have become some of Montalcino’s most sought after wines. A nephew of consorzio president, and famed producer, Giancarlo Pacenti, Francesco had long dreamed of making great wines in the Montalcino area, but was not able to find the perfect vineyard until 1991. The steep Sangiovese vineyard that he finally found, in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, offered the potential to realize his goal.

The seven-hectare vineyard he found is perfectly situated, with a full southern exposure. This allows for incredible ripeness even in the old, low-vigor Sangiovese clones he favors. Grapes are harvested by hand and then strictly sorted to eliminate sub-standard fruit. The fermentation takes 25-30 days in vat and stainless steel before racking into large Slovenian oak casks and smaller French oak barriques. Only the finest lots are selected for Brunello.

This is one domaine that takes great pride in its Rosso, treating it much like the Brunello. Pieri is the only producer ever to earn Gambero Rosso’s prestigious Tre Bicchieri score for a “mere” Rosso di Montalcino. That wine, the 1995, caused a sensation with its amazing concentration and persistence— it easily outpaced most Brunellos and set a new benchmark for the appellation. And, always looking to push his wines further, Francesco has begun collaborating with Fabrizio Moltard for the 2002 vintage. Together, they aim to enhance the expressive sense of place that a unique vineyard, and unique appellation, can produce.

In 1320 Pope Jean XXII planted the first vines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but it was only in 1360 that the wines of the region first gained fame.  Oddly, the wine that gave Châteauneuf-du-Pape its original reputation was the Blanc and not the Rouge.  The white wine was a favorite of Pope Innocent VI.  The Domaine dates back to 1826, having been founded at that time by Mathieu Jaume.  Since 1979, Alain Jaume has run the Domaine and now has the help of his two sons:  Sébastien and Christophe. 
"Popes throughout history have liked their juice, and when the papal see moved to Avignon in the 13th century, that juice was
Châteauneuf-du-Pape ("the pope`s new castle") made from grapes grown nearby in the Southern Rhône. The castle is a ruin now, the papal court long gone back to Rome, but the wines that bear the pope`s coat of arms emblazoned on the bottle are still produced more or less according to the long-standing recipe. Not every winemaker uses all 13 of the grapes in the proscribed blend, though. At Domaine Grand Veneur, an estate that dates to 1826, Alain Jaume and his sons Sebastien and Christophe emphasize Grenache blended with Syrah and Mourvèdre."
- Los Angeles Times

"Improved Châteauneuf with very accomplished, stylish reds since the late 1990s; also very good Vacqueyras and Côtes-du-Rhône Villages." - Anthony Dias Blue`s pocket guide to wine 2006

"Grand Veneur is one of the most brilliant estates in Chateauneuf du Pape as well as the force behind the negociant wines sold under the Alain Jaume label. Virtually everything they produce has merit. Some of this estate`s 2009 red wines are just hitting the market as they are bottled early to preserve their fruit and freshness. I can`t say enough about the job Alain Jaume`s two sons, Sebastian and Christophe, have done with this estate. The impeccable attention to detail in the vineyards, the meticulous vinification, and the careful bottling benefit every consumer." - Wine Advocate (#190, August 2010)

"Great bargains continue to emerge from Domaine Grand Veneur as well as from their negociant arm of the business, labeled Alain Jaume" - Wine Advocate (#195, June 2011)

With Alberice, the “terroir is in the bottle.”  Located near Corno di Rosazzo, not far from the Slovenian border in the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, Alberice enjoys a unique microclimate in addition to a richness of native grapes.
The estate`s approx. 60 acres of vineyards curl and cut into the region`s many hillsides, cut ages ago by the local river Corno. Soils are a unique mix called “ponca,” a blend of volcanic soils and glacial debris that is incredibly mineral, giving Alberice wines (especially the whites) a pronounced, nervy edge.

Weather also contributes to the freshness and purity of wines from Alberice. Standing at the ridge of one of the estate`s many hillside vineyards, you can feel the winds from the Alps in your face; the moderate sea influence from the Gulf of Trieste too keeps the region cool. This special combination means grapes at Alberice are harvested a good week or two later than surrounding regions, resulting in more concentration and better balance in each bottle.
Wines—almost exclusively single-varietals, to further showcase the purity and richness of Friuli`s native grapes such as Malvasia and Refosco—are fermented and aged exclusively in stainless steel, to preserve both the freshness of fruit and the mineral character of the land.

Alexana Wines was born of Dr. Madaiah Revana`s love of the great wines of Burgundy. In the spring of 2005, Dr. Revana began a search for both the ideal region and an experienced winemaker with the goal of making Pinot Noirs that could rival those from Burgundy. His search ended in Oregon`s Willamette Valley, where he met Lynn Penner-Ash.

Lynn`s reputation stretches beyond the borders of Willamette Valley where she has crafted world-class wines for two decades. She has established herself as a premier winemaker of Burgundian-style wines with her label, Penner-Ash. Wine Spectator said she brings “the perfect blend of science, artistry and passion…. Her signature style has brought a new perspective” to winemaking.

Michele Alois is a native of Caserta province. He and his family are important manufacturers of gorgeous silk fabrics - his works are displayed at the Vatican, at the Louvre in Paris, and even at the White House in Washington, DC. Historically, the height of Caserta`s fame as a silk producer was during the time of the Bourbon kings and in fact the famous Bourbon palace in that City is second only to Versailles in size and fame. By 1992, Michele had succumbed to his desire to be a Viticoltore, planting initially 2 hectares of 9 different, historical varietals that had all but disappeared since the time of the Bourbons - including Pallagrello Bianco and Pallagrello Nero, varietals well-loved by the king and his courtiers. By 2000, there were 14 Hectares and when they are finished, the estate will boast 18 hectares of grapes indigenous to Caserta. Pallagrello Nero and Casavecchia are sturdy, aromatic red grapes with substantial tannins and the potential for nobility, similar in some ways to the other local native, Aglianico. The grapes do extremely well in the volcanic-mineral soils of the area. Casavecchia is a historical varietal, about which Pliny the Elder had written effusively but which had disappeared until an enormous, ancient vine was rediscovered behind an old house - a “casa vecchia”. Nowadays, even though there is still not much Casavecchia planted, all plantings are said to be cuttings from that one, original old tree behind the old house.

The winery moved forward recently by hiring as consultant one of the top local enologists, Carmine Valentino. And Michele`s son Massimo - an irresistible personality, has begun full time work promoting the fruits of the Fattoria`s labor.

“The goal of the Alois family is to obtain national and international success with autochthonous grape varieties of their Campania region, utlilizing genuine biologic techniques to obtain quality wines from the antique Casavecchia and Pallagrello grapes, rediscovered by the Bourbon family, and the traditional Aglianico and Falanghina grapes.”

Alvaro Palacios

If anyone embodies the promise and spirit of “The New Spain,” it`s Alvaro Palacios. His L`Ermita is widely considered along with Peter Sisseck`s Dominio de Pingus — to be the most important new Spanish wine of the modern era.

One of nine children born to the owners of Rioja`s respected Palacios Remondo, Alvaro studied enology in Bordeaux, while working under Jean-Pierre Moueix at Ch. Pétrus. He credits his tenure at Pétrus for much of his winemaking philosophy and for showing him “the importance of great wines.”

Alvaro could have returned to the security of his family`s domaine. But instead, he was drawn to the remote and seductive Priorat, 60 miles from Barcelona, which had been one of Spain`s important pre-Phylloxera wine regions. With its unique terroir of steep hills and terraces Alvaro believed that here he could make a wine that evoked both Pétrus and Grange.

He acquired his first vineyard, Finca Dofí, in 1990. Then, in 1993, he located what is now regarded as the crown jewel property in Priorat, a precipitous, northeast-facing Garnacha vineyard on well-drained schist that had been planted between 1900 and 1940. Alvaro named it for a small chapel, or hermitage, that sits atop the hill.

In 1995, the flow of critical praise for Alvaro`s L`Ermita began, and it hasn`t stopped. But while L`Ermita has received most of the attention, Alvaro produces several other wines compelling in their own rights: Finca Dofí and Les Terrasses.

Agnès and René Mosse live and work in the village of St-Lambert-du-Lattay, in the Coteaux-du-Layon area of Anjou. The Layon is a small tributary to the Loire that lazily digs its way through well exposed and drained hills of schist and sandstone. Its micro-climate allows for a long hang-time, and when the mornings are foggy in the fall, with no rain, botrytis develops easily on the Chenin grapes.

Previously, the Mosse had owned a wine-bar/wine retail in Tours, and they credit the great vignerons they met there, among them Jo Pithon and François Chidaine, as the impetus to become winemakers. They studied viticulture and oenology at the agricultural lycée in Amboise where two of their teachers were Thierry Puzelat (Clos du Tue Boeuf) and Christian Chaussard (Domaine le Briseau).

They spent two years working in Côte-de-Beaune, then bought the estate in St-Lambert in 1999. They work 13HA of vines, most of them planted with Chenin blanc (9HA), and Cabernets franc and sauvignon (3HA), the rest is planted with Gamay, Chardonnay, Grolleau Gris and Noir.

They adopted organic viticulture techniques from the start, plowing between and under the rows, and use biodynamic preparations to treat the vines and soil. In their area of Anjou Noir (Black Anjou, so called because of the dark color of the soils of slate and volcanic rocks), the soils are shallow, with subsoils of schist and sandstone, and varying amounts of clay on the surface.

With all the efforts put into vineyard work, it is equally important to them to vinify in a natural fashion, and they are particularly attentive to minimizing manipulations and the use of sulfur. All the wines are barrel-fermented and aged, and usually the whites go through their malolactic fermentation. The barrels are renewed as needed: they are containers, not oak flavor providers.

 

Producer`s Notes:

What force of nature brought Angiolino Maule to the vines? On meeting him, you would swear he was born to it, that he breathes it, that the vineyard is deeply a part of his soul. A man of true conviction in viticulture and viniculture, Angiolino actually started his working life as a pizzaiolo, or pizza maker, of some renown in Italy. But the earth and the vines were calling him all the while. Through his hard work and sterling reputation, Angiolino was able to save enough money to start his winery. He chose Gambellara and, principally, the Garganega grape to make his magical music in a glass.

Gambellara is ostensibly the extension of the Soave foothills in Veneto into the adjoining province of Vicenza where the wine changes its name, but not its general composition. The principal white grape is Garganega backed up with small amounts of Trebbiano. These hills are volcanic in origin, and have rich, dark mineral soils with good amounts of fine clay. They are south facing slopes that are protected from the blasts of Alpine northern winds by the southern Dolomites. The altitude here is between 150 to 250 meters.

Angiolino`s estate, in the hamlet of Biancara, now covers about 9 HA. For more than 16 years now, he has plowed in his vines and not used any soil treatments, chemical or otherwise. Using biodynamic viticultural practices, Angiolino has created an organic, living soil and ecosystem for benefiting the health of the vines and their resistance to any form of malady. He is unwavering in his belief that great wines are the result of healthy, beautiful, handpicked fruit, and the only way to achieve this is through natural processes.

Furthermore, he believes that the work in the cellar -- vinification, aging and bottling --must be consistent with the work in the vines and involve no additives that compromise the natural fruit material, for better or worse. The vinifications are conducted without temperature control, the addition of sulfur, enzymes or yeast and without the use of fining or filtration. Annually the production is between 35 to 45K bottles.

“The wine is the fruit of the earth transformed by mankind; it is the oldest natural beverage known to us. The quality of a wine is that which is imparted by the vineyard; it is indispensable to return to a viticulture and viniculture without chemicals in order to make wines that are expressive of their origins, unique and inimitable and that rise above the standardization and homogeneity that defines the majority of wines commercially available today.”
-Angiolino Maule.

 

 

Perched on a hilltop over 500 meters above sea level, the stunningly beautiful, perfectly, south west exposed, single vineyard of the Antico Borgo di Sugame overlooks the beautiful Greve Valley and its expansive vineyards, olive groves, blue skies and awe inspiring sunsets. Borgo di Sugame dates back to about 1200 AD, as an inhabited location. The meaning of the name Sugame is unknown but it is shared with the adjacent pass over the hills between the Val di Greve and the upper Val d`Arno.

The perfectly manicured Sugame vineyard totals nearly five hectares and is comprised, mainly of sandy-lime soil with a small percentage of clay. There are also 2 hectares of olive trees and an additional 28 hectares of woodland. Vines in the Sugame vineyard average 28 years of age with some newer plantings now 7 years old. Below the main vineyard are very old vines that were planted and are cultivated in the old, traditional style.

All wines produced at Sugame are certified organic and follow traditional viticulture and vinification practices of the Chianti Classico. The Sugame wines are not fermented or aged in new, French oak barrels and are not manipulated in any way or "made" in the cellar.

 

The company Aragón y Cía. was founded in 1946, but the winery itself has been in operation since at least 1877. A prize awarded at the Córdoba wine exhibition of that year documents that the winery was producing wine at that date, and it`s more than likely that the installations were in operation well before 1877. Situated in Lucena in the province of Córdoba, the Aragón cellars hold some 2,500 "botas" (500 liter oak barrels) using the "solera" system to convert fresh white wine from Pedro Ximénez grapes into the typical "finos", "amontillados" and "olorosos" of Montilla-Moriles.

Antoine and Marie Arena are beloved personalities of the natural wine scene in France. They are a little older than most of their colleagues in that loose grouping, and revered as pioneers in their isolated corner of Corsica for the delicious wines they coax out of unforgiving rocky soils.

Antoine is leading the resurgence of an ancient local varietal, Bianco Gentile, which was rediscovered by a viticultural lab when they took a census of all the varietals in existence on the island. Arena has planted a plot and now produces a Bianco Gentile as a Vin de Pays or Vin de Table, because the grape has not yet been included in the list of allowed varietals by the AOC.

Their estate has 13HA under vines, on limestone and clay and limestone soils, and the Arena clan, with sons Jean-Baptiste and Antoine-Marie, have converted their cultural methods from organic to bio-dynamic in the last five years. The vines are plowed and worked under the row with hoes, harvesting is done by hand in stainless steel trailers. The grapes are pressed gently and all aging is done in stainless steel vats.

Two major named plots produce both red and white wines. Grotte di Sole is exposed full south, Vermentinu and Niellucciu are planted at a density of 5000 vines per HA. Carco is the other lieu-dit, with a slope looking east and another looking west, planted with 4000 vines per HA. Their hamlet, Morta Maio, provides the name for their third red wine.
 

Luciano Saetti lives in Modena and makes an incredible DOC Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce from a very local strain of Lambrusco. He works completely organically in the vineyards, with nothing added in the cellar including sulfur.
 

The winery is located on the hills of Alto Monferrato, close to Acqui Terme, in the heart of one of the most precious areas of south Piedmont. The family business was founded in 1961 by Oreste Rinaldi. It is run today by his son Andrea and his daughter Paola. The family has been producing wine for 40 years from their vineyards located on a particularly privileged area with a favorable microclimate and a perfect southwestern exposure.

Of the hundreds of families who`ve produced and shipped Madeira over the past two centuries, only four remain: Blandy, Borges, D`Oliveira and Barbeito.

The first three of these are proud survivors from the nineteenth century—their legacy insured by having stockpiled old vintages during the Phylloxera epidemic of the the 1870s.

The Barbeitos, on the other hand, entered the business much later, in 1946. Yet, their accomplishment is nearly as great, given not only the number of firms that have since vanished, but the fact that they entered the business during a particularly dark time for Madeira.

During World War II, production and sales had ground to a virtual halt. The U.S. market disappeared because of a government ban on poorly made Portuguese glass bottles. And for six years, marauding U-boats made it nearly impossible to ship wine to Madeira`s most important market, the United Kingdom.

Looking Ahead. As a result, far more companies were leaving the business than were joining. But Mario Barbeito had faith in the future. He also believed—just as Charles Blandy, H.M. Borges and João D`Oliveira had done decades earlier—that the value of great Madeira could only go up as it became older and production of young vintages declined. And so, a former accountant for Borges, Barbeito went around the island buying substantial stocks of priceless old vintages from important families.

But while Barbeito saw those vintage wines as a nest egg for the future, he was content to let the wines age. He wisely built the business in the early years around more modest Madeiras.

It was left to his daughter Manuela—when she gradually took over the business from him in the 1970s—to begin selling her father’s priceless old vintages.

Thanks to her efforts, now-famous Barbeito wines like 1795 Terrantez, 1834 and 1875 Malvasia, and 1863 Bual began to make regular appearances at auction in London. This built a lasting reputation for the Barbeito name among Madeira collectors.

Ricardo Freitas. In the early 1990s, Manuela Barbeito began to turn over the reins of the company to her son Ricardo Freitas. Armed with a history degree from the University of Lisbon, Ricardo not only brought a deep respect for Madeira`s classical roots, he also brought new energy and new ideas to the company. One of these ideas was to restore the role that Madeira once had as a companion to food.

Ricardo also joined with The Rare Wine Co. to create our pioneering Historic Series Madeiras, which have pumped enormous new vitality into the once-vibrant American market for Madeira.

Of course, Ricardo is continuing his grandfather`s and mother`s legacy of sourcing great old wines, and preserving them for future generations. But he is also creating his own legacy: a series of Madeiras he calls his “Signature” wines.

These handcrafted wines combine the best elements of Madeira`s classical tradition with Ricardo`s own quest for purity and vineyard and varietal expression. Made in tiny lots, their astonishingly graceful style has prompted British wine critic Jancis Robinson to call Barbeito the “Lafite of Madeira.”

Bernard Baudry is one of the newer stars of the Chinon scene. A graduate of the Lycée de Beaune, Baudry created his 25-hectare estate out of family parcels and purchased land. He quickly rose to prominence in the appellation for precise, textured Chinon. Baudry is now retired and his son Matthieu, who has been making wine with his father since 2000 (not to mention New-Zealand and California before making his way back home) has taken over as head vigneron.

With a modern highway nearing completion, San Martín de Valdeiglesias lies a mere 75 minutes from Madrid and its three million inhabitants. Yet, the journey feels much longer, both in distance and in time. As one drives west from the capital city, the terrain quickly becomes rugged and mountainous, the air cooler, and one begins to see signs of an earlier era.

Bernabeleva. Here, on the eastern edge of Spain`s Sierra de Gredos mountains, a renowned Madrid doctor named Vincente Alvarez-Villamil purchased land in 1923. The site, which at that time was a full day’s travel from Madrid, spoke of its Celtic past, with ancient bears carved from boulders to mark forests dedicated to the hunt goddess.

But the estate, which Vincente named Bernabeleva (“the bear`s forest”), held more than just an ancient history—it was, he believed, a special place to plant the noble Garnacha (Grenache)—a place whose wines might exhibit profound character.

But the next decade brought increased political instability to Spain, and the Civil War that erupted in 1936 devastated the country. Though the family held onto the land, Vincente`s dream of making wine ended ... for the time being.

The Dream Lives On. But in 2006, two of Vincente`s great-grandchildren, Juan Diez Bulnes and Santiago Matallana Bulnes, vowed to fulfill their ancestor’s dream. The estate`s vineyards were now 80-years-old, and there were Garnacha vineyards to purchase from neighboring properties as well. Rejecting current fashions in Spanish wine, the cousins resolved to make wines of purity and expressiveness that were in harmony with the beauty of their ancestral land.

Juan and Santiago`s ambitions were well supported by the terroir. The vineyards are more than a half mile above sea level, with warm days but cool nights, and with poor, sandy soils. The resulting wines have ample ripeness, but also astounding bouyancy and freshness.

A Dream Realized. The cousins wanted, above all, to protect the unique personality of their estate, and they hired consultant Raúl Pérez, a master of cool-climate winemaking, to help them develop the project.

Just as important, they hired as full-time manager a young Catalan named Marc Isart Pinos. Marc`s devotion to demanding viticulture and to non-interventionist winemaking have served the cousins` vision well.

Their regime emphasizes long fermentations, and minimal handling. Wines are aged in barrels of different sizes, but very little new wood is used so as not to mask the glorious aromatics.

Olivares` estate vineyard, Finca Hoya de Santa Ana, is located in Jumilla`s northwestern quadrant, whose unique characteristics distinguish it from the rest of the appellation. For example, this special zone lies at over 800 meters elevation, where nights cool down quickly, resulting in wines with astounding freshness and equilibrium.

But, perhaps more importantly, Paco`s 65 hectare here boasts incredibly sandy soil and ungrafted vines, of which this may be the world`s largest individual holding. The former provides the wine with a rich perfume; the latter depth and complexity.

Bonal
Borgo Belvedere

Borgo Belvedere crafts some of the finest Pinot Grigio from the stony foothills of Friuli in northeast Italy.  Here these blushed-pink grapes drink Alpine-sized gulps of liquid minerals from the region`s tough soils, producing white wines with great verve and energy on the palate.

We select from Borgo Belvedere`s cellar the finest lots of Pinot Grigio—refreshing, low-alcohol and pure white wine that is always vinified in tank to preserve every bit of steely, limpid fruit.

Borgo Belvedere`s location is breathtaking.  The towering Alps to the northeast of the winery create a natural border with Slovenia and Austria; to the east, the Adriatic laps up on the shores of Trieste, the region`s capital. This ideal combination of cool mountain air and warm sea breezes allows grapes to ripen gradually and evenly.  Borgo Belvedere`s vineyards are littered with chalky stones, left behind by receding glaciers and river runoff, which give wines great minerality.  These stones also help keep vineyards at optimum temperatures, absorbing the warmth of the day and releasing this heat through the long, chilly mountain nights.

Walter Bressia, owner and winemaker, has been in the Argentine wine trade for almost 30 years.  He was the winemaker at Bodega Vistalba and Viniterra from 1998 to 2003.  His years of experience are evident in his wines.  Walter and his wife Marita, along with their children, daughter Marita and son Walter, Jr. have been producing some of Argentina’s finest wines since 2003.


Walter’s concept involves the notion of “Vinos de Autor” (Author’s wines) or personalized high quality wines. Walter Bressia has 320 oak barrels, almost all new French and American oak.  (60% French, 40% American)

Origin:  Tupungato, La Consulta, and Agrelo, Mendoza

Altitude:  Between 930 and 970 meters above sea level

Vine training:  High Vertical

Density:  6,500 plants per hectare

Producer`s Notes:

"It is our primary goal and priority to deliver the essence of that vineyard as clearly and honestly as possible."

At Brewer - Clifton, there is an utmost respect for nature. We believe that when working with a product of nature, it is necessary to always maintain an awareness of the elements and phenomena that are beyond our total understanding and control. If at any time that level of sensitivity is lessened, we risk the unavoidable degradation of the very goals that we are trying to pursue. As such, any intervention in the natural evolution of the product must be carried out with the utmost attentiveness and care.

We believe that the geographic, geologic and climatic uniqueness of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation provide an ideal place to grow chardonnay and pinot noir of intensity, complexity and specificity. Within the appellation, each vineyard carries its own imprint. Our mission and indeed our passion is to present wines that convey the characteristics inherent to each of these sites, with uncompromising quality.

Carlo Brunori learned to farm the sweet hills of Jesi from his father Giorgio, whom he and his sister Cristina affectionately refer to as "Babbo". About 6.5 hectares of low yielding Verdicchio are grown organically and harvested at the appropriate moment to yield Verdiccio dei Castelli di Jesi of uncommon richness and verve. An older parcel called "San Niccolò" grows in a sandy portion of the vineyard and is vinified into a cuvée of the same name, producing a wine that will improve for 3-5 years in the cellar, and in some vintages small quantities of San Niccolò Riserva "Black Label" are produced with cellaring potential of ten years or more.

Two rows of Montepulciano and Sangiovese, across the road from the main vineyards, yield fine Rosso Piceno called "Torquis", and in nearby Morro d`Alba the family leases a small vineyard of Lacrima, from which they obtain "Alborada" Lacrima di Morro d`Alba (no relationship to the other Alba, in Piedmont - isn`t Italy fun?!).

Strict organic methodology is combined with a minimalist philosophy in the cellar, where cement tanks are utilized for elaboration, and where the oak barrels tend to be of the neutral, larger variety. One finds a few small stainless steel fermentors and barriques because the winery`s small production sometimes requires micro-vinifications in smaller vessels. The whites are fined with clay, the reds with eggwhite.

An predictable wind which blows daily from the west then switches in the afternoon to the east dries the vineyards and makes organic viticulture relatively easy. Grass grows between the rows of vines, harboring life and holding the soil.

The farm, located between Reggio Emilia and Parma, is an old family property that can trace back its viticultural origin to the 900`s. Its philosphy is to combine the use of technology, constant innovation and tradition to obtain the best result and produce top quality wines. Today Lambrusco is enjoying a rebirth.
This is a small winery but is certainly big on quality, the kind of quality that only the natural fermentation of wines can guarantee.


Lambrusco is primarily produced in the Val Padana which lies between Piacenza and Bologna. Rich in sand and gravel, the vineyards are on a south to south east exposure and lie at about 200 meters above sea level in the Val Padana. The vines are an average of 25 years old.

In the winter of 1996 the Buil & Giné family decided to return to wine making in the Priorat. Both their grand and great-grand parents had been wine makers and merchants. Bringing this tradition back to life, the present generation is dedicated to growing grapes and producing in each of the two leading wine making areas located North East of Spain: Priorat and Montsant. This dream started to become true when in the spring of 1998 they introduced their first wine, Giné Giné 1997. The wine`s name consists of their grandfathers` two last names.

Burn Cottage Vineyard Property is a twenty four hectare estate in the foothills of the Pisa range in Central Otago, New Zealand. The vineyard is owned by the Sauvage family which also owns the celebrated Koehler Ruprecht estate in the Pfalz region of Germany, as well as several fine wine importing and wholesaling companies in the United States.

The property was purchased in 2002. It had been grazed by sheep for as long as can currently be remembered. There were, and are, no immediate vineyard neighbors. The site was much coveted in the region for it is sheltered from both northerly and southerly winds by large hills and forms a beautiful, protected bowl, much like a modern amphitheater.

The team recognizes that years of experience will be required to develop the full potential of the estate. Yet from day one the very highest standards have been applied to every aspect of vineyard development and to cellar practices. While Burn Cottage celebrates the diversity of wine styles around the world, the estate is a passionate believer that the true genius of any site can only shine through wines of balance, wines picked at balanced levels of potential alcohol, and which receive only judicious use of new oak and the application of minimal technology. Burn Cottage believes that the greatest expression of terroir is built upon the accumulated expertise of thousands of years of winegrowing worldwide and applied by those with a sense of humility and dedication to achieving the purest wines possible.

Cà de Noci was established in 1993 by the brothers Giovanni and Alberto Masini on their family’s estate near Reggio Emilia. For more than thirty years, the family has had a walnut forest on the property (hence the name “Walnut Farm”). In the 700`s the province of Emilia Romagna was known to have over 100 different grape varieties. The Masinis wanted to plant local traditional grapes that were slowly disappearing, among them the Spergola, Malbo Gentile and Montericco grapes.

The vines are planted in 5 hectares of rocky limestone soil along the Crostolo river. The dryness, and general poorness of the soils help give these grapes all their powerful flavor and minerality. At this estate all vines were planted in the 1990`s and, therefore are fairly young. They are cultivated using certified organic methods and only minimal treatments of natural copper sulfate and decoctions from plant or animal sources are used.

The grapes are hand-harvested in small caskets at maximum ripeness, with healthy skins, then destemmed and left in vats in the cool outside air overnight for extraction. The caps are punched down in the morning and the maceration on the skins continues for a long period, for some wines more than a week. The grapes are then pressed on a manual press and then racked into wood barrels or neutral vats. The wines are aged without filtration or fining.

Now consisting of about 50 hectares in the Soave classico (35 Ha) and Valpolicella (15Ha) appellations, Ca` Rugate was established by the Tessari family in 1986. That doesn’t, however mean the family has “only” been working in the region for 20+ years. Before the winery was established, the Tessari family worked a noble tradition of grape growing in the Soave Classico area around the town of Brognoligo, near Monteforte d`Alpone, for over 100 years, selling grapes to the local Cantina Sociale (cooperative). Indeed Michele`s grandfather, Fuvio “Beo” Tessari, now in his 90s, still gardens peacefully at the old Casa Rugate in the volcanic hills around the vineyards near Brognoligo town. In the 90s the ambitious family purchased and rehabilitated vineyards in the eastern, calcareous zone of Valpolicella, including the Monopole “Campo Lavei” which lies at 410 meters. A massive re-investement of profits into quality has lead to strenuous work in the vineyards, plantings of the finest available clones and modern vine training, coupled with an immaculate new winery (2002). All the hard work and investment has paid huge dividends and the wines of Ca` Rugate are now recognized as some of the finest in both Soave and Valpolicella.

Total production at the winery is now about 450,000 bottles. Everything the family pursues - including re-discovery of traditional wines almost forgotten in the area (for example, Vin Santo from 100% Garganaga) underscores their commitment to quality. The winery itself is located in Montecchia di Crosara. Beppe Caviola plays a strong role in every aspect of the wines` production.

Ca`Vittoria is a small Prosecco estate that has earned its spot at the top of Italy`s finest, with its mountain vineyards, estate-grown grapes and peerless quality in each bottle.

Ca`Vittoria owns ideal south-facing vineyards on the steepest hillsides, one of the key determinants of quality in the Prosecco zone. (Much commercial Prosecco comes from the lowlands of the appellation.) Here Prosecco vines are naturally lower yielding, and thus produce flavorful, concentrated berries. These high-altitude plots enjoy the cooling winds from the northern mountains, which helps to keep vines healthy as well as allows grapes to ripen evenly and slowly. With such an ideal confluence of weather and exposition, Ca`Vittoria can care for its vines naturally, avoiding the overt use of chemicals—allowing the pure, terroir-inspired flavor of mountain-grown Prosecco to express itself fully.

All hand-harvested grapes used to craft Ca`Vittoria Prosecco are estate grown—a unique situation that few other Prosecco estates can match. Vineyards are all centrally located around the estate in Conegliano, allowing Ca`Vittoria to pay extra close attention to the health and well-being of its vines—another quality notch that few other estates, with parcels scattered over the appellation, can claim. The estate`s cellar, dug into the cool granite “Cima Alta” hillsides, keeps Ca`Vittoria Prosecco at optimal temperatures during fermentation and aging.

From this estate`s impressive selection of excellent Prosecco, we select the finest, terroir-driven wines to import. Our selections include a non-vintage Ca`Vittoria Brut, which offers wonderful body and an invigorating acidity. The Ca`Vittoria Millesimato is a special vintage selection of top grapes and styled much like a vinous, dry Champagne.  The Ca`Vittoria Brut Rosé is a unique Prosecco rosé sparkler, that includes the addition of red wine from the native Veneto grape Raboso, adding color and zest. 
 

Caciorgna


Combine the seething energy of an active Sicilian volcano, and the dramatic, elegant flavors of grapes birthed from 100-year-old, pre-phylloxera vines, and the passion and talent of Italy`s top enologist.

The result? N`Anticchia, which in Sicilian dialect means “just a little."  This unique wine, pure Nerello Mascalese from the black-soil slopes of Mount Etna, transforms the raw complexity of its terroir into sheer elegance in the glass.

Cultivated for more than a century on the ashy, volcanic soils of Etna, Nerello vineyards were all but forgotten after World War II. Curious winemakers such as Caciorgna in the past decade have rediscovered the richness of Etna, and reclaimed vineyards, many with ancient, pre-phylloxera vines.  Nerello means “blackish,” a reference to both the color of its skin and the region`s volcanic soils. Mascalese means “of Mascali,” which refers to the port town of Mascali, on the coast.

Caciorgna`s first vineyard for N`Anticchia (Say naan-TEE-cha) was one small acre near Passopisciaro, on the northern face of Etna, with pre-phylloxera vines more than 100 years old—undoubtedly one of the first Nerello vineyards on the volcano.

Today this modest project totals just under five acres of vines. Two acres are located near Passopisciaro, at Passo Cannone and Bocca d`Orzo. Other vineyards are located near Solicchiata and Santo Spirito.  At more than 2,100 feet above sea level, these vineyards too are some of the highest in Europe. Vineyards are cultivated completely by hand, and wines are aged in a mix of new and older barrel.

Caciorgna chose the name, N`Anticchia, as he felt it best described his “small” Etna project and the very limited number of bottles he produces. The first vintage in 2005 saw only 1,800 bottles produced.

The Estate
The history of Calvados Morin began in 1889 in La Haye de Calleville in the Risle Valley, before Pierre Morin succeeded his father and transferred their small family business to Brionne, and from there finally to Ivry la Bataille, a charming small Norman town in the Eure Valley. Calvados Morin was set up in 1945 in the former facilities of the Thélème Distillery, a famous liquor at that time. The main advantage of the establishment is its ageing facilities, which are unique in Normandy, particularly its large underground cellars, where several hundred small oak barrels containing the precious Brandy can be stored. Today, the company is run by Mr. Viry, father and son, who succeeded Pierre Morin, and continue to work in the footsteps of their founder. The company has been exporting its products since 1950s, and now exports almost half of its production to the European Community, Switzerland, Eastern Europe and Asia. In addition, it was one of the first to send Calvados to the United States.

The Environment
The unique environment of the cellars plays an important role in the development of the Calvados. Dug into the chalky hills of the Eure Valley, the long galleries go deep into the cliff. The extremely humid atmosphere of these places is perfect for the Calvados ageing process, maturing in silence, away from the vibrations of the city. The relative humidity of the air (almost 100%) allows the alcohol content to decrease naturally, resulting in the smoothest, most harmonious brandy. Calvados Morin offers a broad range of quality levels, ranging from 3-year old to over 30-year old brandies. 

 

The Camerano winery is located in the heart of the Langhe region, within the village of Barolo. Founded in 1875, Camerano is the second oldest wine producer within the commune of Barolo. The family has been producing traditional, classic Piemontese wines for 5 generations on their 22.5 acres of prime vineyard sites around the village of Barolo (15.5 acres planted to Nebbiolo). Their prize vineyards are two grand cru, estate-owned holdings in the Cannubi, Cannubi San Lorenzo, and Terlo crus.

Using time honored, ultra-traditional methods, handed down from one generation to the next, the Camerano family has remained out of the limelight producing and selling wines only locally, at their cellar door, and to private customers in Italy. Truly a family owned and run operation, with the 1995 vintage, son Vittorio assumed wine making responsibility from his father and the family began exporting small quantities of their wine for the first time. Camerano wines exemplify the very best in family owned and run artisan wine production. All Camerano wines are produced in extremely small quantities.

Produced from extremely low yield vines, the Camerano Barolos spend ten to fifteen days macerating and after fermentation are then aged in old 25, 30 and 50 hectolitre casks. Camerano`s traditionally made Barolos are always "young" compared to the other Barolos of the same age, as their wines need time and patience to develop. On entering the cellars, tradition-conscious visitors are immediately struck by the large, oak casks, the equipment from days gone by, and the labels showing historic vintages of Camerano wines. When you open a bottle, a true Barolo, King of all Italian wines, reveals "himself" slowly, allowing a view to the "offspring" of the terroir of Barolo, along with the culture and history of the Camerano family.

Cannubi, also known as Cannubio, is derived from the Italian word for union, which best describes the rare hybrid of Barolo`s two distinct soil types - Tortonian and Helvetian - marrying their respective characteristics of perfume and elegance with structure and concentration. The prestigious Cannubi vineyard lies where three communes of the appellation converge: Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, and La Morra. The Cannubi vineyard extends north and eastward, overlooking the commune of Barolo. The reputation of the vineyard has become legendary; with the label of the oldest remaining bottle of Piedmontese wine bearing the name Cannubi dated at 1752.

The entire Cannubi hillside is one of the most prestigious growing areas in the Barolo area, encompassing in total, only about 12 acres. The San Lorenzo vineyard is about 4.5 acres in size and enjoys a southwestern exposure at an elevation of 280 meters. The soil is made up of 40% sand, 40% limestone and 20% clay deposits dating back over 10 million years. The Camerano family has owned parcels in the perfectly exposed Cannubi and Cannubi San Lorenzo since the early 1800s.

 

The Gasperini family has been producing wine in the prestigious area of D.O.C. Frascati, Marino and Colli Albani since 1909 following the most modern technologies and respect to tradition.

Cappellano

Importer`s Notes:

Originally we had decided not to pursue an estate in Barolo. We wanted to concentrate our efforts in Italy on less exposed and controversial denominations in Italy. Wines that had more innate charm than pedigree. However, we stumbled into the wines of Cappellano and the man himself and were immediately attracted to them.

Teobaldo Cappellano was a tall, pensive and imposing man, until you spoke with him and realized that his genuine warmth and gentle passion showed in his wry smiles that often appeared during his conversations.

He was a maverick and a staunch Barolista. His family has been producing Barolo since shortly after the unification of Italy. He has only 3 hectares of vine and very small, hand-crafted production.

The estate produces 2 Barolos, 2 Barberas and a Dolcetto. In the late 1800`s, Teobaldo’s ancestor Dottore Giuseppe Cappellano invented Barolo Chinato, a medicinal tonic from a proprietary recipe of herbs, bark, sugar and Barolo wine that became fashionable in the Court of the Italian Savoy Kings and now remains the best and most sought after version, used as a digestive or a match for chocolate. Teobaldo guards the production of this wine and seems at the same time to love it and find it its success absurdly amusing.

The Barolos, and one of the Barberas, come from the Gabutti vineyard of Serralunga d`Alba and referred to as Otin Fiorin, in reference to the vineyard tender for many years by the name of Fiorin. The two Barolos are differentiated by their vines. The first, Barolo Pie Rupestris – Per Nebioli, is from vines planted over 40 years ago on American rootstock (Rupestris). It is not certain which particular strain of Nebbiolo was planted then and so the reference Per Nebioli refers to its unidentified clone. The second Barolo, Pie Franco – Michet, is from vines planted 20 years ago by Teobaldo himself, without grafting onto American rootstock, hence Pie Franco (Franc de Pied, as it referred to in French), or “french foot”.

The wines are fermented along traditional lines for 2- 3 weeks, without added yeasts, in stainless steel (ones designed by Cappellano himself) and glass-lines cement vats. Then they go into barrels of interdeterminate age for a minimum of 3 years, sometimes longer. They are bottled without filtration.

Cardamaro

Many wineries say they cultivate old vines, but not ones with roots as far back as 800 BC. Many, too, say their terroir is unique—but few are built on sea-green lava beds wrought by the power of ancient volcanoes and the salty, mineral richness of the Mediterranean sea.

Casa d`Ambra can claim both. We were drawn to Casa d`Ambra not only because of the rich viticultural history of Ischia, a beautiful island off the coast of Naples in Campania, but also for the thrill of discovering grapes and wines that so perfectly embody the power and spirit of the sea.

Founded in 1888, the Casa d`Ambra winery has (and continues to be) a family affair. Francesco d`Ambra, originally from Calabria, founded the estate; yet it was his son, Mario, who established Casa d`Ambra as the authority on Ischian wines from cultivating its unique, native grapes. Today, winemaker and enologist (and nephew of Mario) Andrea d`Ambra runs the estate, managing not only the winery`s own vineyards but also the small group of dedicated, local farmers who help to grow grapes for the winery.

Casa d`Ambra cultivates native grapes Biancolella, Forestera and Per`e Palummo that are only found on the volcanic island of Ischia.  Vineyards are carved into volcanic rock, which sport a unusual sea-green color, a result of mineral deposits from the sea. You can really taste this sea salty, mineral influence especially in the estate`s white wines—making them a sublime pair for seafood.  

More than 100 years of winemaking excellence, a serious respect for the unique terroir of Ischia, the thoughtful, knowledgeable guidance of the d`Ambra family and the uncompromising quality of their wines make Casa d`Ambra a treasure worth discovering.

The Estate
S.C.V. Castelmaure was founded in the 1920`s and today consists of 65 members, of which 15 bring 85% of the production. The winery is located in the unofficial Corbières cru site of Durban (there are 11 unofficial Crus in Corbières), which will become soon an official Cru together with Boutenac and Alaric. The Serre mountain in the south protects the little plateau of Castelmaure from the off weather patterns of the Mediterranean sea.  Patrick de Marien, the president of the cave, and Bernard Pueyo, the director, work in conjunction with Tardieu/Laurent in trying to produce wines of higher quality each year.

The Vineyard 
The AOC Corbières was created in 1985 and measures 23,000 hectares (56,810 acres). The appellation requires a minimum of two grapes in a wine blend.
The co-op farms 350 hectares (868 acres) around the tiny hamlet of Embres et Castelmaure.  The 760 parcels are inspected and the characteristics recorded on computer. Each parcel is supervised individually by a technician who dedicates his time to this task. They have re-learned to prune, plough, check yields, sort, select, with a permanent focus on the respect of the environment. All the grapes are harvested by hand. In the cellar, vats hygiene, temperature control, ultramodern pressing contribute to a better expression of the terroir.
Castelmaure produces 90% red wine of which 80% is A.O.C. Corbières.

The soil is made of schist, limestone, alluvial river wash and argilo-calcaire.

 

Founded in 1932, this Cave Coopérative is located in the top commune of Pomérols, located between the garrigue of Pezenas and the sea dominated by the Mont St Clair in Sete. The co-op has merged with the Cave de Castelmau de Guers. They include 320 members and produce 55,000 hectoliters of wine (600,000 cases).

The members control 1,200 hectares of vineyard land (2,964 acres) of which 330 hectares (815.1 acres) are Picpoul de Pinet. Six communes are entitled to the name Picpoul de Pinet:
Florensac, Pomerols, Pinet, Castelnau de Guers, Montagnac, Meze. The Pomerols vineyards stretch over vast sun-light terraces with clay/calcareous soils.

 

The Estate

Cave de Tain was founded in 1933 by 100 winegrowers from the district of Tain l`Hermitage. Its first president Louis Gambert de Loche was a land owner and a great humanist, from whom the Cave de Tain purchased the Hermitage vineyards.

Today the Cave de Tain has 370 grower-members and a total vineyard area of 1,140 hectares, of which 1,000 hectares are A.O.C. wines. At the foot of the famous Hermitage hillside, the Cave de Tain produces and sells five appellation contrôlée wines:

  • Hermitage
  • Crozes-Hermitage
  • St-Joseph
  • Cornas
  • St-Péray

The volume of these five wines vinified by the Cave de Tain represents almost half of the total volume of all northern Rhône AOC wines produced. The Cave also produces single varietal vins de pays wines from Syrah and Marsanne grapes grown on the outskirts of the appellation areas in the northern Rhône hills.

The wines of the Cave de Tain are recognized for their quality. The objective of the Cave is to provide wine lovers around the world with authentic wines which bear the full character of their individual " terroir ", bringing out the best through careful and non-intrusive vinification methods.

The Vineyard

The winemakers supervise each stage of vinification, from grape reception, classified according to quality, right up to bottling. The cellar team makes every effort to respect the inherent characteristics of each vintage, to ensure a harmonious and natural finished product after vinification.

In this highly traditional vineyard, successive generations have contributed to the growth and development of the winery by producing grapes of a quality they strive to constantly improve.

Cerbaiona

 

Importer`s Notes:

For the past two decades, the public`s idea of Brunello has increasingly been a modern wine, deeply colored, layered with oak, and delivering flavors not dissimilar to bold red wines from other regions and other countries.

But long before Modernism came to Montalcino, Brunello was second only to Barolo as Italy`s most revered wine precisely because it was unlike any other wine in the world possessing a warm autumnal color, uniquely compelling forest-floor aromas and an opulent texture of pure velvet, unadorned by flavors of new wood.

The more we taste Brunello, the more we understand the wines most deserving of our reverence are those of a handful of surviving traditionalists who continue to make such wines, and to do so at the very highest level. One of the very greatest of these is Diego Molinari`s tiny Cerbaiona estate.

Starting from Scratch. Diego was an Alitalia pilot for 25 years before retiring in the late 1970s to pursue his winemaking dreams. He and his dynamic wife, Nora, looked at several vineyards before discovering the bucolic Cerbaiona estate, located on a ridge just east of Montalcino.

When he arrived, Molinari had an abundance of enthusiasm, but needed practical knowledge. So he visited many of the region`s top estates, asking questions and trying to find his way. Diego was particularly inspired by Biondi-Santi, whose traditionally driven philosophy he was determined to follow.

Consequently, he and Nora soon set about rehabilitating Cerbaiona`s ancient farmhouse and planting a small vineyard not surprisingly, with vine cuttings from the Biondi-Santi estate.

Though Diego was adapting his practices in both the vineyard and cellar, he was steadfast in his commitment to honor Montalcino`s winemaking traditions based on magical old bottles he`d tasted.

Simplicity Itself. Winemaking at Cerbaiona is straight-forward. The grapes are harvested by hand and pressed in a vintage wood-sided press before fermenting in cement tanks. After a period of settling, the Brunello spends 4+ years in cask and at least 6 months in bottle before release. Nothing is added (no yeasts, no enzymes) and nothing is subtracted (no fining or filtration).

With winemaking this straightforward, the explanation for Cerbaiona`s excellence must lie with Diego`s tiny 3-ha vineyard (1/2 Brunello, 1/2 IGT). While much is written about the difference between northern and southern Montalcino wines, Cerbaiona lies in an intermediate zone. Consequently, the vineyard yields beautiful fruit which balances the south`s ripeness with the freshness and structure of the north.

Of course, none of this would matter without a forceful mind to guide the process. Diego`s careful, organic husbandry of his vineyard, his short-pruning for low yields, and his courage to let the wine express Montalcino`s evocative character without “make-up” are integral to Cerbaiona`s compelling wines.

 

Château de la Terrière totals 18 hectares, located in the largest of the 10 Beaujolais Crus, Brouilly. The Chateau - built in the 13th Century, sits near Mt Brouilly, an ancient volcano looming 1000 meters high in plain view south of the estate. The soils are pure, rose-colored granite. The wine estate was purchased by the Barbet family in 2003, a family with roots going back 200 years in the area`s wine trade. The vines range in age from 45 to 70 years and are trained using the “gobelet” method, an ancient method of vine training involving no wires or other system of support, and resulting in a goblet shaped growth. Vineyards are planted on south-sloping vineyard sites. The resulting wines, in fairness, should be tasted and consumed only in a fine Burgundy bowl - as the wines share many aromatic characteristics with their heartier cousins further north in the Côte de Nuits. That said, they exude lightness, fun, and fantastic drinkability and the Crus - especially the Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent - have a surprising age-ability. Farming is completely organic and the winery has a real commitment to sustainability.

Château de Ségriès

 

The Estate
In 1994, Henri de Lanzac, cousin of Christophe Delorme from Domaine de la Mordorée, purchased the Domaine and began to improve the quality of the wine. "Ségriès" in provencal means "water spring". This family owned and operated winery is located in Lirac and produces some of the best values in my portfolio. They produce the following A.O.C. wines:
          * Tavel Rosé
          * Côtes du Rhône Rouge
          *
Lirac Rouge
          * Lirac Blanc
" An old Lirac estate with recent signs of revival under the new owners; the reds are medium weight, good to drink inside six years; charming Tavel." - Anthony Dias Blue`s pocket guide to wine 2006

"A super value treasure trove in the southern Rhone, Ségriès is a large estate of 109 acres brought back to life over the last decade by Henri de Lanzac. The wines continue to go from strength to strength."- Wine Advocate (#178, Aug. 2008)

"Over the last fifteen years, this property has been transformed into one of the better value producers in the Côtes du Rhone. The old, oxidized, vegetal offerings have been replaced with classic examples of Provencal wines that are fresh and fruity with ripe tannins."
- Wine Advocate (#190, Aug. 2010)

"The new releases from proprietor Henri de Lanzac are all impressive."
- Wine Advocate (#195, June 2011)

Château Gravas was founded in 1789 and has been in the Bernard family for five generations. It is currently owned by Michel and Florence Bernard.  The name "Gravas" comes from "graves", a gravelly soil that perfectly suits the production of Sauternes wines.  The estate is superbly located in Barsac between Château Coutet, Château Climens and Château Doisy-Daëne. The total production is 2,000 cases/year.

Château Hélène

Michel Dietrich and his wife Isabelle hail, respectively, from Alsace and Champagne. Shy but enormously generous and kind, I was recently fortunate to spend an entire weekend with the couple in Bordeaux enjoying their amazing hospitality. An estate of 80 hectares, Haut Rian (originally named “Haut-Rions” in honor of their town – but the Bordeaux AOC put the kibosh on that – too close to a famous first growth that shall go un-named!) sweeps up the bluffs from the appellation Premières Côtes de Bordeaux inland to Entre-Deux Mers, even touching into Cadillac. Michel studied winemaking in Burgundy and Bordeaux before the couple left to spend several years between 1981 and 1987 broadening their horizons in Australia, where Michel worked as director and oenlogist for Rémy Martin Vineyards, before returning to France to purchase Château Haut Rian in 1988. Vineyards are all south to southeast, in general with gravelly limestone soils, but the concept of a multitude of parcels, in different hamlets all with different characteristics of soil types and expositions is central to the philosophy of producing the best possible wine in any given vintage.

Château Haut-Ballet

Importer`s Notes:

Put yourself in a time machine and travel back 200 years or so, to the great wine region of Canon-Fronsac in Bordeaux`s Right Bank.  These gravel-rich slopes birthed Merlot-based wines that back then were more popular (and fetched far higher prices) than even the wines of Pomerol.

Today, we don`t need a time machine to stock an impressive cellar—the greatness of Fronsac has been reclaimed by inspired winemakers who recognize and value great terroir.  Proprietor Olivier Decelle, the vinous visionary who ably guided the great Mas Amiel winery in Perpignan (as well as the Chateau Jean Faure in St.-Emilion) back to its legendary status, has a similar vision for Chateau Haut-Ballet in Canon-Fronsac.

This impeccable estate sits on a stony plateau above the Dordogne river, near the village of St. Michael de Fronsac—terroir similar to the finest in Pomerol. Soils here are a combination of chalk, clay and limestone; 35 year old vines (just 4 hectares` worth) are cared for organically and are very low yielding (barely 20 hl/ha), producing a vibrant, unforgettable 100% Merlot Bordeaux that drinks like a premier cru.

You`ll find excellent saturation, wonderfully fresh and juicy, almost “crunchy” fruit, along with Bordeaux elegance, finesse and supple length. Decelle always performs both green harvests and discards fruit that isn`t to the highest of standards. Few other small estates can be so exacting; this dedication to quality is what sets great estates like Haut-Ballet apart from the rest.

Part visionary, part taskmaster, and 100% dedicated to world-class Bordeaux, Olivier Decelle has in a few short years transformed the long-neglected estate of Jean Faure to the levels expected of a top-tier St.-Emilion property—and beyond.

This is the stuff Bordeaux dreams are made of—Jean Faure`s approximately 40 acres sit to the west of Chateau La Dominique; just 300 feet further grow Cheval Blanc`s vines. Chateau Figeac is around the corner; l`Evangile is up the road.

Yet it takes more than just great terroir to make legendary wine. Decelle (the same man who transformed the historic Mas Amiel in Perpignan into one of the most innovative wineries in the south of France) has assembled an impressive team, both in the fields and in the cellar. Crops are thinned, harvested by hand and sorted by not one but two triage tables; whole-cluster vinification is natural and as gentle as possible.

The estate`s blend—a combination of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec—captures the nobility of the great St.-Emilion estates while expressing a lush, seductive quality found in the finest Pomerols.

A deliciously simply concept: the Rochet family owns about 70 Hectares more or less 120 m above sea level and they make just one wine: Chateau Malbat Rouge! Chateau Malbat is near the village of La Réole in the zone of Entre Deux Mers - literally "between two seas" which of course refers to the rivers Dordogne and Garonne. The area is vast, with an equally vast number of Chateaus. The trick is to find quality; particularly in reds, wines are extremely variable from Chateau to Chateau.

The Rochet family started several generations ago in 1870 and it is thanks to a relatively high position with calcarious and clay soils that the wines have their fruity, expressive quality rather than the often thinly tannic wines too often found in the greater area. With good healthy fruit, the main enological challenge is not to mess it up. Therefore winemaking is simple and the result is pure and balanced.

Daniel and Fabienne Rochet recently planted 3 hectares of Semillon – so who knows – perhaps we`ll see a sweet wine from them soon? And in the spirit of full disclosure, we did taste a new wine on our last visit, and this wine was given some aging in new barrique. A delicious experiment, but so far not offered for sale with only about 1000 bottles produced.

Château Miraval may now be more famous, in the US anyway, as the French home of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. But the domaine has been producing wines for decades and has recently been named by the Guide Hachette (France`s leading authority on French Wine) as "one of France`s top 500 wine producers". The estate, situated at an altitude of 350 meters, covers 400 Ha, with 30 Ha of vineyards. The winery was completely refurbished in 1993. The vineyards flourish on the valley floor, protected by the surrounding forest of evergreen and white oak, and parasol, aleppo and maritime pine. Vinification is geared to reduce to a minimum any oxidation of the grapes. Teams of local pickers pick the grapes into small containers to avoid any bruising or crushing. The grapes are then transferred to the cellar entrance and are placed on a sorting table where any rotten or green grapes and any leaves or other debris are removed by hand. After destemming and gentle pressing in the pneumatic press the grape juice is fed by gravity feed into thick concrete tanks which have been lined with epoxy. These tanks retain the sanitation of traditional stainless steel while delivering a more steady temperature. Total vineyard size is 30 hectares of certified organic vineyards in the adjoining communes of Correns and Chateauvert, covering the two appellations of Côtes de Provence and Côteaux Varois. The soil is a mixture of clay and chalk with small stones and the gently sloping vineyards extend along the basin of a sheltered wooded valley, where water flows in abundance and where recently excavated Roman stone drains carry the water away. The oldest vines on the property are Cinsaut. This particular strain of Cinsaut is one which gives the distinctive flavor and elegance to Miraval`s Rosé. Terre Blanche vineyard was created expressly to grow Rolle as the conditions of soil, gently sloping south-facing land, and exposure to the Mistral - the unpredictable wind from the Rhone valley - were all ideal for this white grape varietal. The remaining vineyards are divided between Syrah, Grenache Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenach Noir.

Henri and Martine Negrier are a young winemaking couple who sell much of their production to negociants, even though they work some of the best gravel-rich soil (most of which resembles Pauillac) in St.-Seurin de Cadourne.

The Negriers are serious winemakers who are very disciplined. They manage their vineyards to produce extremely low yields and harvest by hand—a painstaking practice that has been almost completely abandoned in Bordeaux.

The typical blend of Château Moulin de Blanchon is about 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Big, dark and concentrated, this Bordeaux is a plush, plummy pleasure year in and year out. If you`re a fan of Napa Cabernets, Château Moulin will delight.
 

Importer`s Notes:
You`ve heard it before—good things come to those who wait. That`s the special pleasure of Bandol from Château Pibarnon.  Without question the noble Mourvèdre from this peerless estate represents one of Provence`s most majestic and longest-lived wines.

A pure Mourvèdre wine that starts its vibrant youth in hues of the deepest purple, wrapped in juicy muscle and violet perfumes, Pibarnon Bandol of course can be enjoyed young.  But the true pleasure of Pibarnon Bandol is in discovering the perfect bottle five, 10 even 20 years down the road.

We know this well, as we`ve been working with this beautiful estate for more than 25 years, and have plenty of Pibarnon Bandol in our own cellars. The excellent winemaking of the Saint-Victor clan ensures that each supple, spicy and deliciously balanced bottle of Bandol Rouge evolves slowly in the cellar, taking on more complex aromas, more profound flavors, more seductive curves.

Harvest often takes two to five weeks as Pibarnon owns vineyards with many different exposures. This, combined with the domaine`s altitude, means that harvest is often completed one to two weeks later than at other Bandol estates.

Henri de Saint-Victor, descended from a prominent Paris family, discovered the potential of the Pibarnon site and planted it to Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Grenache. His son, Eric, has since taken his place and has continued the family`s focus on organic agriculture, even lower yields and a full modernization of the estate’s cellars.

Château Ponzac
Château Sainte Colombe

The wine is produced by Vignobles Perse that also owns the famous Château Pavie in Saint Emilion.  The average annual production for Sainte Colombe is 16,500 cases.

The Vineyard
The vineyard measure 40 hectares total (98.80 acres) and the average age of the vines is 37 years old. 
The Sainte Colombe plateau is the highest point in the Côtes de Castillon Appellation.
The vines enjoy good
quality clay-limestone soil, optimum southern-facing sun exposure, excellent natural drainage due to its position on a slope, healthy water regime thanks to a limestone substrate, and early ripening thanks to white clay soil which retains warmth remarkably well.  Green harvesting, with an initial leaf thinning on the eastern side of the vines in late June and a second in mid-August on the western side.

Hidden behind a row of 100-year-old oaks, Château Suau was once the hunting lodge of the Duc d`Epernon. It was restored in the 16th century and in 1687, during the reign of Louis XVI, the château was owned by the Suau family of Capian. Monique Bonnet purchased the Château in 1986. She lends her impeccable style and elegance to this Bordeaux estate that represents a great value in today`s French wine market.

Charles Duret
Charles Thomas

56 Ha grown organically since March 2009 (in conversion).
Part of the vineyard is plowed with horses.
4 varietals are produced: 29 Hectares (72 acres) of Syrah, 22 Hectares (54.5 acres) of Grenache, 3 Hectares (7.5 acres) of Mourvèdre and 2 Hectares (5 acres) of Carignan.
Mechanical harvest.
Yields: 48 hectoliters per Hectares.
Average age of the vines : 30 years old.

The vineyard is situated in an archeological site that has revealed many artifacts dating back from the 4th Century.

Cholila Ranch

Produced by one of the first four wineries in San Patricio del Chanar, Neuquen, Argentina Patagonia. Pioneered the wine styles that have made the region famous.  Located in one of the famous worlds` most remote wine regions, at 39 degrees South, ancient roads of dust and stone cross the arid landscape as testament of man`s ability to interact in harmony with nature. Argentina Malbec is made by a 100% Argentine winemaking team, led by legendary Argentine winemaker, Roberto de la Mota.


[In February 20, 1901, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, boarded the British ship Herminius and steamed off to build a new life for themselves in the "United States of the Southern Hemisphere". They settled in a sheep ranch at Cholila Ranch, in the deepest Argentine Patagonia, under the alias of James Ryan and Harry A. place, where they were considered respectable citizens. - Extract of "Digging Up Butch & Sundance, by Anne Meadows]

Chono

Chono is the cutting edge of Chilean winemaking—a micro-estate that produces world-class wines from some of the most unique terroirs in the country.  Led by two of South America`s leading winemakers and enologists, Alvaro Espinoza and Juan Carlos Faúndez, Chono too is the future of the Chilean wine industry, as producers move away their quantity-over-quality past to focus on Chile`s terroir strengths.

The heart of Chono is in the Maipo Valley, the starting point of Chilean viticulture in the late 18th century.  It is here where enterprising winemakers brought back vine cuttings from Bordeaux to plant in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, on alluvial soils not too different from those on the banks of the Dordogne.  Chono`s home base is the eastern side of the Maipo Valley called Isla de Maipo.  Here the soils are sandy; vineyards sit between 1,800 and 2,000 feet above sea level; and temperatures are warmer than in more coastal areas, moderated by the cooling winds from the Andes. Red grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, not to mention Chile`s signature grape, Carmenère, thrive here.

Winemaker Alvaro Espinoza was one of the first winemakers to identify Carmenère, a red grape previously thought to be (and grown as) Merlot. It is actually a pre-phylloxera grape that was once grown widely in Bordeaux, but today grows exclusively in Chile.

The winemaking team of Espinoza and Faúndez too is what makes Chono so exceptional.  Espinoza cut his wine teeth both in Chile and abroad, working for Chilean winery Carmen, Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux and Fetzer and Bonterra in California. During his time in California, Espinoza worked with biodynamic expert Alan York, who helped open Espinoza`s eyes not only to the possibilities of organic viticulture but also the ways such practices could be applied to Chile.  Faúndez, who also spent time at Carmen, teamed up with Alvaro early on, instructed and inspired by Alvaro`s father, a prominent enologist who instilled in both young winemakers a passion for hard work and for Chile`s undeniable potential.

In addition to wines from the Maipo Valley, Chono sources grapes from the Elqui Valley as well as the Rapel Valley.  Most vineyards are either farmed organically or are in transition to organic farming.

Chono is the name of an extinct Chilean tribe, a hardy group of ancient people who braved the rough conditions of the rugged islands that make up Chile`s southern tip.

The origin of the Ciacci Piccolomini d`Aragona estate dates back to the 17th century.  Located in southeastern Montalcino in the beautiful village of Castelnuovo del Abate, it has breathtaking views of the Orcia Vally and Mount Amiata.  The oldest part of the property is the Palazzo (meaning Palace), erected by Montalcino`s Bishop, Fabivs de` Vecchis, Abbot of Sant Antimo abbey. 
Over the course of time, the Palazzo became the property of the Montalcino diocese and was auctioned according to Italian law regarding ecclesiastic property.

In 1877, Francesco Ciacci, head of a Castelnuoveo-based family, purchased the property from the Church.  In the mid-1900s, the historical “Palazzo del Vescovo” became known as the Palazzo Ciacci Piccolomini d`Aragona after the marriage between count Alberto Piccolomini d`Aragona, a direct descendent of Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Pope Pius II), and Elda Ciacci.


Today, the Bianchini family owns the Estate.  Guiseppe Bianchini managed the farm for the Countess Ciacci Piccolomini.  He lived on the land with his family and oversaw the day-to-day operations of food and wine production.  His children were born on the Estate, and grew up in the vineyards and olive groves with their father.  Guiseppe was willed the property in 1985, when Countess passed without any heirs.  Prior to this, the farm made wines for personal and local consumption.  The Countess was never interested in making Brunello for the larger market.  However, it had always been a dream of Guiseppe to produce great Brunello.  After selling a portion of the Estate to pay for inheritance taxes, he set about farming the most perfectly situated plots of land for classic Brunello production.

Guiseppe passed in 2004.  His children, Paolo and Lucia, continue to farm the land with great care and incredible results.  Of the 200 hectares in Montalcino, 40 are planted to vine.  They farm organically, without the use of chemicals or pesticides.  Nestled at the base of Mount Amiata, the terroir is moderated by proximity to the volcano and the Orcia River.  This extends the growing season and, coupled with the well-drained, rocky soils, leads to wines of great finesse, balance, and longevity.  Like many of the great producers of Italy, Paolo and Lucia are modern in the vineyards, favoring low yields, using cover crops, and working the vines manually.  In the cellar, the Sangiovese-based wines are classically styled, employing large oak and cement with wonderful results.  The wines are quintessential expressions of place and the nobility of Sangiovese.

Since 1853, Azienda Agricola Ciavolich has cultivated fine grapes from vineyards located in Abruzzo in south-central Italy. The estate consists of 44 hectares stretching between Chieti and Pescara. The vineyards are located at an altitude varying between 80 – 400 meters above sea level with an average vine age of 25 years.

Within a category normally dedicated to large, industrial production, Ciavolich produces a mere 3500 cases of Ancilla, Montepulciano di Abruzzo and 400 cases of Pecorino from the very best fruit grown on their prime, coastal vineyards with the remaining fruit sold off. Entirely hand harvested, the wines of Ciavolich reflect the time honored, traditional wine making techniques of Montepulciano di Abruzzo.

Renato Cigliuti`s family has been farming vineyards and producing wines in Barbaresco since 1790. However, it wasn`t until 1964 that they began bottling and selling their own wines, just 300 bottles of Barbaresco. Renato was one of the first in the area to do so, together with Giacosa and a few other estates. Today, Renato steers the course for Cigliuti but is assisted in the cellar by his wife Dina, and daughters, Claudia and Silvia—a talented and a well-matched team.

The winery is located at the top of the Serraboella hill. Serraboella is an official Barbaresco subzone and the most important vineyard in the eastern part of the municipality of Neive, thanks largely to the progress made by Renato himself. For decades, Cigliuti`s name has been synonymous with expressive Barbarescos from Serraboella, of the utmost quality, and will continue to be for decades to come.

Clearwater Creek

From robust Côtes-du-Rhône to memorable Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Clos du Caillou wines arguably represent some of the finest red blends in all of France. Proprietor Sylvie Vacheron and winemaker Bruno Gaspard are keeping the great work of the late Jean-Denis Vacheron alive with wines that are heady, robust and mouth-wateringly lush.

Caillou tends wonderfully old Grenache vines, some of which are 70 to 100 years old. With older Syrah and Mourvèdre added to the mix, it`s no wonder that Caillou wines are across the board impressive for their power, extract and deep minerality. Caillou`s Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards border impressive plots at Chateau Rayas and Beaucastel.

Yet many of the Vacheron-Pouizin family`s old vines are classified, by a quirk of 1923 politics, Côtes-du-Rhône and Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages. It`s why our Côtes-du-Rhône barrel selections show surprisingly like its kin in Châteauneuf-du-Pape--as the terroir is, in both style and substance, the same as neighboring Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards.

Importer`s Notes:

Despite the almost three decades we’ve partnered with this outstanding family estate, it still dazzles us how perfectly each bottle of Mont-Olivet captures the true soul of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Clos du Mont-Olivet is “old school” Chateauneuf, a noble blend of the region`s 13 native grapes done elegantly, aromatically and above all harmoniously.  Winemaker Thierry Sabon is one in a long line of winemakers from the heart of the southern Rhone who has ably—not without a few upgrades of his own—carried the torch of the Sabon family domaine.

Lower yields, more dynamic blending and earlier bottling—all improvements that we support—means that these wines are fresher, more exciting and more alive than they ever have been.  While Sabon certainly respects the traditions set by his father and grandfather before him (we hope you have some older bottles of Mont-Olivet Châteauneuf in your cellars—each vintage, even from lesser years, is extraordinary), he has not shied away from taking a hard look at the family vineyards, to see how best to frame each extraordinary plot the Sabons have tended for generations. The result of such savvy is seriously impressive wines that have few peers in the southern Rhône or elsewhere.

Each vintage we team up with Thierry to select wines for our Châteauneuf “Cuvee Unique.”  Many years our special cuvée has a little bit of the family`s top, older-vine blend, “Cuvee du Papet,” added as well. “Papet” is named for Joseph Sabon, Sr., (papet means grandpa) and is a selection of the finest lots in the cellar, acknowledged by many to be one of the most age-worthy, fascinating wines produced in the appellation.

You don`t often see Côtes du Rhône wines dedicated to a single grape, which makes Thierry`s two exclusive cuvees especially unique. His “Serre de Catin” is a 100% Grenache wine, pure and fruity with a virtual injection of spice and southern French garrigue. “Varene” is his 100% Syrah that reminds us of a northern Rhône-styled Syrah in its aromatics and elegance, pumped up with a bit of southern Rhône juicy muscle.

Importer`s Notes:

Since the Middle Ages, there have been records about the lieu-dit “le Tue-Boeuf” and its excellent wines which were enjoyed by the local nobility and the kings of France. The family name Puzelatz is mentioned in 15th century documents.

History, though, is not the story here. It’s about two brothers, Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat, who tend their 10-hectare family estate in Les Montils (in the Cheverny AOC) and rent 6 hectares in a village nearby, in the Touraine AOC. The region, near the hunting grounds of Sologne, has always used a wide variety of grapes. Since the 60`s, the Puzelats` father had been making his own selections of vines to replant, and left them with vines of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Menu Pineau (or Arbois), Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Côt (or Malbec).

Jean-Marie, the older brother by 10 years, was joined on the estate by Thierry in the early 90`s and they began converting their vines to organic viticulture. When the Cheverny AOC was created with the 1993 vintage, some varietals became outlawed from the blends, and the brothers started a yearly struggle to get their wines accepted under their appellation. Now, when a wine is rejected, they sell it under a Vin de Pays or Vin de Table label; their customers know and trust their work and methods.

Clos Roche Blanche

Touraine, a Loire Valley appellation, designates a large viticultural area around the city of Tours. The vineyards of Clos Roche Blanche were planted on the Touraine hills bordering the Cher river by the Roussel family at the end of the 19th century and have remained in the family since. Catherine Roussel took over this 28-hectare estate in 1975 from her father, and was later joined by Didier Barrouillet, who tends the vineyards and makes the wine. Both are enthusiastic proponents of non-interventionist winemaking.

Their soil is poor, mainly clay with flint over a limestone subsoil. The varietals grown are Cabernet (Sauvignon and Franc), Gamay, Côt (or Auxerrois, the grape of Cahors) and Sauvignon Blanc. Roussel and Barrouillet keep yields low by maintaining old vines, using organic fertilizers in moderation and growing grass between and plowing under the rows.

They converted the vineyards to organic farming and, with the 1995 vintage, received the official “organic agriculture” accreditation. The vines are treated with copper and sulfur solutions, and plant decoctions (a mixture of nettles and other herbs) used in biodynamic viticulture.

The grapes are hand-harvested and the Sauvignon Blanc is macerated for 48 hours. The must is handled by gravity at all stages. The wine then ages on its lees, is bottled by gravity by hand without filtration to avoid mechanical manipulation that would unsettle it. Instead of using sulfur at bottling, the bottles are blanketed with CO2. Their Sauvignon Blanc, of incredible purity and fruit, is available at amazingly low prices. All the red wines have true varietal character, and the depth associated with low yields and optimum ripeness.

Neither Catherine or Didier has studied oenology or viticulture. They both learned their trade in the vineyards and the cellar, searching for methods and techniques to make wines of exceptional character in an appellation of modest reputation.

Clos Rougeard

Importer`s Notes:

Just our luck.

We have a cult estate. Every three-star restaurant in France hustles to get a small allocation. No one in America, outside of the lucky few, has heard of it.

This estate has been in the family for several generations. Basically, the Foucault brothers (Nadi and Charlie) tend exceptional vineyards, harvest at small yields, vinify in barrel, let the wines bubble for a couple of years in a glacially cold cellar and bottle without filtration.

And what you get is the some of the top red wines of the Loire Valley and in the very top of France as a whole. Charles Joguet, the great winemaker of Chinon, once said: “there are two suns. One shines outside for everybody. The second shines in the Foucaults` cellar.”

The rare Chenin Blanc from their vineyards (sometimes sec, sometines demi-sec or even moëlleux) has been described by Michel Bettane as “the quintessence of Chenin”. Bettane has tasted the 1921 and listed it as one of the most memorable wines of his life.

Cocchi

The Combier story began nearly 175 years ago at 48 Rue Beaurepaire in the picturesque village of Saumur, 200 miles southwest of Paris in the heart of France’s historic Loire Valley.

Jean-Baptiste Combier and his wife, local confectioners by trade and operators out of their own kitchen, shared the dream of inventing something new, something that had never before existed, something with just the right spice, just the right smell and just the right taste – a flavor that was truly an original.

Corinne Perchaud

Corinne Perchaud and her husband Jean-Pierre Grossot began working in the Domaine in 1980, but the estate was originally founded in 1920. They are the third generation of winemakers at this family estate, located in the village of Fleys, in the heart of the Chablis appellation. "A very good to excellent Chablis producer making some wines in tank and others in barrel; the former are outstanding" - Anthony Dias Blue`s pocket guide to wine 2006

The Vineyard
They farm 18 hectares (44.5 acres) of vines: 13 A.O.C. Chablis and 5 hectares Premier Cru. The wines are only tank fermented, except the Fourneaux that gets 25% barrel fermented wine added into the final blend. The owners take great care to produce exceptional Chablis wine by keeping the lively Chardonnay fruit and the unique mineral quality imparted by the Kimmeridgian soil, the fruity acidity and bouquet in perfect balance. The grapes are harvested by hand and gently pressed in a horizontal pressoir to ensure the fullest extraction and range of flavors and aromas.

The Wines 
The wines display perfect Chablis like character of oyster shells, mineral and M-L fermentation in the nose.  They have rich components in the mid-palate, with a long lingering flavor core. Thrilling wines.

Cortenova

Part of the production is from their own lands which mainly lie on the alluvial rich soil at the confines of the Veneto and Friuli, the other is furnished by growers who have worked with the family for years and is basically an extension of their own vineyards.  The winery produces several lines of different quality levels using Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, Valpolicella, Prosecco, Soave and Bardolino. They have also expanded their production to include wines from Apulia, Calabria, Sicily to offer their clients a complete range of wines. The family has expanded into the foreign markets slowly making sure that they could handle production requests and maintain quality levels before proceeding on to the next market. This cautiousness has earned them the reputation of being reliable and quality-oriented.

Domaine de Coussergues, an ancient Baronnie founded in 1495 by a land grant from Charles VIII, is owned by the Baron Arnould de Bertier and his family. Arnould represents the fifteenth generation of the Sarret de Coussergues family to run the estate.  The winery is situated approximately 10 km east of Beziers, at Montblanc en Languedoc in the foothills overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The domaine produces Cotes de Thongue and Pays d`Oc wines.  About 50% of their production is sold in bulk with 80% of their wine sold to export. Domaine de Coussergues has been a reliable producer of good value white wine over the years.

The proud Baron has 620 hectares of land (1,531 acres), 210 hectares in grapes and the rest in woodland and olive trees. Soil in the area is chalk, clay, flinty red clay and volcanic in nature.

Cueva de las Manos

Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the hands) is a pre-historic site in southern Patagonia featuring a very early form of human art.  The cave, a UNESCO world heritage site, derives its name from the paintings of hands made by the indigenous inhabitants between 9,300 and 13,000 years ago.  The images of hands are often negative (stencilled) and painted in colors ranging from red to white, black or yellow.
These wines are a tribute to the legend and legacy of the ancient Patagonian indigenous groups; a history of independence and perseverance.

Cueva de las Manos is produced at a state-of-the-art winery, built with the purpose of achieving outstanding quality. The estate spreads over 300 ha (741 acres) in Agrelo and Lujàn de Cuyo, 34 km south of the city of Mendoza, at 950 meters above sea level.  The winemaking process is focused on treating the grapes with great care and with strict control of every stage.
People at the winery believe the Andean vision encompasses a deep understanding of this unique region, that shares thousands of miles of a common landscape, one culture and a special relationship with nature, creating the context for a common identity of Argentinean viticulture.

The vineyard consists of 80 hectares (197.6 acres) total planted to 32 ha of Cabernet Sauvignon, 18.5 ha of Malbec and the rest split between Sauvignon Blanc, Bonarda, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Tannat, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Deep and textured soils facilitate plant development, and confer great body and structure to the wines. A drip irrigation system has been set up to allow a precise control of the vegetative cycle and a rationed use of water. 

D'Oliveira

Importer`s Notes:

D`Oliveira is one of the greatest of the classic Madeira shippers, and one of the few to survive from the pre-phylloxera era. Founded in 1820, and today housed in cellars that date from 1619, this small jewel of a company is still owned by the same family, its vineyard holdings built up over time through a series of marriages with other wine-producing families.

But what is really extraordinary is that D`Oliveira has held on to many of its most famous vintages, creating a unique, and irreplaceable, stock of old wines. And remarkably they are all D`Oliveira wines, not purchased from other shippers or growers.

Thus, whether an 1862 Sercial or a 1922 Bual, all were produced by the D`Oliveiras and their ancestors, and generally from their own vineyards in São Martinho, one of the great viticultural sites in Madeira, lying just to the west of Funchal along the island`s south coast.

Immensely Powerful Wines. Over the years, it has been our privilege to take part in several comprehensive tastings of D`Oliveira vintages. There is a definite “house style” to these wines. They have very powerful aromatics, great lushness and viscosity, incredible structure, and a tangy character that is essential to the finest wines of the 18th and 19th centuries.

No wonder others in the Madeira trade consider these to be such supreme examples of classic Madeira. In fact, during the 1970`s and 1980`s, when the Madeira Wine Co. (Blandy`s, Cossart, etc.) was beginning to run low on old vintages to sell, it was to D`Oliveira that they turned.

Like Barbeito, D`Oliveira believes that Madeiras age best in cask. Consequently, all of its vintages are kept in wood, and only enough is bottled to meet short-term needs.

From its perch at the top of the world, Dama del Rovere sets itself apart from the Soave masses with its strict yields, vineyards at dizzying altitudes and tangy, nervous white wines that defy appellation standards.

The Pra family owns and works in one of the highest cellars in the entire Veneto, some 1,500 feet above sea level.  At this altitude it`s both easy to see how heads-and-tails this family is above the wider sea of mediocre Soave in the Veneto.  Winemaker Massimo Pra with both conviction and passion has raised the standards of Soave to levels never before seen, with strict green harvests in the fields and an artisan touch in the cellar, crafting Garganega and Durello wines of great concentration and character.

The difference that Dama del Rovere brings to Soave is palatable.  The family`s vineyards are some of the best exposed in the area; blown fresh and clean by mountain breezes, fruit is both healthy and ripens slowly.  A special pruning method employed by Massimo Pra ensures that the family`s yields fall below the “official” numbers often by a factor of four—levels most other regional winemakers would consider suicide.  The area`s basalt rock is both rich in minerals and tough, so grapes have to work hard for nutrients, pushing even more character into every berry and preserving good minerality as well.

The family`s Durello Brut wines are special.  An ancient grape native to the Veneto, Durello is cultivated by less than half a dozen winemaking families today. Every vintage we visit with the Pra family to select from their cellars the finest wines for our own bottlings.

Damien Coquelet

Importer`s Notes:

Damien Coquelet is the youngest vigneron we work with (he bottled his first vintage-2007-at just 20 years old), and his wines have already reached striking levels of maturity and complexity.

Damien is Georges Descombes` step-son, and has worked alongside his step-father since early childhood. Learning everything from Descombes-both in the vines and in their now shared cellar-has instilled the same values in Damien`s work ethic: organic viticulture, hand harvesting, native yeasts, zero intervention in the cellar and little if any sulfuring at bottling.

Two major differences distinguish Coquelet`s wines from Descombes`. Damien, who cannot yet afford his own vines, currently rents various parcels in Morgon and Chiroubles, all of which are in their third year conversion to organic viticulture (he plans on purchasing vines in the future). Furthermore, he bottles quite early (the 2010`s were available in January), unlike Descombes who ages his wines a year before releasing them.

We are thrilled to be working with such a young, energetic and talented producer, and only expect great things from Damien in the future!

Importer`s Notes:
 
“I have said this many times but it`s worth repeating: Daniel Barraud is without question one of the finest growers in all of the Mâconnais and there is a credible argument to be made that his remarkable consistency vaults him right to the very top of the list. Yes, there are other fine growers who sometimes make wines equal to those of Barraud but this man almost never misses.”—Burghound

A family that never misses.  Of all the producers in the Mâconnais, we can count on one hand the region`s most reliable artisans, the winemakers who are truest to their terroir.  Domaine Barraud is one estate that is at the top of our list.

Winemaker Daniel Barraud (and now his son Julien, who works side by side with his father) is the source of not only some of Vergisson`s finest wines but also some of its most extraordinary values.  From the family`s Mâcon-Vergisson “La Roche” to the finest of Pouilly-Fuisse, the nobility of the region`s terroir, the purity of white Burgundy at its finest, and the undeniable pleasure you experience when enjoying wine made with both heart and soul—all this is present in Barraud white Burgundy.

When we first started importing wines from Barraud almost two decades ago, we were content to make our own selections from the family`s tiny cellar.  Today Barraud needs no extra guidance—the quality here is guaranteed.  Barraud is truly a micro-estate; wines are made in very small quantities (you can count the number of barrels of each cru on one hand) and always by hand.

René-Jean Dard and François Ribo started their estate in 1984, in a back street of Tain-l`Hermitage. There was about 1HA from Dard`s family, all the rest was rented or slowly acquired over the years.

Born in the towns that face each other across the Rhône River, Tournon in the Ardèche and Tain-l`Hermitage in the Drôme, Dard and Ribo met in wine school in Beaune in their late teens. They work 7.5HA of vines scattered over 7 villages, with most of their holdings in Crozes-Hermitage, some in St-Joseph and a slice of Hermitage.

In their cellar, part of a large farm building in the hamlet of Blanche-Laine in Mercurol, they craft subtle, unextracted Syrah for immediate enjoyment, and several whites from Roussanne and Marsanne. “What we like is natural wine because it`s alive, wine that does not necessarily have to be kept – just drunk and drunk again.” (François Ribo, quoted in John Livingstone-Learmonth`s The Wines of the Northern Rhône, p.382)

What is different with them is that they view Syrah as a grape giving elegant and pleasant wines, rather than sturdy, big, tannic wines. They want their wines to taste well quickly, not after years of cellaring to dissipate hard tannins. They even make a cuvée called “C`est le Printemps” that is released in the spring following the harvest, almost like a nouveau of Syrah. They tend to vinify by plot, because they have such a wide varieties of terroir and vine ages.

Descendientes de José Palacios

Importer`s Notes:

During the late 1980`s, Alvaro Palacios travelled his native Spain selling French barriques to winemakers. But his journeys had a second purpose: to find the best place to achieve his goal of making Spain`s greatest wine.

He ultimately decided, in 1990, on Priorat, where he would achieve worldwide fame with “L`Ermita” and “Finca Dofi.” But there had been a close contender: Bierzo. It had all the ingredients that Alvaro wanted—incredibly steep hillside vineyards, distinctive terroirs and, most importantly, ancient vineyards of Mencía—a unique red grape believed brought by French pilgrims during the Middle Ages.

In Pursuit of the Dream. The idea of making great wine from old-vine Mencía never left Alvaro, and his experience in Priorat—particularly with L`Ermita—convinced him of Bierzo`s enormous potential. Meanwhile, his nephew Ricardo Perez had finished enological studies in Bordeaux and was travelling across France—absorbing everything he could about great wines. He worked the harvest at Château Margaux, and did internships at other Bordelais firms like Moueix (Pétrus, Trotanoy, etc.). He also visited Alvaro frequently and came to share a belief in Bierzo`s potential. In 1998, the two decided on a joint venture and set out in search of the region`s finest old vineyards.

Assembling the Pieces. Alvaro and Ricardo found promising sites in a number of villages but shortly came to believe that the greatest potential lay in a little town on Bierzo`s western border named Corullón. Old vineyards lined the precipitous hillsides there, and the local soils were extremely poor—composed mostly of schist—but with incredible diversity. The minute variations in soils and exposures across this zone immediately reminded the two of Burgundy`s Côte d`Or, or Piedmont`s Langhe hills. In Corullón, Alvaro and Ricardo believe they have found a unique combination of soils, old vines, and a distinctive variety that will yield their own grands crus. Beginning with 2001, the estate began to make their case with individual vineyard bottlings.

The winery is dedicated to Alvaro`s father, and Ricardo`s grandfather, who passed away in early 2000. The wines are a worthy tribute to the man who inspired them.

Up to seven wines are made. The first, Pétalos del Bierzo, is assembled from old hillside and hilltop vines from across Bierzo`s western edge. The wine is vinified for immediate appeal, but it retains the estate`s signature finesse and restraint.

Corullón is an assemblage from old-vine parcels in and around this town. Its combination of generosity and precision makes a case not only for Corullón`s special status, but also the superiority of Alvaro`s and Ricardo`s winemaking.

The estate also produces up to four extraordinary single-vineyard wines: San Martin, Moncerbal, Las Lamas and La Faraona. Each is a distinctive expression of a remarkable and compelling terroir.

Importer`s Notes:

In Côte d`Or parlance, Claude Maréchal is a flatlander. That means that he is from the plain, rich in grains and produce, that extends from the river Saône to the ridge of hills (the actual Côte d`Or that gave its name to its department) where the prestigious Burgundy vineyards are planted. Claude Maréchal is a gifted and thoughtful winemaker in his early forties who, having befriended Henri Jayer (a fellow "flatlander" who many years ago settled in Vosne-Romanée), tries to follow in his mentor`s footsteps, through informal consultation with him.

Maréchal`s father was a cereal farmer with a few vineyard holdings in Bligny-les-Beaune, a sleepy village east of the city of Beaune, in the plain, where Maréchal still resides and makes his wines. Claude developed a passion for vineyard work and winemaking early on, and pieced together a sizeable estate by renting vineyards all over the Côte de Beaune.

His principles in the vineyards are straightforward: the vineyards are plowed, no herbicides are used, treatments are kept to a minimum and the pruning is severe to keep yields low. Vinification is done in open wooden vats, all grapes are totally destemmed, and fermentation is not induced by adding yeast, so it can take a few days to start (the "natural" cold pre-maceration common in Vosne-Romanée). New wood barrels are added every year, but their proportion stays low, because Maréchal doesn`t look to make over-oaked wines: he`d rather have each vineyard express its own individual character, and make wines where fruit dominates.

Maréchal`s aims to make "vins de plaisir", wines that offer a pleasurable experience for everyone, and in several Parisian wine bars, where the staples are Rhône, Loire and Beaujolais crus wines, his Burgundies fit right in.

 

The AOC Jasnières and Coteaux-du-Loir were, until very recently, languishing; the vines had been all but wiped-out by the intense frost of 1956, and only a handful of tenacious owners held on to their vines, usually keeping the wine they made for their personal consumption, while making a living thanks to other agricultural revenues.

Located about 30 miles north of the city of Tours, these small vineyards (37 and 48 hectares re-spectively) are isolated, at the edges of three provinces, Maine, Anjou and Touraine. They are also the most northern viticultural areas in the west of France (in the east, only Chablis, Champagne and Alsace are further north). Fortunately, the river Loir replicates some of the micro-climactic conditions of its big sister, the Loire (watch your French: le Loir, along with la Sarthe and la Mayenne, form le Maine, a tributary of la Loire which it joins in Angers).

In the 1970s, the winemaker Joël Gigou pionneered a renewal of Jasnières and Coteaux-du-Loir as viticultural areas. Eric Nicolas, who is a city kid without any roots in either the region or in agriculture, developed a passion for vines and wines, and after studying oenology, he looked in the Loire to acquire vineyards, mainly because he had met several passionate winemakers there.

Seven years ago, Eric and his wife Christine found an estate with some vines, but mostly grazing fields, trees and grains. They nurtured the existing old vines and did a lot of planting, to get to their current 9 hectares, scattered over the territory of 6 villages (hence the name of their cuvée of Coteaux-du-Loir Vieilles Vignes Éparses or Scattered Old Vines). They now use sélection massale (cuttings from old vines) rather than clones, and plant at a density of 9,300 vines per hectare. They also planted an experimental plot where the density is 40,000 vines per hectare, to observe the development of the root system and the influence of terroir on botrytized grapes (one grape per vine). 

 

Producer`s Notes:

- Clay with flint on tuffeau (limestone). Variation on clays and on the granulation of broken flint, sometimes sand.
6 parcels located in 3 parishes.

- The vines, including old vines, are cultivated by ploughing, harrowing etc. Progressively, parcel by parcel, this fundamental work has enabled us to build a natural resistance that we are continually improving. We chose 2008 to be the year we converted the whole estate to Biodynamic agriculture.

- Natural fermentation in 1-3 year old barrels with a small proportion (1/4) of new oak. Ageing one year minimum in barrel. The terroirs are separated and barrels are assembled before bottling to produce the cuvée.

- The final balance is the work of nature.

The domaine is located in the hamlet of Le Landreau in Sèvre et Maine, Muscadet`s best region of production. The family has been producing wine there for 5 generations, but current owner Guy Bossard defies the prevailing view that organic producers can`t make great wine. The estate became organic in 1975, and biodynamic in 1986. Guy Bossard makes his own compost using algae, forest brush and basalt. He produces 3 different cuvees, each masterfully crafted to highlight the expression of the specific soil types.
The Hermine d`Or designation is given to specially selected Cuvées of Muscadet, (tasted blind) that score highly. Hermine d`Or wines are picked for: 
1. Typicity - Trueness to type (no oak here).
2. Ageability - The ability to improve in the bottle.
3. Minerality - Classic feature of wines of this region.
This insignia, Hermine d`Or, is as near a guarantee of quality as can be found in the region.

Matt Kramer, the Wine Spectator - My Wines of the Year - 
"Ah, my beloved Muscadet always pops up on this list, as I like to buy`em and age`em for upward of a decade. Guy Bossard, the owner-winemaker of Domaine de l`Ecu, is obsessed with Muscadet. His vines and winemaking are fully biodynamic. If Burgundy`s Domaine Leroy made Muscadet, it would be Domaine de l`Ecu. In the classic 2002 vintage, Bossard offered multiple bottlings based on soil types. His Expression de Granit is all about intense minerality; Expression d`Orthogneiss is spicier, richer and denser. Both need 10 years of age. The prices are absurdly low."

"The gifted, highly regarded Guy Bossard produces serious Muscadets, built to age; fully biodynamic since 1986." - Anthony Dias Blue`s pocket guide to wine 2006

Xavier Courant is a young man who came to making wine through the backdoor. He was a caviste, or wine store owner, who fell so hard he stopped to study winemaking.

He was fortunate enough to find in the St.-Patrice area of Bourgueil 7 hectares of vines that belonged to Christophe Chasle, a very well respected vigneron, who was retiring and selling off all his vineyards. Xavier has begun converting entirely to organic practices.

2009 is Xavier`s first vintage with these wines, which he has named after films of Bertrand Blier, the iconic french director, as an hommage.

Domaine de la Condemine

Pierre and Véronique Janny bought the estate in 1982 and work now with their daughter Céline. They are located in the village of Peronne, 20 kilometres North of Mâcon.

This is a 6-hectare (14.8 acres) vineyard planted with Chardonnay (5.5 ha), Gamay and Pinot Noir (0.5 ha). The oldest vines are 100 year old.

This is arguably the top estate in our Portfolio. Domaine de la Mordorée (woodcock), located in the  town of Tavel, in the Southern Rhône Valley, is the most consistent producer of top quality wine in my entire selection. In 1986, the brothers Christophe and Fabrice Delorme decided to dedicate themselves to their passion for wine. They started their own estate with the objective to produce the best wines in each appellation while preserving the environment.


"Christophe Delorme`s objective as a winemaker is to be unintrusive and maintain total respect for his terroir and the fruit it produces. His dream is to achieve a perfect balance between concentration, terroir and flavors. Delorme seems to be moving in the direction of biodynamic farming. He represents the best of an enlightened approach to winemaking that has one foot in the traditions of the past and one in the future."
- Robert Parker

"The main estate at Tavel; the proprietors also own land at Lirac and Châteauneuf; big, heady wines through white, rosé, and red; the modern, oaked style packs a punch." 

- Anthony Dias Blue`s pocket guide to wine 2006

When Marc Ollivier is on, these are the top wines of the AOC - wines that are not only delicious young, but that can also age 10, 20 or 30 years.

Ollivier`s Muscadet-sur-Lie is the authentic item — it has lees contact until the time of bottling, generally in late May. This extended contact gives it the crispness that makes Muscadet so refreshing, and the classic wine match for seafood. It is the traditional way to make Muscadet, but has become the exception as growers and shippers rush to bottle “technically correct” wines by early January.

In this rush to bottle, Muscadet producers use special “starter” yeasts (which often also add flavors and aromas) to accelerate fermentation and enzymes or other techniques to finish the wine early. Sterile filtration is in rampant use.

Ollivier takes his time. He hand harvests (also a rarity in the region), uses natural yeasts, waits for the wine to finish and bottles with a very light filtration. The vineyards are in old vines (40 years and older) with a particularly good exposition on a plateau overlooking the river Sèvre. All the vineyards are from original stock: Ollivier is the only grower in the Muscadet who does not have a single clonal selection in his vineyards.

Ollivier also produces a very-old-vine cuvée of Muscadet from a single-plot vineyard in schist, the Clos des Briords. These are among the oldest vines in his estate (they were planted in 1930) and they enjoy a particularly good exposition. Also, when most of his estate`s vines are planted on poor, shallow soil with hard granite very close to the surface, the Clos des Briords has a much deeper top soil of clay and silica over a brittle granite subsoil: this ensures excellent drainage in wet years, and better moisture retention in dry summers. Ripening is slower, and the longer hang-time before harvest allows for optimal maturity to be reached.

The vinification techniques are traditional for the area: no skin maceration but direct pressing within 2 hours of picking, racking of the must after 12 hours to remove the solid matter, and controlled temperatures, not to exceed 71.6 degrees F, for the fermentation. The aging of the wine, on its lees in stainless steel vats, lasts until bottling, about eight months later.

Domaine Pousse d`Or is undoubtedly the most famous winery in Volnay, given its impressive history and current status in the world of Burgundy.

In 1855, the domaine was part of a larger domaine that included such names as Romanée-Conti and Clos de Tart. Originally called La Bousse d`Or (Bousse, in old French, means earth; thus, “golden earth”), the domaine changed hands a number of times until it fell into the hands of Gérard Potel. It was Potel that put the domaine`s wines on the map, with the style that it is known for today.

In 1997 Patrick Landanger purchased Pousse d`Or. The domaine already had a fabulous history and an excellent reputation. All anyone could ever hope for would be an enlightened owner, someone who would respect the domaine and then with all the means necessary, seek to improve upon greatness. That is exactly what Landanger did.

He hired a new vineyard manager and a new consulting enologist.  Dedicated to even richer, more intense wines than past vintages, Landanger then took the radical decision to make a delayed debut with the 1999 vintage. This meant passing over the very good 1997s and 1998s, and still being stocked, and absorbing those costs. For that, Landanger deserves a lot of credit.

When vines begin to sprout the French say, "Ça pousse."  Pousse d`Or has been blossoming for more than a century, and with every vintage, we`re floored at the level of quality.

Diligent green harvesting and vineyard selection at harvest leads to very small average yields. Mechanical sorting precedes manual sorting where vineyard workers examine the grapes bunch by bunch, berry by berry. All the wines we import from the domaine are unfined and unfiltered.

Pousse d`Or has three premier cru monopoles, or estate-owned and bottled vineyards in Volnay: Volnay "Clos de la Bousse d`Or," Volnay "Clos des Soixante-Ouvrées," and "Clos l`Audignac." The domaine also makes a fine Santenay, a premier cru Pommard "Les Jarollieres," and two remarkable grand cru Cortons.

The Estate
The Domaine de Montille was established in Volnay in the mid-18th century. It currently farms 20 hectares of primarily Premier and Grand Cru vineyards in the Côtes de Beaune and Nuits. Since 2002, Alix and Etienne de Montille manage the estate and the winemaking, bringing their individual contributions while staying true to the vision of their father, Hubert de Montille.

Vineyard management
Domaine de Montille has never used herbicides and abandoned chemical fertilisers in 1985 when it began using compost. The domaine transitioned to organics in 1995 then to biodynamics in 2005 and will be Ecocert Bio certified in 2012.

The wines, the style
Domaine de Montille is known to craft wines with great aromatique purity, always favoring balance and elegance over power and extraction. The wines are classic expressions of Burgundy, produced in the most natural way possible and possessing an impressive ability to age, as the family believes only time can reveal the true potential of the greatest wines. The Domaine`s current style remains faithful to Hubert`s natural and idealistic approach, which demanded considerable patience while waiting for appropriate drinking windows for certain vintages. Etienne, however, has taken up the task to bring greater aromatic expression and silkier and more unctuous textures to the reds, allowing them to drink earlier, without compromising their ability to age. The Domaine is known in Bugundy, among others such as Arlot, DRC, Dujac and Leroy, to regularly vinify using a significant proportion of whole clusters, varying by cuvée and by vintage.

What could be, for a white wine vinification, the best way to echo the Domaine`s reputation for elegance and balance, which was built solely on reds wines until 1993? Though the vinification methods are certainly different for whites, the objectives remain the same: transparence and aromatic purity, energy and complexity.

Winemaking
Harvesting is performed entirely by hand. With the use of pneumatic presses, press cycles can be modified depending on the quality of the grapes, using a very gradual increase in pressure for each low-pressure cycle and limiting the intermingling of musts between cycles. After a brief settling, the must is placed in barrels where alcoholic fermentation occurs. Five to ten percent of new barrels are used, and Etienne and Alix prefer Allier wood that has undergone a long and light toasting. This provenance and type of charring best suits the crafting of fine white wines. The second, malolactic fermentation usually occurs during the spring following the harvest. The first racking takes place at the end of this second fermentation. This marks the end of the barrel aging and begins a second phase of aging, carried out entirely in stainless steel. This phase of aging wine together in larger volumes in stainless steel or enamel tanks helps revitalize and integrate the wine. A rest of three to four (or more) months in tank brings freshness and structure to the wine, giving it a ?center?, as though giving it a spinal column. All the whites finish their pre-bottling stage in this manner and receive, at the end, a light fining followed by a similarly respectful filtration before being bottled. This cycle for white wine making lasts, depending on the cuvée, between 11 and 13 months.

The Nidolères estate at Tresserre has been a family vineyard for eight generations.

vendimia

Situated in the south of France near the Spanish border on the quaternary clay, stony and sandy terraces of the Aspres in front of the Albères, a Pyrenees foothill.

The property overhangs the Tech River. The wine farm stretches over 50 consecutive hectares around the buildings; 25 hectares are classified AOC.

Domaine de Noire owner Jean-Max Manceau is a man about the Loire Valley—not only is he president of the Chinon AOC, but he also sits at the head of a commission that aims to keep the practices of Loire growers and winemakers true to the region`s traditions.

Manceau and his wife Odile care for just over 20 acres of vineyards in Chinon, a region that sits at the crossroads of the Loire and Vienne rivers. It`s hard not to be infected by their combined enthusiasm for Cabernet Franc—these are very dedicated artisans (albeit hobbyists—Manceau runs a larger property as his “job”) who seek above all to capture the purest expression of this native varietal.

The domaine draws its name from a legendary neighboring vineyard, “Clos de Noire.” This high-altitude plot is renowned in the Loire for its alabaster soils, rich in minerals and chalk. It`s the same sort of porous rock one can find in Champagne, and more immediately, in the walls and towers of the Loire`s breathtaking chateaus.

Manceau`s Cabernet Franc vines, on average 60 to 70 years old, share similar soils as “Clos de Noire.” This great terroir, a combination of gravel and chalk, is ideal for Cabernet Franc. Manceau`s “Cuvée Elegance,” a 100% Cabernet Franc wine, is both full-bodied and fresh, with characteristic notes of violets and flint in the nose. Manceau also crafts a rare, 100% Cabernet Franc rosé, vinified completely in tank.

In 2004, France`s most respected critic, Michel Bettane, got together with Spain`s legendary journalist, Jose Penin, to taste the two countries` thirty-one best wines blind.

Tastings like this often contain a shocker; this time it was that an obscure wine from Ribera del Duero made by a little-known French winemaker—tied 1994 Vega Sicilia for Bettane`s top red wine, edging out 2000 Chateau Latour.

The upstart was 2002 Dominio de Atauta “Llanos del Almendro,” made by the then 25-year-old Bertrand Sourdais, a native of Chinon in the Loire Valley. The Atauta post was Bertrand`s first as winemaker, having worked as an understudy at Mouton-Rothschild, Santa Rita in Chile, and for Alvaro Palacios in Priorat.

Trained at the University of Bordeaux, Bertrand had been drawn to Atauta by its ancient, ungrafted vines of unique local Tempranillo clones. In developing the estate from scratch, Bertrand was forced to think critically about each aspect of the wine`s creation, and the results of his efforts have been a string of utterly profound and critically acclaimed wines.

The Return. While achieving stardom in Spain, Bertrand remained passionate for his native Chinon, and for its emblematic variety, Cabernet Franc. And so it was inevitable that he would someday apply his gifts at his family`s estate, Domaine de Pallus, in the appellation`s heart in Cravant-les-Côteaux.

In the early 2000`s, with his father`s retirement nearing, Bertrand took up the challenge of creating something great at Pallus. At Atauta, he had learned to question orthodoxy, and at Pallus he believed he could chart a new course. His goal, ultimately, was to honor Chinon`s soil and its ancient traditions. But he knew that to do so, he would need to correct both the flaws that persisted in the region`s traditional methods, while avoiding the mistakes typically made by modernists.

The Start. Bertrand began his quest in the summer of 2003. From the start, he has worked in the vineyards to create harmony and balance. As at Atauta, he is working tirelessly to find the potential of each vine. And while biodynamics are an important tool for many Loire Valley growers, they are merely a starting point for Bertrand to set his vineyards on the right path.

Of course, he has completely rethought the winemaking process. He is employing an extended maceration—up to an astonishing thirty days—to capture the "true" personality of Chinon. Elévage is similarly long and gentle—primarily in second passage barrels from elite Bordeaux estates. The wines are handled less, and bottled later, than almost any others in Chinon.

Founded in 1970, Domaine de Régusse is located in the town of Pierrevert, in the area of Haute Provence, at the beginning of the Luberon mountain (80 km from Marseille). The estate spreads over 300 hectares (741 acres), at an altitude of 450-500 meters.

The vineyard covers
260 hectares (642.2 acres), planted to 20 different grape varieties which allows a wide range of products.  In 2004, the estate obtained the certification "Viticulture Raisonnee Controlee", which aims to:
- improve the quality of the wines by improving the quality of the grapes, 
- guarantee quality products and food safety to the consumer,
- respect the environment, the terroir, the heritage and the traditions.
The soil is made of clay and limestone.

Vinification: Traditional vinification with cold maceration, temperature controlled fermentation in tanks, then maceration for 20 days.

Domaine de Souch

In the early 70`s, Yvonne Hegoburu and her husband René found a pile of rocks, the ruins of an old house, at the top of the hill in the village of Laroin, about 6 km towards the Pyrénées from their home in Pau, southwest France. They both fell in love with the spot. He was a former, dashing Jai Alai champion, currently editor of the local sports newspaper, L`Equipe. After years of rebuilding this manse and enjoying life in this beautiful hillside retreat with his wife and child, he died. They had always both dreamed of planting a vineyard on their 40 acres inside the demarcated zone for the unique Jurançon wines, but they never got around to it.

By this time in 1987, Yvonne was 60 years old. Determined to complete their dream and to honor her husband, she went ahead and planted those vines - eventually, 6.5 hectares of them. Her first wine in 1990 won a gold medal in Paris which only encouraged her “folly” more. Through her friendship with Pascal Delbeck, then vineyard manager of Château Belair in St. Emilion, she came to an understanding of biodynamie. She saw that fruits and vegetables farmed using these methods and the vineyards tended with biodynamic practices produced fruit that was healthy and even more delicious than those grown conventionally. In 1994, she embraced the philosophy for her own estate and has continued it to this day.

The estate really resembles a large garden of vines that cascade or are trellised down a hillside at 300 meters, the Pyrénées Mountains in the near distance. The vines are carefully tended without the use of pesticides or herbicides and traditional plowing. The trellising system is unusual for the region – double guyot – instead of the usual stake training and the pruning is very short aiming for 25-30hl/ha yields. The soil is what is called “poudingues” de Jurançon, a heavy, gravelly clay that has calcareous components. Her vineyard is separated by woods and large expanses from any other vineyards so there is litlle risk of contamination from other grower`s treatments. She planted in 70% Petit Manseng, 20% Gros Manseng and 10% Courbu -- grapes famous for their acidity and ability to produce sweet wines that age.

Jurançon is an old appellation and one of the first to be classified. It has an important, legendary place in the history of France, since, as it is generally related, the lips of Henry IV of Navarre, one of the boldest Kings of France, were rubbed with Jurançon wine at his baptism , the result of which was, of course, his courage and charisma. The 20th century writer Colette added to the wine`s cachet by touting its excellence.

But Yvonne, while appreciating the history, is very much a person of the here and now. She has completely charmed the rest of the French wine world, and can consider among her many friends, some of the finest winemakers and personalities in wine. Didier Dagueneau was especially fond of her and assisted her with some of her work. His sudden death in 2008 is still a grave loss of a good friend. Not so long ago, she also had a moment of celebrity as one of the sage and more memorable winemakers in Jonathan Nossiter`s film, Mondovino. She even attended the premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on the director`s arm where she walked the red carpet. “I planted vines when my husband died,” she said in the film, "Ever since then, all this love inside me, I give to the vines. I talk to them. I have an exchange with them. I ask them to drive their roots deep down into the soil to get the best from the land.”

All the harvesting is done by hand in successive passes through the vineyards. The pressing is done in a pneumatic press.

Yvonne is now in her 80`s and in terrific form. We look forward to a lot more great vintages from her. She just got a beautiful new 3 month old Great Pyrenees puppy. She also has a cat that`s 22 years old! Perhaps there is something in these Jurançon wines.

Michèle de Jessey is a formidable character in the appellation of Savennières. Her great-great-grandfather was the Chamberlain and Chief Memorialist to the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. She inherited the estate in 1961 when her aunt, Madame du Closel, the former proprietor/winemaker, searched for a successor throughout her extensive family. Madame de Jessey was chosen for her love and respect for the wine, vineyards and traditions of Savennières: a love that is evident in her wines. She went on to become much respected for her technical expertise and served as the first woman in France to be President of an Appellation Contrôlée. Her daughter, Evelyne, took over the estate in 2001, and following in her mother`s footsteps, is the current President of the Savennières AOC.

The estate -- historically the Château des Vaults and its lands -- consists of 12 hectares of Chenin Blanc vines, 4 hectares of which are in the Clos du Papillon. The soil is shallow sandy topsoil on a deep bed of schist and volcanic rock. The vines are rigorously pruned to produce 4 to 6 buds on two canes. This keeps the yields low, from 20 to 40 hl/ha in any given vintage. The microclimate is defined by the protecting hillsides, and the best hilltop vineyards are exposed to high winds that keep the grapes cool and free of rot. The grapes are picked by hand under selection, or tri, and the vinification is slow under controlled temperatures. There is no doubt that, given the microclimate, soil and fruit produced, Savennières is overall the finest and most unique expression of Chenin Blanc sec in the world.

The Savennières les Caillardières (formerly known as Cuvée Spéciale) is Madame de Jessey`s creation. Most Savennières are totally dry wines, but this cuvée is a vin tendre, slightly off-dry and mineral. In great years, it is an easy, accessible introduction to Savennières with great concentration of fruit and slatey mineral tones. Best served as an aperitif wine, it takes on further nuance and complexity with age.

The Clos du Papillon is a legendary wine, from one of the top sites in Savennières, so named because the plot`s shape resembles a butterfly. The picking is usually late, (October), and done in several consecutive passes in the vineyards so as to maximize the ripeness levels. This is a completely dry wine that serves forth an incredibly lacey mix of beeswax, roasted almonds, quince and apricot flavors with a lengthy slate mineral finish. Older great vintages of this wine attest to its potential to last and age beautifully.

Also made: Savennières la Jalousie (formerly les Coulées, or Cuvée Classique, i.e. dry) a classic Savennières from a stainless-steel cuvée of young and older vines from their steepest soils of pure schist; Anjou-Villages rouge; and, in very ripe years, Clos du Papillon Cuvée Spéciale (vin tendre, or off-dry) and Cuvée Coteaux (formerly Cuvée Isa), a rare moëlleux Savennières demi-sec.

Domaine du Moulin Villemade

Producer`s Notes:

Domaine du Moulin
is a family estate. My grandparents founded it, and I took over in 1995. At the time there were 8.5 hectares of rather young vines (15-20 years) that my grandparents had planted. The farm used to be in polyculture, and the old vines from the 60`s had been removed to plant new ones in the 70`s.

When I took over, I replanted 5 hectares and started renting some vines as well. I`ve also bought land over the years and today we find ourselves working 25 hectares (8 are mine, 8.5 are my parents` and the rest is rented).

When I first took over the estate, everything was farmed conventionally with chemicals in the vineyards. Unaware of the alternatives, I followed in my parents` footsteps and continued working this way. I quickly became very bored with the work and the wines. They were uninspired and bland.

Around this time I was introduced to wines that were different, that spoke to me, that struck a chord emotionally: natural wines. Coincidentally, at the exact same time that I was discovering these wines I started developing a very serious allergy to sulfur.

This was around 1997. My first attempt at sulfur free winemaking was in 1999. What I hadn`t realized, and what I quickly found out (through Marcel Lapierre in particular), was that to make sulfur free wine, you needed clean grapes. From that point I immediately started converting the entire estate to organic agriculture. This was in 2000.

In 1320 Pope Jean XXII planted the first vines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but it was only in 1360 that the wines of the region first gained fame.  Oddly, the wine that gave Châteauneuf-du-Pape its original reputation was the Blanc and not the Rouge.  The white wine was a favorite of Pope Innocent VI.  The Domaine dates back to 1826, having been founded at that time by Mathieu Jaume.  Since 1979, Alain Jaume has run the Domaine and now has the help of his two sons:  Sébastien and Christophe. 
"Popes throughout history have liked their juice, and when the papal see moved to Avignon in the 13th century, that juice was
Châteauneuf-du-Pape ("the pope`s new castle") made from grapes grown nearby in the Southern Rhône. The castle is a ruin now, the papal court long gone back to Rome, but the wines that bear the pope`s coat of arms emblazoned on the bottle are still produced more or less according to the long-standing recipe. Not every winemaker uses all 13 of the grapes in the proscribed blend, though. At Domaine Grand Veneur, an estate that dates to 1826, Alain Jaume and his sons Sebastien and Christophe emphasize Grenache blended with Syrah and Mourvèdre."
- Los Angeles Times

"Improved Châteauneuf with very accomplished, stylish reds since the late 1990s; also very good Vacqueyras and
Côtes-du-Rhône Villages." - Anthony Dias Blue`s pocket guide to wine 2006

"Grand Veneur is one of the most brilliant estates in Chateauneuf du Pape as well as the force behind the negociant wines sold under the Alain Jaume label. Virtually everything they produce has merit. Some of this estate`s 2009 red wines are just hitting the market as they are bottled early to preserve their fruit and freshness. I can`t say enough about the job Alain Jaume`s two sons, Sebastian and Christophe, have done with this estate. The impeccable attention to detail in the vineyards, the meticulous vinification, and the careful bottling benefit every consumer." - Wine Advocate (#190, August 2010)

"Great bargains continue to emerge from Domaine Grand Veneur as well as from their negociant arm of the business, labeled Alain Jaume" - Wine Advocate (#195, June 2011)

Pierrette and Marc Guillemot took over the Domaine from Pierrette`s parents in 1985. Pierrette and Marc are both oenolgists from the school of Beaune and post-graduates from Montpellier.  They have applied their studies and have married both scientific and homeopathic principles in their winemaking. The Domaine is located in the commune of Quintaine, adjacent to the village of Clessé, South of Burgundy. Quintaine is recognized as producing some of the finest wines of the Mâconnais, having a special microclimate caused by the close proximity of the Saone river.  The winery became biodynamic in 1991. They produce around 3,000 cases yearly and export 85% of the production (UK, USA, Belgium, Swizerland, Germany, Japan, etc)

"A tiny biodynamic estate making highly individual wines; the grapes are picked ripe, resulting in high alcohol levels and viscous textures; residual sugar not uncommon here."
- Anthony Dias Blue`s pocket guide to wine 2006

This 7-hectare (17.3 acres) vineyard on a clay and limestone based soil has been cultivated through biodynamic and organic methods since 1991 (the Biodynamic method regards the earth as a living organism and strives to renew the soil in order to produce food that is full of vitality and deeply nourishing. Biodynamics notes the interrelationship of all kingdoms - mineral, plant, animal and human - and their intricate correspondence to the rhythms and activities of the larger cosmos)That means they work in harmony with the cycle of the vines and the soil. They don`t use any chemicals and prefer mineral and vegetal treatments. They work the soil using manual and mechanical methods but they treat the vines only manually.

Since its founding in 1928, Vouvray`s Domaine Huët has been the standard-bearer for great, ageworthy Chenin Blanc. And to this day, year after year, the estate produces some of the world`s most compelling white wines—and in a remarkable range that spans sparkling, dry, semi-dry, and breathtaking dessert styles.

Chenin Blanc has been identified with Vouvray since at least the 9th century, and many of its great vineyards were known by the 14th century. By those standards, the 80-year-old Huët estate is relatively young. Yet it was this youngster that established, once and for all, that Vouvray was capable of world-class quality.

The domaine`s founder, Victor Huët, was a Parisian bistro owner. However, with lungs and nerves shattered by his experiences in WWI, Victor re-settled to the town of Vouvray in France’s beautiful Loire Valley. He soon purchased the first of his great vineyards, Le Haut-Lieu, in 1928, and Domaine Huët was born.

Victor`s son Gaston (born 1910) worked with his father from the beginning, and assumed full charge by 1937. With an obsessive devotion to quality, and an engaging showman`s personality, Gaston built the Huët legacy over the next 55 years, despite spending five years in a German POW camp during WWII.

Huddled around a patch of gnarled vines, a gaggle of French scientists engage in lively debate. The subject of their interest is a fascinating one. This plot of Fie Gris vines in Touraine is believed to have been planted before the phylloxera epidemic that ravaged France—and might just be the source of what we know as Sauvignon Blanc.

At its finest, Sauvignon Blanc can be one of the world`s most noble white wines. Bright citrus wrapped in melon sweetness, great Sauvignon Blanc delights with its signature stony, gunflint freshness. Thus it stands to reason that the believed mother of Sauvignon—Fie Gris—exhibits all its offspring`s vivacity with an added layer of flesh and depth.

While the scientific jury is still out, however, we certainly don`t need anyone to convince us of the greatness of Fie Gris—we`ve found it in Jacky Preys` outstanding “Terroir Pierre à Fusil.”  "Pierre à fusil" means gunpowder in French.

Preys` very old Fie Gris vines make their home in the small village of Meusnes, an area known more for mining than for classic wines. Touraine historically was the center of gunpowder production, and the surrounding hills are chock-full of flint, a mineral-rich rock that endows grapes with a bracing freshness and flinty fire.

Considering its ideal terroir, it`s sad that Meusnes has long stood in the long shadows of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Yet if you think you`ve tried the best of the Loire Valley, just wait until you`ve poured a glass of Fie Gris. What`s more, the Preys Fie Gris is very reasonably priced—how`s that for a glass of history?

Domaine Jean Reverdy

This Domaine is located in Verdigny, one of the top villages in Sancerre. It dates back to 1650 and has been in the family for about 10 generations. Originally the family was growing vines and diverse polycultures, but since the 1950`s they have been focusing on producing wine only. Christophe Reverdy, son of the late Jean Reverdy, now produces around 100,000 bottles per year on average and exports 70% of the total production to UK, Germany, Sweden, Japan and the USA.

The Domaine spreads over 12 hectares (29.64 acres): 9 hectares Sauvignon, 3 hectares Pinot Noir, and produces red, rosé and white wine. The age of the vines is 25 years and older. The vineyard is divided into 15 parcels located on the hills of Verdigny, Saint Satur, Sancerre and Thauvenay.
The vineyards are planted on three different types of soil:
- silicious-clay soils, "Terres a Silex" (east of the hills) - 55%
- pebbly limestone soils, known as the "Caillottes" - 35%
- clay and limestone white soils, the "Terres Blanches" (west of the hills) - 10%
The vineyard of Sancerre measures 2,500 hectares (6,175 acres) total and spreads over 14 communes: Bannay, Bué, Crézancy, Menetou-Ratel, Ménetréol, Montigny, St-Satur, Ste-Gemme, Sancerre, Sury-en-Vaux, Thauvenay, Veaugues, Verdigny and Vinon.
The Sancerre A.O.C. was created in 1936 for the white wines and in 1959 for the reds.

Located in the town of Preuilly, Domaine Joseph Mellot is one of the leaders in the Loire Valley. The Mellot dynasty was founded in Sancerre almost five centuries ago by Pierre-Etienne Mellot and, since then, the family has always been involved in winemaking. In fact, in 1698 César Mellot was entrusted with the weighty task of advising King Louis XIV on his choice of wines. Throughout the years, each new generation has continued to enrich and perfect the family`s winemaking skills. In 1984, Joseph`s son, Alexandre, took over the estate with quality as his main objective and a focus on the artisanal winemaking process and philosophy transmitted from one owner to the other.

Jean-Michel Sorbe took over the family estate in 1973 and for about 30 years devoted his energy and passion to develop the reputation if the Quincy and Reuilly appellations. His wines had a great success and Jean-Michel Sorbe became a well-known personality in the region.
The Sorbe and Mellot families met through a mutual friend and began working together in 1988. In 1999, since his children had chosen to follow other paths, Jean-Michel decided to hand his estate over to Alexandre Mellot.

They farm 11 hectares (27 acres) in Reuilly (10 hectares in the commune of Preuilly, 1 hectare in Reuilly), and 3 hectares (7.4 acres) in Quincy. 
Soils:
- Preuilly: orange colored clay on ancient alluvial deposits (clay and silt). Deep, structured sols.
- Reuilly: grainy sand, Fairly light soils with a clay subsoil.
- Quincy: 2 parcels are planted on alluvial deposits (sand and gravel from the beginning of the quaternary period); 1 parcel has a higher clay content with the presence of lacustrine limestone on the surface.

Importer`s Notes:

Of the many excellent domaines we work with in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, La Millière probably makes the most exuberant wine.

At times the wines of La Millière seem flowery, reminiscent of violets and irises. At other times, baking spices dominate, such as cinnamon and nutmeg. For a wonderful surprise, open a bottle and watch the wine evolve over the course of the evening. La Millière wines are like a kaleidoscope that constantly refracts and reforms.

All of Arnaud`s Châteauneuf vines are located in Cabrières, just below Mont Redon. This region is blessed with the best soils of Châteauneuf—round galet stones the size of fists, well-draining sand, and mineral-rich limestone. Vines that have seen close to a century of life in Châteauneuf sit north/west on Arnaud`s vineyard slopes.

Ancient too are the vines Arnaud sources for his "smaller" crus.  Some of Arnaud`s oldest Grenache vines grow in his vineyards just below Mont Redon. These 100+ year old vines produce incredibly dense fruit that make up his finest Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône-Villages wines.

Millière`s Merlot vineyards sit right next to his Côtes du Rhône plots. These younger vines grow on sandy, clay-based soils. This region, just north of Cabrières near Orange, is very good for vin de pays. The mistral sweeps through, keeping humidity low, while sandy soils provide good drainage. A “joli terroir de Merlot,” says Millière.

Arnaud`s life philosophy is organic—in the fields and in his kitchen, too. He`s a very accomplished chef, and often shares his recipes with us.

Winemaker Alexander Fouque and his rich array of southern French wines may be one of the most exciting discoveries for us of the past 10 years. What we`ve found at this beautiful estate is unparalleled—unique terroir, top-notch winemaking and natural wines that perform far above their price point.

Fouque, who rightly calls himself an artisan vigneron, is a serious student of the soil and of the vine. He has pursued his love of winemaking from France to the U.S. and back again, spending time studying and working in Beaune, Reims, the Napa Valley and Provence. A trained enologist and expert agriculturalist, Fouque is exacting in his vision—it is evident that each and every cru is not only technically perfect but also passionately crafted.

Hard work and an organic mindset sets La Tour Penedesses apart from the rest. Fouque works hard to care for all his vineyards as organically as possible—a route that always requires more work than less. The estate`s natural compost comes from local goats and hay; cover crops help keep vines healthy. Fouque works entirely by hand in the fields, and uses only natural yeasts during fermentation.

The Faugères appellation is one of the more unique regions of the Languedoc—with its higher altitudes and predominately poor, schist soils, wines here are more character-driven, complex and far better balanced than those from Languedoc`s hotter flatlands. The regional “grec” winds from the northeast (similar to the “mistral” in Provence) also helps keep vines healthy and cool.

“Cuvée Antique—Grand Terroirs” is the estate`s finest value. A blend of nine different red grapes from five domaine vineyards, “Cuvée Antique” represents a selection of the domaine`s oldest vines.

Grapes for “Montagne Noir,” or “black mountain,” from Faugères are grown exclusively on hillsides with poor schist soils, which are very mineral; the topsoil is black, thus the inspiration for the vineyard`s name. A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre.  “Cuvée des Volcans,” a blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre, is a selection of very old vines that grow on the volcanic soils of “Sainte Marthe,” an ancient (and long dormant) volcano.

“Clos de Magrignan—Montee des Schistes” hails from a single, four-hectare vineyard near Faugères that enjoys its own microclimate. Much cooler than the domaine`s other holdings, harvest here takes place more than two weeks later than usual. This 100% Syrah wine is from very low yields (less than 25 hl/ha); the region has been nicknamed “La Côte des Petites Rôties.”

Christian Chaussard, like the proverbial cat, has had several lives already. For years, he worked in public works, before learning viticulture and oenology, then teaching those in a professional school while running his estate in Vouvray. A series of climactic hardships forced him to abandon his estate, so he also quit teaching and decided to be a winemaker in the “new world.”

Before accomplishing that goal, he met Nathalie Gaubicher, a Swiss actress with a oenologist and sommelier diploma, and they set out to find vines somewhere in France. Their search took them all around the country and to all wine regions. In 2002, they settled in the Jasnières/Coteaux-du-Loir area in northern Touraine. The area is 155 miles south-west of Paris between the cities of Le Mans and Tours, 28 miles north of Vouvray. The entirety of Jasnières covers 80 hectares of vines, and Coteaux-du-Loir about 200 hectares. The soils are largely all clay and silica over a subsoil of limestone and Domaine le Briseau was started with 4 hectares of vines planted mainly with Chenin Blanc and Pineau d’Aunis.

In 2005, Christian and Nathalie started a small négoce called Nana, Vins & Cie, for which they buy grapes on the vines and harvest them with their team. These grapes are vinified the same way as the estate’s grapes, in order to produce totally natural wines.

By 2007, the estate had grown to 11 hectares. All vineyard work is done according to the principles of organic viticulture (with the certification of Qualité France): no pesticides, insecticides or chemical fertilizers are used; nettle and horsetail decoctions are sprayed on the foliage; copper is used in modest quantity (less than 5kg/HA); the vines are plowed and grass allowed to grow in the rows. In 2006, the estate started its conversion to biodynamic principles.

Pierre et Monique Luneau-Papin head this 30-hectare estate in Le Landreau, in the heart of Muscadet country, where small hamlets dot a landscape of vineyards on low hills. Their estate, also known as Domaine Pierre de la Grange, has been in existence since the early 18th century when it was already planted with Melon de Bourgogne, the Muscadet varietal. Pierre and Monique are the eighth generation of winemakers in the family. Pierre is a genial, low-key, distracted professor type. He is technically retired and has passed the torch to his son Pierre-Marie (who is officially heading the estate as of the 2011 vintage), but still very active in everyday aspects of cellar and vine work. His wife Monique, lively, energetic and equally genial, is the business manager.

Muscadet is an area where, unfortunately, a lot of undistinguished bulk wine is produced. Because of the size of their estate, and of the privileged terroir of the villages of Le Landreau, Vallet and La Chapelle Heulin, the Luneau family has opted for producing smaller cuvées from their several plots, which are always vinified separately so as to reflect their terroir`s particular character. The soil is mainly micaschist and gneiss, but some plots are a mix of silica, volcanic rocks and schist. The estate has a high proportion of old vines, 40 years old on average, up to 65 years of age.

The harvest is done by hand -also a rarity in the region- to avoid any oxidation before pressing. There is an immediate light débourbage (separation of juice from gross lees), then a 4-week fermentation at 68 degrees, followed by 6 months of aging in stainless-steel vats on fine lees. This is the classic Muscadet-sur-lie process, where the wine is kept on its lees, with a fair amount of CO2 as protection, until bottling in the spring following the harvest. The only modern technique used here is macération pelliculaire (maceration of lightly crushed berries before pressing), which varies in proportion according to the cuvées.

Domaine Marcel Richaud

 

Cairanne produces many of the best wines made in the vast Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages area due to a group of talented and dedicated winemakers and good terroir. Situated atop a range of low hills, with perfect exposure, looking east over the plain between the Aigues and Ouvèze rivers, the elevation ensures slightly cooler temperatures than on the Plan de Dieu, (as the plain below is known), where the summer heat is usually extreme.

Marie and Marcel Richaud run Domaine Marcel Richaud, with Marcel as winemaker and Marie as manager. Marcel tends 40 hectares of vines, his own or his neighbors`, and vinifies the grapes of about half this surface. His estate is made up of plots inherited from his parents and of rented parcels, so some grapes are sold to the local coop or to négociants. There are less Grenache vines than on most estates of the area, just 25% of the varietals grown, and the same amount of Syrah and Mourvèdre. The remainder of the estate is 10% Cinsault and 15% various local varietals. This mix is one of the reasons why Richaud`s wines have such great balance and finesse. Mourvèdre especially plays an important role in toning down the alcohol degree that Grenache easily reaches in a warm year: it requires more sun and later picking, and in Cairanne it is at the northern edge of its growing region. As is often the case, a varietal gives its best and most nuanced in such “border” territory, witness red Burgundies and red Touraines from Cabernet Franc.

 

Importer`s Notes:

“The wines that Philippe Delarche produce in conjunction with
American importers Peter Vezan and David Hinkle (labeled Reserve and bottled by hand without fining or filtering) are deeply and vividly flavored, packed with intense fruit.”
—Andrew Jeffords, The New France


During a quiet moment in the Delarche family cellars, one would find it hard to tell Philippe and his son, Etienne, apart. Both would stand, thoughtfully, over a recently drawn sample of their prized Le Corton—vines Philippe planted when Etienne was born—and quietly nod with the patience and knowledge of artisans who have spent their whole lives living among the fruits of their labors.

So much of the joy of importing wine is the connections we make with winemaking families. For more than 20 years we`ve returned to this petite cellar in Pernand-Vergelesses, to enjoy the unmistakable terroir purity found in each wine and to pass time in the company of this caring, thoughtful family.

Sadly winemaker Philippe Delarche passed away in late 2008, following a long battle with cancer. His son Etienne, whom we`ve watched grow into an incredibly talented artisan, just like his father—has been working full-time at the domaine since his return from enology school in Beaune in 2005. The domaine`s recent vintages has been a revelation, the product of two talented men who have both grown up among their vineyards, and know each plot virtually by heart; while we will miss Philippe dearly, we are encouraged and excited about Etienne`s future in Pernand-Vergelesses.

The style of Delarche Burgundy, both red and white, is determined completely by terroir. All of their wines are mineral-rich in the most complex and tantalizing ways, with a luscious core of citrus-spiced fruit. Never superficial, the wines respect the soils that produced them and are slavishly true to them.

Delarche`s red wines are an all-star roster of the Côte de Beaune: grand crus Le Corton, Corton-Renardes, and the premier cru "Ile des Vergelesses."  Delarche whites are always a model of depth and purity. They hail from such vineyards as Corton-Charlemagne and Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru “Sous Frétille.”  “Sous Frétille” is one of the best parts of “Les Quartiers”; it has in recent years been awarded premier cru status.

Another characteristic all Delarche wines share is their ability to age gracefully. This isn`t immediately obvious, as so many of his wines are rich and approachable upon release. Yet underneath those smiles lie delicious depths and mysteries just waiting to be discovered years—or even decades later.

Domaine Trois Frères

The Couillaud brothers, Bernard, Michel and François, joined together in 1979 and expanded the original small family holding to the present size. They export their wines in England, Japan, Germany, Holland, Belgium, and the U.S.A.

Located on a south-facing slope of granitic soil near the village of Vallet, in the heart of the Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine appellation, the vineyard measures 66 hectares (145.73 acres): 36 hectares (88.92 acres) planted with Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet), 27 hectares (66.69 acres) with Chardonnay and 3 hectares (7.41 acres) with Gros-Plant.

Domaine Vacheron

The Vacheron family has been influential in Sancerre since the turn of the century--from day one, this has always been a family operation. Great-grandfather Maurice Vacheron tended a few vines in the silex-rich soils of his hometown back when Sancerre was but a forlorn stop on a village road. His son, Jean Vacheron, was the first of the family to specialize in wine production. Moving from cultivating grain to Pinot Noir, Jean is one of the main reasons why the family`s Pinot Noir bottlings are some of the finest in the region. (The Vacherons today as well are one of the largest producers of Sancerre rouge.)

Jean`s sons, Denis and Jean-Louis, established the Vacheron winery as we know it today--these brothers ran the estate jointly, sharing many of its duties. Denis today is the president of the Sancerre appellation, and is especially involved in managing the family`s vineyard holdings--as of 2006, the family tends 11 hectares of Pinot Noir, and 29 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc. Jean-Louis managed the family cellars; today you will still find him there, tasting from cask as well as pouring samples of their award-winning wines for visitors.

Denis` son Jean-Laurent, 32 years old, started working full-time at the estate in 2002. Well trained by both his father as well as by his experiences abroad (he spent a few years in California assisting Aubert de Villaine with his own estate there), Jean-Laurent, with his cousin Jean-Dominique (son of Jean-Louis), truly do everything at the estate. Jean-Dominique came on full-time in 1993, when he was 21 years old.

Organic viticulture has been a goal of the family for a number of years; as of 2003, the entire estate was certified organic. The following year the winery was converted completely to biodynamic agriculture--to be sure, you won`t find more terroir-driven Sancerre anywhere else in the appellation. Jean-Dominique and Jean-Laurent Vacheron are ably leading the domaine to ever-loftier winemaking heights. The wines speak for themselves—always consistent, the quality of Vacheron Sancerre continues to astound.

The region`s soils are rich with silex, a flinty rock that rests on a bed of clay and limestone. The family`s “Les Romains,” a single-vineyard Sauvignon, is grown on 100% silex soil. The Vacheron Sancerre rouge is 100% Pinot Noir and raised primarily in tank. The “Belle Dame,” comes from 40+ year old Pinot Noir vines that grow on a severe, southeast-facing hillside. With possibly the oldest vines in Sancerre, this vineyard produces some of the most concentrated Pinots in the region.

Dominio de Pingus

While other Spanish wines have acheived international recognition, Pingus is one of the very few that has joined the ranks of the world`s most coveted wines. Like Coche-Dury`s Corton-Charlemagne, Guigal`s LaLa wines, or Giacomo Conterno`s Monfortino, Pingus is known and revered wherever great wine is discussed.

Like those other esteemed names, Pingus has a quality that is often lacking in today`s “modern” wines—a sense of utter inviduality. For there is no other wine in the world today that shares Pingus` unique signature and, ultmately, that singularity is one of the fundamental requirements for great wine.

Producer`s Notes:

Dry Fly Distilling is true craft distillery, located in beautiful Spokane, Washington. We produce award-winning vodka, gin, whiskies, and now bourbon using only locally grown grains and botanicals. Our stills, manufactured in Goppingen, Germany, are custom designed Christian Carl pot stills with multiple rectification columns. Both have 450-liter capacities and we expect an annual output of no more than 12 to 15 thousand cases of 12/750 mL bottles. Dry Fly is owned and operated by Don Poffenroth and Kent Fleischmann, both former marketing executives.

Dupond
Duquesne

E. Pira e Figli is a key player in the history of Barolo. The Pira family, whose members have been vignerons for generations, started producing and bottling wine at the end of the 19th century, receiving immediate recognition for their stellar quality.

When the Pira lineage ended tragically with the death of Luigi Pira, the estate was sold to the Boschis family, of Giacomo Borgogno & Figli. Chiara Boschis took the reins in 1990 with a clear vision of what she wanted to accomplish; to marry the extraordinary power of Barolo with approachability, enticing elegance, and lush, intense aromas. She vinifies exclusively from proprietary vineyards, located in the very best crus of Barolo: Cannubi, San Lorenzo and Via Nuova, for a grand total of only 6 acres.

Annual production is a miniscule 2,000 cases. In the short time Chiara has run the estate, she has quickly become a "Superwoman" in the area, as one of only a few female winemakers in the Langhe. Her wines are also no strangers to the limelight, regularly garnering high praise from international publications. This is truly a rare gem of an estate.

Chiara`s Baroli are reminiscent of great Burgundy. She is a farmer first. As a winemaker, she is a master at tannin management, crafting finessed and sophisticated wines that are some of the most aromatically dynamic expressions of Barolo today.

El Ganador

These wines originate with a Spanish family based in Navarra. The grapes come from hand-harvested vineyards situated in Lujan de Cuyo. The winery uses a Marzola Basket Press, which has a solid reputation for quality. The press is hydraulic with an electric engine, and the plates are stainless steel with the bottom plate slanted to allow for maximum drainage. Basket walls are constructed of waterproofed wooden slats joined by stainless steel rings that can be switched out, allowing for continual filling and pressing. The computerized control panel can be programmed in various speeds and pressure, allowing the operator better control for extracting juice.  Tiza is a lot specially selected by the importer. 2,500 cases produced, 2,500 cases imported.

The 220 acres of vines are planted to Malbec (first vines date back to 1912). The vineyard is situated 1,000 meters above sea level and is planted on alluvial soils with subsoils made of stone and sandy/limestone sediments. The quality of the soil together with the high density of vines per hectare contribute to produce very low yields with excellent fruits.

As more Americans have discovered its extraordinary lusciousness, vivid fruit, soft mousse, and captivating perfume, it is no surprise that the following for Moscato d`Asti has grown dramatically in recent years.

As a summer sipper, Moscato is without peer. Ambrosial with melon and prosciutto (a classic combination), it is also a superb light dessert wine, perfect with melon, pears or strawberries (especially if the fruit has been steeped in Moscato beforehand).

Yet, because of its delicacy and dependence on perfect balance, great Moscato is hard to make, and only a few producers have mastered the craft. One of these is Stefano Perrone who has quickly emerged as one of the region`s stars.

In 1995, The Rare Wine Company`s Mannie Berk set out to discover the Great New Moscato Producer. He organized a tasting in Italy of the Moscatos of over a dozen producers, all of whom had top reputations locally. After tasting them blind he came up with a short list of growers whose wines he thought were outstanding. He then visited them and tasted not only the 95`s again, but also their 94`s (to see how the previous year’s wines were holding up).

Ultimately, he chose the Moscato of Stefano Perrone, who had taken over the duties of the family domaine named for his father. A retired champion motocross racer, Stefano`s formidable reputation rests squarely on his two Moscatos: Sourgal, released in late November, and his best wine, Clarté, which is released in April.

By the late-90s, Stefano was looking for new challenges. He recognized that the Asti zone possessed many old Barbera vineyards, and he purchased two of them, one 40-years-old and the other an amazing 70-years-old. From both vineyards, Stefano produces Barbera that captures the ethereal freshness for which the Asti zone is noted.

At the same time that he was branching out into Barbera, Stefano produced his first vintages of Bigaro—a softly sweet, gently effervescent salmon-colored sparkler made from Brachetto and Moscato. Robert Parker, Jr. called the debut 2001 Bigaro “beguiling.”

Mannie`s faith in Stefano has been rewarded by an unbroken string of sensational wines since we began working with him in 1995. While the Moscatos go from strength to strength, we can only wait to see what other marvels emerge from his cellars.

Elisabetta Foradori has become one of Italy`s top “superstar” winemakers. Without a doubt, she is Italy`s finest producer of wines made from the Teroldego grape variety, one of the country`s oldest and finest traditional grapes. The Teroldego grape is genetically related to Syrah, and here in the northern Trentino`s mountain valleys it reaches its zenith in the subzone known as Campo Rotaliano. All the Foradori Teroldego vineyards lie in the side valley of Campo Rotaliano, and it is from these beautiful vineyards that Elisabetta Foradori is quietly producing some of Italy`s most complex, deep and compelling red wines. The estate`s vines are farmed biodynamically, and are all planted in a broad selection of old massale selection plants that she was responsible for isolating and propagating (along with the department of viticulture at the University of Milan). Teroldego may not have the same international cachet as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, but the Foradori wines are stunning examples of world class red wines that dance rings around the vast, vast majority of modern Italian wines made from these two international grape varieties.

Importer`s Notes:

Let no one deny it: Terroir matters.  Case in point are the expressive, eloquent wines from Frédéric Magnien of Morey-St.-Denis.

No one could have better access to excellent fruit than Fred, a fifth-generation Burgundy native, whose father Michel (of Domaine Michel Magnien) is universally held in the highest regard. Fred purchases only the finest grapes for his wines; his father, in contrast, grows all the grapes for his own label, while Fred makes the wines.

Magnien obviously learned from the best, at his father`s side.  He also traveled to California and to Austrialia to hone his craft, before returning to Burgundy and starting his own négociant domaine.  Given his family ties and experience in the area, Fred`s access to the finest vineyards of the Cote d`Or is exceptional.

There`s no question that Magnien knows every nook and cranny of Burgundy by heart. As a child, he used these hallowed vineyards as his off-road bicycle course, riding through premier and grand cru plots.  As a winemaker, his tradition hasn`t changed much.  Magnien rides his mountain bike through the fields to see which plots would suit him; what he`s looking for is vineyards that catch the earliest rays of sunshine. If the owner of the vineyard is out early tending his vines, it is doubly good.

Magnien doesn`t just buy grapes sight unseen; he asks to both supervise yields and select fruit at harvest. Magnien too does not drive a hard bargain. "If I like what I see, I never haggle," he said. His ultimate goal is to show the growers he respects their work. "If you ask for a "bargain", that is what you will get," Magnien said.

He only uses the highest-grade François Frères oak, aged three years and allocated to other exclusive estates such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Comtes de Lafon. Magnien`s label includes small quantities of the finest premier and grand cru wines from about 25 different parcels in Burgundy.

The Bugey is small viticultural area whose fame doesn`t extend much farther than the city of Lyons, where its sparkling Cerdon and Montagnieu have long been staples in bistros.

Located in the eastern part of the Ain department, which is better known for its poulet de Bresse (the only French poultry with its own AOC) and its freshwater fish, the Bugey is a series of low altitude hills forming the most southern tip of the Jura range. In distance, it is closer to Savoie than to viticultural Jura, so, if mentioned at all, it is often considered a part of Savoie.

Winemakers in the Bugey beg to differ. They feel that their region has a soil and a climate all its own, which produce wines found nowhere else in France (Cerdon being the less obscure example of Bugey`s originality).

Montagnieu is a village south of Cerdon, with premières côtes overlooking the Rhône valley, and most of its production is a white sparkling wine made from Chardonnay, Roussette de Savoie, Gamay and Jacquère. The grape Roussette is called Altesse locally, and it survives in the Bugey in a few patches of old vines, for it is not as hardy, reliable and productive as others. Only two young winemakers in Montagnieu, Franck Peillot and Benoît Dumont, produce still wines exclusively from this grape. By law, the wine, Roussette du Bugey, can contain any white varietal, in any proportion. That`s why Peillot’s is labelled 100% Altesse.

Peillot, who took over his family estate five years ago, carries on the work of 4 generations before him. Although he makes a sparkling Montagnieu from Chardonnay, Altesse, and Mondeuse, he vinifies all of his Altesse old vines as a still wine. With low yields and high ripeness, he is set to revive the wine that Jules Chauvet (a Beaujolais négociant, eminent taster and writer who has inspired a whole school of “natural winemaking”, notably in Morgon) put on a par with Château Chalon, Château Grillet and Yquem. Exaggeration aside, the varietal is thought to be a cousin of the Hungarian Furmint of Tokay fame, and, even when vinified dry, it retains a fair amount of residual sugar. Peillot is also a believer in the quality of his Mondeuse grapes, and is the lone vigneron in the village who obtained the appellation Montagnieu Mondeuse with his red wine in the 1997 vintage.

Franco Noussan

Franco Noussan is a “garagiste” in St Christophe, in the hills above the town of Aosta. His cave is dug into the hillside and is literally an extension of his garage. He is a teacher at the local university in Aosta and when not teaching, he likes to work in the vineyards and make wine and eaux-de-vie.

The grapes are from small family parcels in different areas near St-Christophe. In 1999, his family acquired vineyards from his wife Gabriella`s side. They were all old vines vineyards, the majority over 70 years, planted in Petit Rouge, Mayolet, Fumin and Pinot Gris. The vines are all over 40 years and the majority much older. In 2003 he also began renting some vineyards and now has about 5.5 hectares of surface. The vineyards are worked without herbicides and are plowed. The yields are kept small. He started making wine just for the family`s and friends` consumption, but then began bottling and selling the wine in 2005 under his own label.

The grapes are harvested by hand, the fermentations are with indigenous yeast in stainless steel tanks, pressed using a hand press, then the wine is aged in smaller oak barrels from a year to 14 months. The wines are bottled unfiltered. All of this done in Franco`s garage/cave.

Gérard Raphet

Importer`s Notes:

Gerard Raphet wines from bottle are perhaps the closest in aroma and taste, of all our Burgundy producers, to what it is actually like to sample wines in a Burgundy cellar.

This experience is not to be sniffed at. There are those who argue that Burgundy never tastes better, fresher, or livelier, than straight out of the cask. Old Burgundy has enormous charm too, of course, but it is in fact one of our goals to deliver to you the pleasure we experience when tasting in person—and no one delivers the live, in person excitement of fresh Burgundy more authentically than Raphet.

Raphet wines have historically proven time and time again that they age gorgeously—if, of course, you can resist their youthful charm. These are fruit-driven, aromatically complex and lushly textured old-vine Pinot Noir from some of Burgundy`s finest terroirs. Most of the wines we import as "Cuvée Unique" selections are premier and grand cru single-barrel bottlings, yielding on average only 23 cases each. All our wines are bottled without fining or filtration.

Gerald Vallée

The young, passionate, Gianni Doglia, along with his sister Paola own five hectares of vineyards with 20-year-old vines near the village of Castagnole Lanze in the heart of the Asti district of Piemonte. The Doglia Moscato is uniquely held under pressure in tanks, as grape must and then the wine is finished and bottled to order, ensuring the absolute, freshest possible expression of Moscato d`Asti throughout the vintage. Within a category that is normally dedicated to large, commercial, volume production, Doglia`s estate grown vineyards produce a miniscule, quantity of 3000 cases of artisan made Moscato d`Asti, whose quality is unmatched in the Moscato category.

Giorgio & Vesna Clai

The first decade of the new millennium has been an important moment for Piedmont`s venerable Giuseppe Mascarello estate.

With the world increasingly enchanted by the magic of classic Barolo, the estate’s legendary Barolo Monprivato has emerged as one of the region`s crown jewels—while its maker, the equally legendary Mauro Mascarello, is increasingly regarded as an Italian national treasure.

Such acclaim is long overdue for a winemaker whose track record dates back more than four decades. But it was also inevitable: now that Giovanni Conterno and Bartolo Mascarello are gone, he is the last of his generation of great classically inspired winemakers in Barolo.

Like Giovanni and Bartolo, Mauro is a traditionalist dedicated to long fermentations and aging in old botti. But he has also made important changes, not the least of which was the creation of a single Barolo from the great Monprivato vineyard in 1970. Prior to that year, his family had always made their towering Barolos and Barolo Riservas by blending Monprivato fruit with grapes from other sites.

Gourt de Matens (Bressy)

Alberto Graci`s tiny cantina is located at Passopisciaro on the north side of Mt. Etna on Sicily`s eastern coast. In this small area, viticultural history dates back for thousands of years. The vineyards are planted mainly to Nerello Mascalese and are found between 600 and 1000 meters. Planting densities range from 6,000 to 10,000 vines per hectare, many of which are up to 100 years old - planted on their on own rootstock (un-grafted) and trained to the “Alberello“or bush vine system. Alberto Graci harvests from only his own vineyards and practices totally organic viticulture - in many vineyards, not even Bordeaux Mixture is used. Aberto uses natural, rather than inoculated yeasts, and absolutely no chemicals are used in the vineyards. One finds no barrique here. Open topped wooden vessels are used for fermentation, and only old large oak ovals are used for maturation. The wines are never filtered. The goal is to protect and preserve the very particular identity of Nerello Mascalese.

Producer`s Notes:

We believe that great wines share common traits - great vineyards, minimalist winemaking, time and patience. Gramercy`s philosophy is simple - to develop or partner with the best vineyards, harvest ripe - not over-ripe - grapes, intervene minimally in the winemaking process, and use as little new oak as possible. We believe that too many wines have excessive alcohol and new oak, are overly fruity and taste as if they could be from anywhere.  We created Gramercy Cellars to make different wines that display balance, both fruit and earthiness, restraint and elegance. Our wines may require time to develop and open, but reward patience. This is our passion. At Gramercy Cellars, we seek to produce wines that complement food, provide great pleasure and stand out as uniquely in Washington.
 

Gran Sasso

Gran Sasso is the name of of a project between friends Valentino Sciotti and Camillo De Iuliis, which involves wineries and wine brands in 3 different regions. The company`s home is in the Abruzzo region of central Italy, where the Gran Sasso d`Italia (Great Stone of Italy) forms the centerpiece of the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga. Within the park are found the highest mountains in continental Italy south of the Alps.

In Abruzzo, the Gran Sasso range of wines is vinified at a winery facility called Rodea. The enormous former cantina sociale in the coastal town of Roseto degli Abruzzi was purchased for a relative song and completely renovated in 2004, with spanking new, state of the art equipment. Here the wines from local grapes are vinified by an extremely talented winemaking team which includes Fellipo Baccalaro and the young Marco Flacco. The team works with local growers - many of them former owners of the Cantina - utilizing their premium vineyards and viticultural expertise, while breaking with the Abruzzese model of high-output/indifferent quality. Instead, growers are rewarded for better viticultural practices, lower yields, and healthier fruit, and are coached by a team of expert viticulturists led by Remo di Giuliantonio. Critically, growers are paid by the Hectare rather than by the Kilo. The formula works well, with a dependable source of low yielding, high quality fruit and a huge team of pickers (growers) who can harvest a collective 100 Ha in 2 days rather than 2 weeks. Therefore the grapes can be picked at optimal ripeness.

Since 1996, after taking over his family`s vineyards to fulfill his father`s dream of making great wine, Vito Catania has produced some of Sicily`s most sought-after wines from 70 hectares of grapes, located in the commune of Chiaramonte Gulfi in the province of Ragusa, about 500 meters above sea level. His passion for wine led him to collaborate with Salvo Foti (undoubtedly Sicily`s top winemaker), to pull up his father`s pergola-trained vines and to make some of the finest wines coming from the area of the Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG. Vines were replanted using the traditional alberello, a head-trained bush that forces the plant to produce lesser quantity, yet higher-quality grapes. Here one finds the true home of the grape Nero d`Avola (“Calavirisi” in the local dialect), and also Frappato, as well as local varieties of white grapes (Albanello, Carricante, Moscatello). The wines are all produced from organically cultivated, dry-farmed, hand-picked vines and in fact are certified organic. Each vineyard parcel is vinified separately. The winery is celebrated by the Gambero Rosso as a frequent Tre Bicchieri winner. While the basic wines, both white and red, are elegant, well-made, and pleasing, it is the four Crus of alberello-trained Nero d`Avola from different plots near Noto in the Syracuse province that have bedazzled critics and wine lovers. Gulfi`s quartet of celebrated vineyards are in the hamlet of Pachino, one of hottest areas on the island. Located twelve miles south of the Baroque town of Noto on the extreme southeastern point of Sicily, Pachino dips below North Africa and lies farther south than Tunisia. Days are roasting hot, nights are cool and windy, and the area boasts the lowest rainfall on the island - this is where Nero d`Avola thrives and is the variety`s classic growing area, having originated around the environs of the nearby town of Avola.

This is a young family-run winery located in the north-east of Austria, in Ketzelsdorf-Poysdorf. The owners Sylvia and Martin Hugl aim to produce fruity, full-bodied wines that are typical of the region and the soils. They make use of the experience of their parents and combine it with their know-how and modern techniques to create high-quality wines. To keep quality high they limit quantity by cutting back, thinning, and green harvesting. A careful handling of the grapes during harvesting is as necessary, along with a cool fermentation in the cellar.

Jacques Selosse

Every decade or so, a winemaker comes along who, through the force of his ideas, and the brilliance of his work, has the power to change the course of wine history. Anselme Selosse is such an individual — and the man most responsible for the revolution that’s changing Champagne for the better.

Since taking over Champagne Jacques Selosse in 1980, Anselme has used the uncompromising brilliance of his wines — as well as no small amount of charisma — to challenge Champagne`s old defintions for excellence. If ten or twenty years from now, small, quality-driven growers have finally taken their share of the power — and the big houses have fully embraced the ideas of low yields, chemical-free vineyards and terroir-based wines — Anselme will deserve much of the credit.

Jean-Luc Dubois

There is no better representative of the underappreciated-yet-dazzling Burgundian terroir than Domaine Dubois. Chorey-lès-Beaune, and its sister appellation, Savigny-lès-Beaune, are an insider`s secret to vibrant, earthy and stunning value Burgundy. Once you discover Dubois, you will certainly agree that for price/quality, Chorey and Savigny can`t be beat.

Every vintage we visit Jean-Luc`s petite cellars to select the finest wines from his older barrels and tank to bottle, unfined and unfiltered, as our "Cuvee Unique" bottlings.  Packed with fruit yet true to terroir, Dubois works magic in top-notch vineyards that are still surprisingly little known to alleged lovers of the Cote d`Or. We say, good for us and for you—our selections at Dubois are a delicious secret worth keeping.

The terroir secret of “Clos Margot” is that it sits on a special vein of gravel that runs through Chorey; this added stony influence gives the wine more definition and precision. “Les Picotins” is pure Savigny—a rustic, enticing nose of sous-bois and red fruits make way for a juicy, decadent mouthful that is pure Pinot Noir pleasure at its most satisfying.

A noble terroir has at last reclaimed its birthright. Once esteemed above all other villages for its white wines, Meursault fell from grace in the late 19th century (read more about this bottom of page)—despite having a greater diversity of superb Chardonnay soils than any other place in Burgundy, and possibly any other spot on earth.

Today, Meursault is back on top, and a new generation of winemakers is capitalizing on its diverse soils to make some of Burgundy`s most exciting white wines. “Expression” is the order of the day, and wines of unprecedented individuality are emerging from such cellars as Comtes Lafon, Guy Roulot and Arnaud Ente. But if there is one winemaker who points the way to the future, it may be Jean-Philippe Fichet.

The Magic Within. More than any of his peers, Fichet is testing the limits of transparency, to find the very soul of Meursault`s terroirs. It was Meursault`s destiny to have its soils revealed in this way: their intense stoniness is magnified by an exceptionally low water table, forcing the vines` roots deep underground.

Fichet`s work is a direct outgrowth of a breakthrough that happened three decades ago: René Lafon’s decision to bottle his Meursault “Clos de la Barre” on its own. For a century before, such a thing had been unheard of, as only the most famous vineyards—the premier crus—were ever bottled individually; everything else was blended into Meursault villages.

No Short Cuts. Fichet`s methods reflect his philosophy: he is famously meticulous and abhors taking short cuts. His low yields, the foremost key to quality, are achieved through severe winter pruning rather than by green harvesting. And he believes his wines` expressiveness is enhanced through a patient eighteen-month élevage, with little new oak and by avoiding aggressive lees stirring.

The wines that Jean-Philippe Fichet is making today have few rivals for their class in Burgundy, and they could be unmatched in their transparency and expressiveness.

The Estate
The Bryson family has been involved in agriculture for five generations (150 years in South Australia) and has long recognized the potential of the Limestone Coast`s maritime climate for producing premium quality grapes.

The Vineyards
In the early 90`s, the family established the Jip Jip Rocks vineyard, in South Australia`s Limestone Coast wine region. They have concentrated on growing premium varieties of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The vineyard consistently produces excellent fruit quality from low yielding vines. Only the best parcels of fruit are carefully selected throughout the vineyard and used in the Jip Jip Rocks label. Great attention is given to detail with the integration of fruit flavors and fine oak barrels and helps to produce classic handcrafted wine styles.

Their sole objective is to produce the best wines possible from their unique vineyard site. Planted on own rootstock and located in the Padthaway valley which is comprised of rich Terra Rosa soils their estate vineyard benefits from excellent sun exposure producing grapes of optimum flavor, color and tannin development. The warm summer days are moderated each evening by coastal winds that cool the vines and result in a longer ripening period. This extended period allows for the grape tannins and seed to fully ripen prior to being harvested, thus creating wines that are rich and supple on the palate.

Their pursuit of great wine can also be seen in the meticulous management of our vineyard. They strive for low crop yields and small grape bunches of intense flavor, and whilst they employ the latest technology in the vineyard to help us achieve vine balance and reduced vigor, they harvest when the fruit reaches full flavor development.

Importer`s Notes:

It is a real challenge to capture the essence and raison d`etre of Kalin. If you`ve ever been curious to understand what winemaker Terrance Leighton means when he says his aged wines have “umami,” take Kalin out for a test drive. One taste, and it will open your mind to a unique California wine experience.

Kalin Cellars is an artisanal, traditional enterprise at heart. Terry and Frances are literally the only “people between you and bottle.” (They don`t employ anyone to help out in the winery, and as a result never produce more than 7000 cases annually.) Terry is also a professor emeritus of microbiology at UC Berkeley and understands the science of winemaking better than most. They select specific strains of yeast to bring out the uniqueness of each vineyard site. They pioneered sur lie aging in America and were among the first to bottle their wines unfiltered, beginning with the 1981 vintage.

Like their peers in Europe, the Leightons` methods can, at times, seem unorthodox. They`ve been known to release vintages non-chronologically. Kalin may have been the only winery to release most of the `92 Chardonnays before the slower-evolving `91s since, says Terry, “We release what tastes good...every wine we offer is a library wine.” The Leightons also believe that the American public is ready for sediment — sometimes a lot of sediment — in their wines. “If it doesn’t have crud in the bottle, it isn`t Kalin,” Frances told Richard Nalley in Departures Magazine a few years ago.

Producer`s Notes:

Laughlin Vineyard is low-lying - directly on a tributary of the Russian River - and experiences a great deal of cloud cover throughout the growing season. Grown on alluvial soils, these 40-year old vines are trellised with vertical shoot positioning on a bi-lateral cordon. We nurture these vines through cultural practices such as shoot positioning, leaf removal and fruit thinning, to bring the clusters an optimal balance of sun, shade, and air flow which allows them to properly develop and mature. Generally ripening in mid to late September, we receive approximately 2.5 tons to the acre.

La Bellanotte is an artisan winery that encompasses eight hectares of vineyards situated between the Isonzo valley and Collio hills in Italy`s north eastern corner near the border with Slovenia. The Bellanotte vineyard holdings run contiguous to the vineyard holdings of the estate vineyards of Silvio Jermann.

La Bellanotte produces a full range of white and red wines, along with a ethereal and definitive example of the extremely rare Picolit desert wine. The all estate grown vineyards are all hand harvested with careful bunch selection in the winery and encompass the DOC sub zones of Collio and Isonzo. Careful vineyard management and quality focused, viticultural practices prepare the grapes for a cold pre-fermentation and maceration, which helps to extract the extraordinary, aromatic components found in the Fruili zone. The wines are made under the watchful eye of renowned, consulting oenologist, Andrea di Maio.

The La Favorite distillery, built in 1842, originally employed a water wheel to power the cane-crushing mills, the first step in sugar production. At that time the estate included two sugar refineries and a small rum distillery with five fermentation vats, a small boiler and copper pot still. Bankruptcy in 1875, followed by the hurricane of 1891 closed the estate until 1909 when Henri Dormoy purchased the property. Dormoy built a railway through the plantation to transport fresh cane from the surrounding countryside to the distillery where he installed a new distillation column and steam engine.

During World War I the new distillery produced alcohol used in explosives manufacture. In 1920, Henri Dormoy built the Chateau de La Favorite, and launched La Favorite rhum in France. Following his death in 1938, André Dormoy steered the growing company as head of the family business. Today, Paul Dormoy is the third generation to continue the tradition of quality on which his grandfather rebuilt this historic estate. In 2004, an additional copper distillation column was installed to increase quality production. Aging capacity has also been increased to meet the growing demand for artisan rhum agricole from small family distilleries where quality is the key to success in a competitive market place.

Lancelot-Royer

Surrounded by 100% grand cru vineyards, the tiny Champagne village of Cramant is a hidden gem—which is exactly why we are devoted fans to the petite family estate of Lancelot-Royer.

Domaine Lancelot-Royer nurtures its great vineyards in the heart of this chalky, terroir-driven town, and since the 1960s has been crafting vinous Champagne from 100% Chardonnay grapes.  We`ve been working with family winemaker Michel Chauvet since the early 1990s, who too shares our uncompromising vision for quality Champagne.

Our selection, the non-vintage “Cuvée des Chevaliers,” is a 100% Chardonnay wine that is aged much longer on its lees (on average 3 1/2 years) than the family`s regular blend. This process gives the wine added complexity, texture and breathtaking depth—with just a few opalescent strands of tiny bubbles.

One of the oldest Champagne Houses, Lanson was founded in 1760 by Francois Delamotte, a magistrate from Reims. The values and expertise that created the unique and enduring style of Champagne Lanson have been handed down from generation to generation. Since 1760, this has been the guiding philosophy of the successive generations that have promoted Lanson throughout the world.

Centuries in the dedicated pursuit of perfection have established the House of Lanson as one of the premier champagne makers. Today, the marriage of a contemporary dynamism with age-old tradition brings pleasure to millions the world over.

The beautiful cellars in the Rue de Courlancy were acquired in the early 1900s. These developments proved highly successful and during the late 19th Century, Lanson was supplying champagne by royal appointment to the courts of the United Kingdom, Sweden and Spain.

This success has continued throughout the 20th Century and today the same ambitious spirit to conquer new markets has established Lanson as a Grande Maison worldwide.

Laurent Barth

Most producers in Montepulciano, Vino Nobile and Rosso di Montepulciano are moving in an "international" direction with the inclusion of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the grape blend along with the use of new, French oak "barriques". Le Bertille follows traditional, time honored; wine making techniques with aging done in old, Slavonian oak casks followed by an extended period of must maceration. The grape varieties cultivated, traditional to the Montepulciano area, are the prugnolo gentile (the local name for Sangiovese), Ciliegiolo, Colorino, Canaiolo and Mammolo for their Rosso di Montepulciano. Fastidious management of their estate grown vineyards, summer pruning, bunch thinning and extreme, selective harvesting allows for a limited but singularly, high quality production.

From robust Côtes-du-Rhône to memorable Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Clos du Caillou wines arguably represent some of the finest red blends in all of France. Proprietor Sylvie Vacheron and winemaker Bruno Gaspard are keeping the great work of the late Jean-Denis Vacheron alive with wines that are heady, robust and mouth-wateringly lush.

Caillou tends wonderfully old Grenache vines, some of which are 70 to 100 years old. With older Syrah and Mourvèdre added to the mix, it`s no wonder that Caillou wines are across the board impressive for their power, extract and deep minerality. Caillou`s Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards border impressive plots at Chateau Rayas and Beaucastel.

Yet many of the Vacheron-Pouizin family`s old vines are classified, by a quirk of 1923 politics, Côtes-du-Rhône and Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages. It`s why our Côtes-du-Rhône barrel selections show surprisingly like its kin in Châteauneuf-du-Pape--as the terroir is, in both style and substance, the same as neighboring Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards.

Producer`s Notes:

WHAT IS LIOCO?
LIOCO is the result of a years-long conversation between Matt Licklider (a seasoned wine import specialist) and Kevin O`Connor (wine director at Michelin Two-Star Spago-Beverly Hills) about whether California could produce a true "wine of origin."

WHAT IS LIOCO`S FOCUS?
+ Stainless-steel (un-oaked), naturally-fermented (all native yeast) Chardonnay from pedigreed growers.
+ Gently treated (low wood impact), naturally-fermented (all native yeast) Pinot Noir from pedigreed growers.
+ A distinctly Californian blend of "under-dog" varietals (including Old-Vine Carignan, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Mourvedre).

WHAT IS LIOCO`S CORE BELIEF?
Careful vineyard selection combined with a restrained winemaking approach will produce compelling wine.

WHAT IS LIOCO`S PHILOSOPHY?
+ Great wine is grown, not made.
+ Maximize control of the creative process, "from bud to bottle."
+ Grace and balance before power.
+ Be dynamic and demystifying at every turn.
+ Over-deliver for the price point.

WHAT IS LIOCO`S CREDO?
"Building wine from the ground up."

WHAT DISTINGUISHES LIOCO FROM OTHER WINERIES?
+ We produce a range of wines, from multiple grape varieties growing in several distinct appellations (Chardonnay in Sonoma; Pinot Noir in Chalone; Carignan in Mendocino).
+ Our unique production process. We buy fruit from independent growers throughout California and make the wine in a state-of-the-art cooperative in Santa Rosa. We do not own any vineyards, nor do we own a winery. All of our resources are directed toward the sourcing of grapes from the state`s premier vineyards.

Maipe was the Lord of the Winds for the ancient Andean people.  Argentineans still invoke his name to clear the skies after a heavy rain or to temper the summer heat.  These wines, children of the Sun and the Winds, are produced from grapes grown at the foothills of the Andes Mountains at an altitude of 3,000 feet above sea level.  The intense color and aromas capture the expression of the soils that gave them birth.

Maipe is produced in a state-of-the-art winery, Chakana, built with the purpose of achieving outstanding quality.

Chakana winery was founded by Juan Pelizzatti on May 2nd, 2002. Juan was driven to enter the wine industry first and foremost by his passion for wine, and also by the desire to invest his time and money on a product of agriculture. Although Juan did not know it at the time, the company was founded on the same day the Chakana was celebrated on the Andes highlands: on that same day, the Southern Cross (the Chakana for the Inca people) becomes vertical in the night Andean sky.

Juan`s mission is to create an integral experience to introduce world consumers to the taste and culture of the Andes. His vision is to become one of the top 20 exporters of wine from Argentina, by consistently offering outstanding value for money.

In 2003, Alix and Étienne created a micro business – `Deux Montille, Sœur-Frère`, a `haute couture` wine house that buys mostly white wine grapes to complement the largely red production of the domaine. The style and the quality are identical to the philosophy of terroir defended by the domaine. They aspire to offer white wines with the same cachet as the wines of the domaine. They only buy grapes they harvest themselves and then vinify using their `homemade` know-how. About 5,000 cases are produced over 12 appellations, some well-known, others ready to be discovered, like Rully, Montangy, Pernand-Vergelesses and Auxey-Duresses.

Dolin Vermouths are notably lighter, drier and less pungent than their larger commercial counterparts. The particular mixture of plants found near Chambéry give a fresh, restrained and elegant nose, with a subtle, complex bittersweet palate. Even the Blanc and Rouge retain great balance, with the sugar never cloying, and just enough bitterness to whet the appetite. Each can be enjoyed as aperitif on ice, with a twist of citrus, or in a broad array of traditional cocktails.

Dolin produces their Vermouth in Chambéry itself. Once the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, this bustling mountain town is now the commercial center of the French Alps. In addition to the Vermouth, Dolin is as well known today for their Genepi liqueur (made from a famed botanical of the Grand Chartreuse range) which is a longstanding tradition of the alpine resorts of the region.

The history of Mas Amiel is colorful, chock-full of gamblers, snake-oil charmers and whole lot of rocks. A certain Monsieur Amiel some two hundred years ago sat down at a game of cards with a few other well-placed individuals. When he left the table, he found himself richer by one, very large Maury estate (about 350 acres) in the Côtes du Roussillon—won, surprisingly, from the Archbishop of Perpignan.

To Monsieur Amiel at the time, the darkest corners of hell might have looked more inviting. No trees offered shade from the brutal southern sun. Any wealth Maury might be able to offer seemed evident only in its abundance of rocks. Eager to make something of his winnings, Amiel started to make bread at the domaine. Then one day, a slick-talking salesman by the name of Gouzy convinced Amiel to plant Grenache vines in the area`s stony soils.

Gouzy knew Maury was in fact a paradise for Grenache. Yet Amiel and his partner lost the domaine long before they could experience it. The domaine changed hands to a banker named Dupuy, who nurtured the vines and Mas Amiel to greatness.

Fast-forward many decades and Mas Amiel is today sought by Paris` top sommeliers and cherished by wine connoisseurs who recognize that what`s created in these rocky, forbidding hills can be replicated nowhere else on earth.

Owner and winemaker Olivier Decelle since 2000 has made it his personal mission to make over this legendary estate, with a renewed focus on dry wines (red and white) in addition to the estate’s historic fortified wines. Mas Amiel is also now completely dedicated to organic agriculture.
 
The estate`s traditional fortified wines are produced through a unique process that creates concentrated and complex wines with an almost immortal character.  Wines are first fermented then alcohol is added to stop fermentation (leaving some residual sugar behind in the wine).  The wines are then stored outside in glass demi-johns—a traditional aging process that produces oxidized notes and orange highlights in the wines.  They are then aged in large oak casks for six to 15 years.

Importer`s Notes:

Our good friends Luc and Lucienne Cartier (and their talented daughter, Eve) have for decades quietly and consistently crafted the finest wines in the gorgeous countryside of Provence.

These 100% certified organic, southern French wines are now better than ever—we like to call the Provence in a bottle—and with recent vintages Mas has definitely sealed its position as the leading estate in the region. It was one of the first estates to "go" organic in the 1970s; and today is is one of the remaining, completely family-owned wineries in the region.

Mas de Gourgonnier`s appellation is in a little-known region called Les Baux de Provence, located due south from some of the southern Rhône`s superstars, most notably Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The shimmering perfume of garrigue wafts over Mouriés, an ancient hamlet shaded by stately olive trees and surrounded by neat rows of sun-baked vineyards. Mas wines share all the depth and concentration of great Rhône and Bordeaux wines, yet capture an added beauty and spice only found in the bucolic hills of Provence.

Robust Grenache, sweet Syrah, muscular Mourvèdre and old-vine Carignan (all grapes that love a heatwave just as much as the next Provençal tourist) are just some of the varietals that make up all of Mas` outstanding offerings. The Mas de Gourgonnier Rouge (packed in its rustic, bulbous bottle) and all Mas wines are unmistakable—and always amazingly affordable.

The Mas de Gourgonnier Rosé is a blend of Grenache, Cinsaut, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cabernet. Lightly blushed and very dry, it is a perfect companion to Provençal cuisine. The Mas de Gourgonnier Rouge is the domaine`s regular blend, a spicy, Rhône-inspired wine made up of traditional varietals: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, plus Cabernet Sauvignon, old-vine Carignane and Cinsault. Depending on the vintage, the proportions of these varietals change.

The Mas de Gourgonnier Reserve typically mirrors the Rouge in composition (usually a heart of Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre) yet spends more time in barrel for more structure. The Reserve is an incredibly age-worthy wine, and will amply reward with time in the cellar.

Maurice Ecard

The Domaine dates back to before 1789 and produces some of the best Premiers Crus in Savigny. Owner Maurice Ecard, who is now retired, was considered by many experts to be the father of the appellation.
His wines are now produced by Vincent Sauvestere. Vincent`s paternal family has been firmly established in Meursault since the 18th Century. His father and grandfather were both "Maîtres de Chais" for one of the most prestigious Wine Houses in the heart of Meursault. Vincent`s father, Roger, created his own company in the early fifties with the acquisition of a Wine Merchant founded in 1891.  He also had his own vines, inherited from his mother.  In 1988, Roger handed over the running of the company to Vincent.   When Vincent, born in Nuits Saint Georges in 1961, took control of the Domaine, it consisted of only 6 hectares (14.81 acres) of vines.  Today the Domaine covers 40 hectares (98.77 acres) from Chablis to Meursault.  In addition, Vincent has acquired other viticultural Domaines in Chablis, the Côte Chalonnaise and recently in the Rhône Valley.
The Domaine is proud to possess
two Grand Cru wines, Corton Charlemagne & Corton Maréchaudes, as well as twelve Premiers Cru wines. Through his family`s traditional winemaking skills, passed down from generation to generation, and his years of oenological studies, Vincent now advocates:
° Expression of the unique terroir characteristics from each individual vineyard by using traditional winemaking methods.
° Well structured and easy drinking Burgundies :
- pleasing to the eye
- soft and supple flavors
- lingering aftertaste with excellent ageing attributes.
Vincent`s constant aim is quality and respect for all wines.

The Vineyard
The domaine is cultivated through organic methods and produces wines that purely and distinctly reflect the terroir. The Premiers Crus include: "Narbantons", "Jarrons", "Serpentières", "Peuillets" and "Les Clous". The yields are never over 35 hl/ha. The vines are pruned and, when fully mature, harvested by manual selection. Vinification involves 75 to 100% destemming, a classic fermentation, pigeage, racking of the gross lees, 15-18 months in oak (15% new from Damy).

Mesa
Michel Ecard

The wines of Savigny-les-Beaune are an exciting secret for true lovers of Pinot Noir—here high quality and value comes hand in hand, especially at a top family domaine such as Domaine Michel Ecard.

2005 was an auspicious year for Michel Ecard. Not only was it a remarkable vintage for Burgundy, but also it was his first vintage, independent from the family domaine. His father, Maurice Ecard retired in 2005. Yet as is all too often the case in Burgundy, the shift from one generation to another can be less than smooth. Rather than struggle with siblings over vineyard rights, Michel decided to pursue his dream on his own.

Yet the tradition of the family Ecard is very much alive and well. With a lifetime of winemaking experience at his father`s side in Savigny, not to mention stints at wineries around the world, Michel Ecard has more than ably continued his father`s great legacy, crafting wines that honor his style and touch with Pinot Noir. Tastings their wines side by side, you`d be hard-pressed to identify which cuvée belonged to whom—the passion, the precision, and the purity of Savigny is all there.

Today Ecard and his wife, Joanna, are a two-person winery, crafting all their wines by hand. During a recent visit, Ecard joked that he never has any mechanical problems with equipment as it`s all made of wood—down to his hand-cranked wine press. His vineyards (owned by his uncle) are as well placed as his father`s, if not potentially better tended—these plots contain on average older vines, and exposures as well as soils are ideal. All wines are gravity bottled, and you`ll find but a trace of sulfur in Ecard Burgundy. “The flavor always comes from the terroir,” he explained.

Michel Ecard wines, like his father`s, are incredibly natural—each cuvée tastes as if the grapes were just picked. And considering what little sulfur he adds, their cellar life is more than impressive. Ecard always keeps a few older vintages of “Serpentières” on hand (cuvées he made side-by-side with his dad), just to show people the potential of Savigny. Yet there`s even more potential now that Michel is on the scene—continuing the great tradition of Ecard wines, yet raising the bar even higher.

Good things don`t stay secret for very long.  Our first year of importing Michel Rey`s wines was in 2001, and we brought in just 50 cases of his Macon-Vergisson "La Roche." The cases disappeared overnight.

Rey was mentored by one of Vergisson`s top winemakers, Daniel Barraud.  The two share a similar personal style; modest in speech and humble in approach, their wines nevertheless speak volumes about their individual talents in both the fields and the cellar.  Rey for us is an insider`s choice in Vergisson, and one worth seeking out on both quality and price.

Rey`s tiny cellar, with a fantastic view of both the roche de Vergisson and the roche du Solutre, two of Vergisson`s most unmistakable landmarks and the rocks that give white wine here its mineral zest and character, can hold barely a dozen barrels.  Tucked in here you`ll find a not only his outstanding "La Roche," but two micro-production Pouilly-Fuissé wines and a St.-Veran. Rey is truly a microproducer, with just 1,000 cases a year.

Rey also crafts a small-production very old vine Juliénas, a vineyard owned by his wife Eve`s family.

Montebuena

In the mid-1960s, 70% of the winegrowers (175 vintners) decided to join forces and found the Unión de Cosecheros of Labastida, which currently ranks as the largest co-operative winery in the Basque Country, with a production capacity of 7 million liters. Right from the outset, these winegrowers wanted to be involved in the entire process, from cultivating vineyards to barrel-ageing wine to bottling. Towards this end, the co-op has established its own brands and striven to enhance its facilities, equipping them with the most modern equipment available, as with its stainless steel tanks, a cooling unit for regulating fermentation temperatures and new bottling plant.

The ageing of wines has always been one of this winery`s passions and primary concerns. At present, the co-op has 6,000 American oak casks in storage, with an average age of five years.

From the beginning, Suvereto`s challenge to Bolgheri—as Tuscany`s premier source of Super Tuscans—has come from just two adjacent estates: Tua Rita and Montepeloso.

The properties enjoy two of the best terroirs in Italy: Montepeloso on a gentle hillside of chalky gravel and clay, and Tua Rita in heavier clay below. Climatically warmer than interior Tuscany—and possessing a marked similarity to St. Emilion`s famed Côtes—this locale naturally limits yields and is capable of producing wines with great concentration and perfume.

Under the guidance of the original owners, Willi and Doris Neukom, Montepeloso established itself as one of Tuscany`s most exciting estates, earning 5 stars from Robert Parker.

A Momentous Change. In 1998, however, the estate was sold to Fabio Chiarelotto, a Swiss-Italian historian. Chiarelotto was entranced with the Neukom`s wines, but he was also convinced that they fell short of the terroir`s true potential.

While a unique site is important for great wine, an inspired winemaker is also required. The introspective Chiarelotto had little interest in the guidance of fashionable enologists. He was determined to follow his own path— and he brought with him a clear vision of the singular wines he felt the estate could yield.

His obsession is such that we find few others with which to compare him. The person he most reminds us of is the great Montalcino iconoclast, Gianfranco Soldera. Like Soldera, Chiarelotto remains driven by his own philosophies, posssessing an obsessive commitment to quality, with an apparent disinterest in what others think of him or his wines.

The Evolution of a Dream. Within a year of the purchase, Chiarelotto embarked on a dramatic overhaul of the vineyards— retraining or regrafting thousands of vines. He was willing to accept drastically reduced production for a few years if it would result in greater wines.

In the cellar, Chiarelotto sought ways to soften the tannins, refine the aromatics, and better integrate the oak. With each succeeding vintage, he is getting closer to his ideal.

The Wines. Slowly, Chiarelotto is receiving the rewards of his passion. The buzz that has been spreading through Europe over the past few years has lept the Atlantic. A growing number of collectors see Montepeloso`s wines as the most beautiful, profound, and expressive of the Tuscan New Wave.

Moroder is in a gorgeous setting, in the middle of Conero National Park, just 5 km from the Adriatic Sea and the glorious “Mount Conero”. Marco and Alessandro Moroder are passionate viticulturists, and their incredible situation imposes a duty to use low impact, sustainable farming practices. The property encompasses 36 hectares of vines, plus additional land devoted to organic gardens, olive groves, livestock, and a black truffle plantation! to supply their locally famous restaurant (“Aión”) on the property. From this property Moroder harvests Montepulciano (first in the zone to fashion wine from monovarietal Montepulciano) plus a smidgeon of Moscato for Bian Conero, Cab and Merlot for “Ankón” (inspired by family friend and internationally renowned enologist Franco Barnabei), Sangiovese and Alicante. In the next year or so look for organic certification.

The vineyards lie in a perfect, South-east/South/South-west facing amphitheater. The DOC Rosso Conero encompasses a mere 350 Ha in total and lies entirely within the Monte Conero National Park. And the wines - though predominantly red - pair perfectly, perfectly with the abundant local seafood. Red wine and fish. Give it a try.

The magical pull of Etna—Sicily`s active volcano and the hottest winemaking region in Italy today—has attracted a lot of Johnny-come-latelies.  Not that this group of artisans aren`t incredibly talented people, but whether from Tuscany, New Zealand or Australia, few winemakers that have come to the island can claim very deep roots. 

The Scammacca del Murgo family, however, may be of the few winemaking families who can claim longer, deeper Etna roots than even the oldest Nerello Mascalese vines.

For more than 100 years this family has cared for olive and fruit trees, crafted fine olive oils and jams, and nurtured Etna`s native grape, Nerello Mascalese, under the Etna`s looming shadow.   Yet it`s only been since 1980 that the family decided to bottle their own wines.  And it`s no small family: the Scammacca del Murgo clan extends over three generations, and the current generation (eight children!) are all involved in both preserving, and triumphing, the endless beauty of Nerello Mascalese on Etna.

Founded in 1931 by Jean and Adrien Neisson, the smallest distillery on Martinique has enjoyed considerable success due in large part to a unique combination of rich volcanic soil, plentiful sunshine and a family’s dedication to fine rhum. Today, Grégory Vernant, Jean Neisson’s grandson, continues the passionate work of making Neisson Rhum Agricole.

From only 40 hectares of sugar cane fields located on what is known as the Habitation Thieubert, near the coastal town of Carbet, only about 400,000 liters of Rhum Neisson are produced annually. In the last decade the distillery has undergone extensive modernization including a new Savalle-type copper distillation column, stainless-steel fermentation vats and the acquisition of large, new French oak vats in which the rhum rests before it is bottled. Hundreds of small French and American oak barrels have also been added to the aging inventory in an effort to meet the increasing demand for this much sought-after rhum.

All of the Neisson rhum exported to the US is distilled, aged and bottled at the distillery.
Nicodemi

Importer`s Notes:

Prepare yourself for a bold statement, and one that should be taken as a challenge. Here it is: If you don`t know the wines of Nicodemi, then you haven`t truly discovered the best Italy has to offer.

We know you know Barolo and Barbaresco, Bolgheri and Brunello. Yet let`s set aside this “B” team for just a moment, and focus on Abruzzo. Sure, few can find it on a map; the name Montepulciano may make you think first of a town in Tuscany. The key here is that Abruzzo is home to Nicodemi—a family winery that without question deserves to be named in the same breath with Italy`s, if not the world`s, finest wine estates.

Fattoria Nicodemi is located in the Teramo district in Abruzzo, a hilly province bordering the Adriatic sea in central Italy. It was founded by Bruno Nicodemi, and today is run by brother and sister team Alessandro and Elena Nicodemi. High up in these chalky, clay-rich hills, the Nicodemi estate couldn`t be better located—and any more different than bulk producers in the Abruzzo lowlands. The family`s vineyards, at more than 900 feet above sea level, enjoy a slow cook, with warm afternoons and cool evenings. “We try to work in a simple way,” says Elena, to let the estate`s terroir speak clearly; all field work, including the harvest, is done by hand.

The estate`s wines can be divided into three groups. Their Montepulciano d`Abruzzo and Trebbiano d`Abruzzo wines represent fruit-forward, single-varietal bottlings that are both rich in flavor and represent great value. (Cerasuolo is the estate`s rosé; the name refers to the wine`s deep blush, which is called “cirasce” in Abruzzo dialect, meaning cherry-colored.)

The “Notàri” wines are a step up, a selection of superior fruit at harvest that is then aged in a combination of tank and barrek, and bottled separately.

“Neromoro” is the estate`s top wine, crafted only in exemplary years. The vineyard, planted by Bruno Nicodemi, is one of the few vineyards to retain the “tendone” system of trellising. The vine stalk grows tall, from five to six feet, and its branches are spread on wires overhead. Grapes are thus shaded by leaves and left to hang freely, aerating the bunches and keeping them healthy. Vines are more than 40 years old; wine is aged 100% in new oak barrels. It is a wine that can age tremendously.

Noëlla Morantin

After abandoning a career in advertising for a life in wine, Noella Morantin staged with Agnes and Rene Mosse in Anjou. This led to a job as cellar master at Domaine Bois Lucas, an estate in the Touraine adjacent to the Clos Roche Blanche owned by Junko Arai, a Japanese importer. In 2009, Noella began leasing 8.5 hectare of vineyards (with the goal of eventually purchasing them) from Didier Barrouillet and Catherine Roussell, owners of Clos Roche Blanche. These extraordinarily well-tended vineyards are gems in the natural wine pantheon as they have been organic (under CRB) for years.

Noella now rents space at Clos Roche Blanche and cellars her wines at a nearby farm. Noella`s goal is to work as naturally as possible, favoring natural yeasts, long macerations and extended fermentations as well as minimal use of sulphur.

Occhipinti is located in Vittoria, in the southwestern corner of Sicily, and winemaker Arianna Occhipinti`s reputation seems to grow with every vintage. Her first vintage was 2004, though it wasn`t until 2005 that her wines were internationally distributed. Arianna has a total of 10 hectares of Nero d`Avola and Frappato vines that, since April of 2009, have been farmed using biodynamic methods, which she believes has added to the overall expression of the soil. The grapes, planted largely on chalky soils, are trained using albarello or guyot and are left to vigorously grow leaves so as to maintain freshness. Fermentation for Frappato takes place in stainless steel while the Nero d`Avola is fermented in large plastic tubs though her goal is to eventually ferment everything in cement. Maceration for the Nero d`Avola is 30-40 days and longer for the Frappato.

Founded in 1904, Palacio de Fefinanes is housed inside a spectacular baronial palace which sits on the lovely main square of coastal Cambados. The facility was built in 1647 by vicount of Fefiñanes Gonzalo Sarmiento Valladares (1583-1659) and is currently owned by Juan Gil Careaga. Palacio de Fefiñanes was the first producer to bottle wine under the D.O. Rías Baixas denomination. The label design dates from 1928 and shows an engraving of the Fefiñanes Palace.
The winemaker is Cristina Mantilla.

"Clean, mineral-laced Albariños from a producer housed in a baronial palace."
- Anthony Dias Blue`s pocket guide to wine 2006

Produced in the Rias Baixas region, where the vineyards are quite windy due to the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean. It also provides acidity and freshness to the wine. The winery has only a token acreage, and buys its Albariño grapes from producers under long-term contract and with technical assistance from the winery`s enologist. They make two 100% Albariño wines: Albariño de Fefiñanes, a young traditional style Rías Baixas white (30,000 bottles/year); and 1583 Albariño de Fefiñanes, aged six months in 600 liter sherry butts (4,000 bottles/year - annual production: 100,000 liters). Year after year, local critics rate Albariño de Fefiñanes as one of the best.

Producer`s Notes:

In 2005, entrepreneurs Tim Perr and Scott Knight pooled their resources and their passions to found a winery dedicated to producing small lots of artisan Pinot Noir that they loved to drink.

We established a state-of-the-art winery and tasting room in the town of Lompoc, CA and named the winery “Pali,” after our hometown Pacific Palisades on the coast just west of Los Angeles. Today, Pali Wine Co. produces a Cuvee series of wines defined by their appellation of origin and named for different neighborhoods in the Pacific Palisades. We also produce a very limited amount of vineyard-designate wines. 

Our goal is to make wines that speak well of their origin and their varietal, and to bring those wines to the consumer at the best price we can without compromising quality. While Pinot Noir remains our first love and a significant part of our production, we also produce a few other varietals when we have the opportunity to make a wine we think is worthy of sharing.

Panevino

Importer`s Notes:

“Pane e vino” in Italian means “bread and wine.” Gianfranco Manca was raised a baker. At an early age he took over his uncle`s bakery and baked the classic Sardinian breads that he learned to make from his mother and aunts. Their bread is still prized in his town and the bakery was a success. With the bakery there also came some plots of land with some very old vines that had somehow remained although practically neglected for years. They were trained in albarello (goblet), the traditional back-braking low-growing system used on the islands of Italy, and were very diverse with over 30 different grapes, but mainly cannonau. Since he was already an expert at fermentation with bread, Gianfranco believed the natural progression would be to understand wine fermentation with the help of these vines. He set about rehabilitating the old vines and planted a parcel of new vines of monica and carignano del sulcis, the local strain of the famous grape. He started making wine in the mid 80`s, but it wasn`t until 2005 that he was ready to put a label on it and offer his interpretation to the rest of the world.

What do you say about a winemaker whose self-professed greatest influences are Bob Dylan and Jesus? Gianfranco is a rare soul in the wine business. He is an empath/winemaker. First, his love for the vines is so strong that he says he feels a particular relationship with each one. Furthermore, he thinks the vines tell him what to do with the grapes. He has been working these vines for a long time now, so I can imagine some deeper understanding of one`s vineyards comes through with that much time. Whether there is really a dialog happening is anyone`s guess. But as proof, Gianfranco has stylistically changed the wines from the cannonau grapes for the past 4 years. He has also changed their names to reflect the stylistic differences from year to year, always reflecting a personal point of view on the vintage through the new name. In 2005 the wine was called Perdacoddura and it was above 15.5%, a big, brawny wine. In 2006, the expression of the same wine was called Mariposa and at a little above 14% was the results of a search for the more elegant and seductive side to the grape. In 2007, a very good harvest, it is called `Ogu – which means 1. fuoco – fire 2. occhio – eye 3. occhio – bud and at 14.5% represents something more ideal for Gianfranco. It is wine born of fire (there was a raging wildfire that year that stopped literally at the next hill over from his vineyards and house) and it is through this wine which Gianfranco presents his vision and through which the world sees him.

Gianfranco only rarely makes bread these days (mostly classes and demonstrations for children and young adults) but when he does, he must be very carefully with clothing and hygiene to keep the two cultures of yeast from intermingling.

 

Producer`s Notes:

Our family owned winery – Paper Road – is located in the Opaki wine region of the northern Wairarapa. Originally planned as a road in the 1890`s – the road our vineyard sits on was never developed and only ever existed on local maps as a Paper Road.

At Paper Road we take `do it yourself` to the next level. Not only do we tend to the grapes we planted the vines and dug the post holes. Not only do we make the wine we built the winery and the press. Not only do we sell the wine we built the cellar door and the bar. Not only do we distribute the wine but we also drink it...

Pascal Cotat

Importer`s Notes:

From gear head, to grape man. While Pascal Cotat`s first passion may have been restoring old cars, wine—especially his family`s Sauvignon Blanc—was a fast second.

No one can doubt that winemaking runs in the blood of the Cotat family. On the slopes of the Monts Damnés in Chavignol, the family has tended both Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir since the end of the second World War. It was only in the 1990s when two brothers, Paul and Francis, handed over the family domaine to their sons, François and Pascal, respectively. Today there are two Cotat domaines—one in Chavignol, headed by François, and one in Sancerre, run by Pascal. What sets these cousins apart is less important than what they share—a passion for natural winemaking and a truly amazing touch with Sauvignon Blanc.

Pascal believes in natural winemaking—the vast majority of his plots are cared for organically, often combining seaweed and other natural preparations to fertilize his vines. Harvest is never rushed; in fact, Pascal (as does his cousin François) harvests more than a week after every other winery in the region. Needless to say, extra maturity on the vine means extra body and complexity in the wine. Vineyards are located on very steep slopes, requiring a hand harvest that has become a bit of a pilgrimage for Cotat devotees. The steepest plots can only be worked by sliding down with a cushion tied to your rear while you hold the bucket in front of you. The cousins invented this amusing system, and pickers come from all over Europe every year to volunteer for the harvest.

Grapes from each vineyard plot are vinified separately. The Cotat family pioneered single-vineyard bottlings in Sancerre, and each terroir—whether “Les Monts Damnés” or “Grande Côte”—has its own unique personality. Soils share the same chalky heart as do those in Chablis. In general Pascal wines show a more luxurious, plush mouthfeel in combination with this balanced acidity. (François wines, in comparison, often show more flinty, Chablis-like notes.) Wines are always bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Cotat`s wines truly benefit from age. While these wines are irresistible when they are young, one of the unique pleasures of putting down a few bottles is to later discover a rich, custard-like Sancerre that defies everything you would expect from racy Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

Paul Durdilly

Peirson Meyer is a new venture between the creators of L`Angevin Wines, the Peirson Family and the Meyer Family. The inaugural release (2005 vintage) of Peirson Meyer Chardonnay is a departure from the previous work winegrowers Alan Peirson and Robbie Meyer have done with their vineyard and appellation designated wines.

This particular Chardonnay is a demonstration in the art of blending. Choosing from the barrels that ultimately make up the Charles Heintz, Laughlin Family, and Russian River Valley Chardonnays, Robbie and Alan carefully selected individual barrels that would offer unique expression not necessarily shown in the individual blends that clearly represent the given vineyards. This is more an expression of what Chardonnay can offer rather than what a particular vineyard can. From the great minerality, characteristic of the best Burgundies, to the beauty of pure California fruit in the aroma, as well as a viscous mouthfeel balanced by a focused finish, this wine is a demonstration of what can be found hidden in the broader complexities of the traditional wines of L`Angevin.

Robert Parker writes:
"It`s hard to believe that Alan Peirson and Robbie Meyer, the creators of L`Angevin`s wines, have been doing this for nine years. These excellent offerings rarely get the press they deserve. Under a companion label, Peirson-Meyer, small lot wines are produced, all of which are impressive." — The Wine Advocate, February 2010

Pierre Gaillard is one of the most capable craftsmen in the northern Rhône, and the true source of wines from the region`s most dynamic, yet still virtually unknown, terroirs.

Gaillard is one of those artisans who never tires, driven by both his passion for greatness as well as the sheer pleasure of creation.  After years training under Maurice Guigal, Gaillard started off on his own with just a few small plots in St. Joseph.

His terroir savvy (and economic smarts) found him scouting out vineyards in Côte Rôtie, many of which had long been abandoned. During one visit we were invited out to one of his plots; watching Gaillard scale what resembled more a cliff than bucolic vineyard, we politely declined and remained in the safety of the cellar.  Billy goat or vigneron?  One needs to be both to make true Côte Rôtie, and there`s no question that Gaillard had the energy, and vision, to see his vision through.

We import three individual Gaillard Côte-Rôtie barrel selection bottlings. His "Les Viallieres" shows spicy fruit, with good power and finesse; his "Cote Rozier," right next to the famed "La Landonne," is midnight colored, structured and good for the cellar; "Le Cret" is very aromatic with added Viognier.

Gailard also crafts an outstanding red St.-Joseph, a number of Viogniers and a Roussanne from the Condrieu, St.-Joseph, and Vin de Pays appellations. All our selections are unfiltered, and spend less time in new oak than Gaillard`s own bottlings.

Nerello Mascalese—the little black grape from the town of Mascali, on the coast—has for over a century been cultivated on the jet-black volcanic slopes of Mount Etna. Practically every family on the mountain had a handful of gnarled vines; homemade wine was enjoyed with family alongside local meat and produce.

After World War II, however, these precious vineyards were abandoned in droves. It wasn`t until the early 1990s when Italy`s young winemakers rediscovered Etna`s ancient vines, and reveled in the possibility of reviving a unique grape that had been practically lost.

Winemaker Michele Faro remembers his grandfather making Nerello. The wine`s delicate aromas, the lively gatherings around the family table, how well the wine paired with local foods. Michele`s inspiration for Pietradolce was to connect the past to the present—to bring back the pleasure of Nerello in all its complexity and delicacy—and place it back in the pantheon of great wines, where it belongs.

The estate`s modest seven acres of vines on the northern face of Etna include ancient rootstock—some from 60 to 80 years old—at more than 2,000 feet above sea level. The soils of Etna are striking—as black as midnight, the soils are pure volcanic lava, soft and mineral-rich. Vines are cared for naturally (no pesticides or herbicides) and all work is done by hand.

The “Archineri” Etna Rosso is a 100% Nerello Mascalese wine, harvested by hand from older vines that grow 2,000 feet above sea level in Etna`s pitch-black volcanic soils. It is fermented in tank, and then aged in a mix of new and older large barrels.

Poderi del Paradiso is one of the top producers in San Gimignano, the city of eternal towers. The winemaking here is unparalleled, guided by enologist Paolo Caciorgna—himself a native of San Gimignano, just like the Cetti family who run the estate. This family since practically the Middle Ages has tended vines at the foot of this immortal city.

Paradiso is unique in that the Cetti family has not only dedicated themselves to preserving the beauty and glory of San Gimignano`s classic white wine, Vernaccia, but also pioneering a family of red wines based on the native Tuscan Sangiovese Grosso.

It is a tribute to the winemaking savvy and terroir smarts of this estate to recognize that the family`s amphitheatre-shaped vineyard—located at the foot of San Gimignano—could be a perfect spot for Sangiovese.  The shape of the plot essentially gathers the sun like a basin, delivering pure energy into every berry. The volcanic soils, blended with clay, give Sangiovese plenty of minerality and structure too. It`s a breathtaking sight, as you stand at the back porch at the family estate, and follow the rows of Sangiovese through the bowl and right up the hill to the foot of the town`s towers.

With the expert guidance of Paolo Caciorgna—unquestionably one of Italy`s leading enologists—winemaking at Paradiso effortlessly melds tradition with the most modern methods.  Yields are vigorously controlled; all work is done by hand; wines are made in micro-quantities.

The estate Poggio Nardone has been founded in 1996 by Tiziano and Alessandra that, having found some manuscripts down their grandfather in which it wrote of this old place where the wine-dresser produced wine, they have tried to recreate it with their experience matured in the family estate.

The estate Poggio Nardone is partially situated in the both the southwest of Montalcino as well as in the area of Montiano near the coast of the Maremma Toscana.

"A tiny estate making classically styled Brunello with consistent quality; the wines have great balance and complexity." - Anthony Dias Blue`s pocket guide to wine 2006

Purkhart

Thierry Puzelat is the younger of the two brothers who run Clos du Tue Boeuf, their family estate in Les Montils. In the 90`s, the estate had to contend with several difficult years of tiny crops, caused by late frost, mildew, hail or general bad weather, and revenues were tight. Thierry would have liked to expand the estate, by renting or buying more vineyards. Jean-Marie, in his late forties, did not want to add more vineyard and cellar work to his already heavy schedule. So Thierry started a négociant business, set up a winery in the village of Monthou-sur-Bièvre, and sourced excellent vineyards and vinetenders to buy their grapes.

True to his conviction that good wine is made from healthy grapes, he has selected vine growers who farm their plots organically, in bio-dynamie for some. He now offers a range of local wines, both from Touraine and Cheverny.

One of his most reliable sources is an estate tended in bio-dynamie by a neighbor and friend of the owners of Clos Roche Blanche in the hamlet of La Tesnière in Touraine. From vines growing on a soil of clay with silex over hard limestone, Puzelat buys Chenin blanc, Menu Pineau and Pineau d`Aunis grapes at harvest time. Menu Pineau, also called Arbois, is an old Loire varietal that survives in some areas, but is rarely vinified on its own. Puzelat is very familiar with it since the Clos du Tue Boeuf grows some (Touraine Brin de Chèvre), and he likes the grape for its originality, its mineral and spicy character with apple and apricot pit aromas.

Pineau d`Aunis, sometimes called Pineau rouge, is another obscure, ancient varietal that survives in Touraine, most of the time used in blends with Cabernet franc to produce rosé. Even when vinified as a red wine, as is the case here, it is very light in color, body and alcohol and is deliciously refreshing, spicy, lively and aromatic.

For a hundred and thirty one years, three generations of the López de Heredia family have devoted themselves to producing exceptional and unique wines. Masterpieces which have achieved that which the founder of the company, Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta, defined in the late nineteenth century as the "Supreme Rioja".

Vineyard care, a scrupulous selection of grapes, ageing in oak barrels in the heart of deep underground galleries, and the later ageing in bottles, all contribute to making these illustrious wines with their exceptional bouquet.

Radio-Coteau works closely with select cool-climate coastal vineyard sites in Western Sonoma County and Anderson Valley to offer wines with vibrant, balanced fruit and a distinct sense of place. To craft unique expressions of sites and seasons, they focus on detailed and sustainable viticulture in conjunction with a natural, non-interventionalist approach in the cellar. They actively collaborate with their growers to enhance the character of each site by promoting vine balance and healthy soil. Allowing the wine to evolve naturally during vinification and elevage preserves the integrity of the vineyard and the vintage.

Radio-Coteau  adj. A colloquial expression suggesting “word of mouth.” Region: Northern Rhone. Literal Translation: broadcasting from the hillside.

Winegrower Eric Sussman first heard the expression radio coteau from a friend while living and working in Burgundy. More than a preference for how you discover these wines, the name reflects a commitment to capturing reflections of soil, seasons, people and place.

Rayun

Importer`s Notes:

Our selections from Rayun represent the finest quality wine Chile has to offer at value prices.  The know-how behind Rayun is exceptional—Chile`s leading winemaking talent, Alvaro Espinoza, personally selects the vineyards and supervises the vinification of each Rayun wine.  

We`re hardly exaggerating when we say that there`s nothing Espinoza can`t do.  He singlehandedly started a revolution in Chilean winemaking a decade ago with his dedication to organic and biodynamic viticulture.  He`s won more awards than his modest home in the Maipo Valley can hold; and he`s widely recognized as one of the leading winemakers in all of South America, let alone in Chile.  Espinoza explained that his work at Rayun is essentially an extension of what he`s done at his own world-class estate Antiyal—finding the right vineyard to best express the personality of each wine grape.

All Rayun wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks, to preserve freshness and their fruit-forward, approachable character.

Not counting the much larger Guigal domaine, René Rostaing is the closest thing to a true cult star that Côte-Rôtie has yet produced. A grower since 1971, his first vineyard purchases were a microscopic half acre each in Côte Blonde and in La Landonne on the Côte Brune.

The real breakthrough came when his father-in-law, Albert Dervieux-Thaize retired in 1990, followed by his uncle Marius Gentaz-Dervieux three years later. Between these two legendary growers, Rostaing acquired over ten acres of very old vines in some of the appellation`s top sites. The vineyard expansion also enabled René to quit his day job in 1991, and to devote himself full time to winemaking.

Riebeek Cellars was established in 1941 and is situated in Riebeek Kasteel at the foot of Bothma`s Kloof Pass. This medium-sized winery on the western coast of the Cape Province of South Africa sources its grapes from the fertile Riebeek Valley and the slopes of the mountain where the climate is very similar to the Mediterranean. Through the years as vineyard practices developed, cultivars were planted in soil and at slopes best suited to them. These well-tended vineyards enable the production of high quality wines which makes Riebeek Cellars the choice of wine buyers internationally. Well-known both in South Africa and abroad, Riebeek Cellars manages a variety of brands for various countries.

Heritage
Corporal Pieter Cruythoff, a scout of Jan van Riebeeck, founded the Riebeek Valley in 1661. Impressed by the single standing mountain, he called it Kasteelberg (“Castle Mountain”) commemorating the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, the fortress of Commander Jan van Riebeeck. The twin towns, Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West, established at the foot of Kasteelberg, are therefore also suitably named after Van Riebeeck.

The Riebeek Valley is a mecca of wonderful wines, exceptional food and exquisite art where tourists and locals alike are forever tempted into spending more time than allowed. The serene valley falls in the bigger Swartland region which is called the "bread basket" of South Africa for its grain production, while it is further internationally acclaimed for its high quality olive products. With various hotels and fine-dining restaurants as well as true country hospitality, the Riebeek Valley has become a very popular tourist destination. The ultimate charm of Riebeek is however in its people and their commitment and passion for wine.

The Roagna have been winemakers in the village of Barbaresco since the mid 1800`s. It was Giovanni and his wife Maria who moved their house and winery to its present location Paglieri hamlet, home to the famous vineyard Pajé. This plot is the foundation of the estate, which in all covers 6 ½ hectares in Barbaresco.

Alfredo and Luca, father and son, now take care of the property. In 1990, they were able to purchase two slices of renowned vineyard sites of Castiglione Falletto in Barolo, la Pira and le Rocche. These came with a 15th farm house they renovated and which became Casa Roagna, a bed and breakfast overlooking the vines.

The Roagna like to describe their style as traditional and innovative. Luca was born in 1980, and is still pursuing a high degree in oenology. But he sees his academic studies as a way to understand intellectually all the practices he has observed on the terrain and in the cellar, as implemented by his grandfather Giovanni Roagna, father Alfredo and mother, Luigina.

Roland Champion

The Estate
This small grower is located in the Grand Cru Village of Chouilly, in the `Côte des Blancs`. The vineyard of Chouilly has a south, southeast sun exposure, which gives the chardonnay its delicate aromas.
Founded in 1951 by André Champion, his son Roland expanded the company by purchasing some new land, and gave his name to the family house of Champagne. François is the third generation of the family and continues in his father`s footsteps. He is the enologist and currently runs the company. He farms their 18 hectares (44.5 acres) and blends wines resulting from different parcels and various vintages to elaborate his Cuvées.

The property consists of 40 different parcels planted with the following grape types:

  • Chardonnay: 70%
  • Pinot Meunier: 22%
  • Pinot Noir: 8% in the commune of Verneuil

The grapes are harvested manually, which is the rule in Champagne. Then, the grapes are immediately pressed in-site to avoid oxidation and preserve the quality of the grapes.
The wine is aged in their cellar made of chalk where the constant temperature is 1012°C (50/54°F).

Production is 85,000 bottles (7,000 cases) yearly, part of which is sold “sur latte” to negociants. The remaining 35,000 bottles are sold under their own name.

They produce the following wines:
NV Brut, Blanc de Blanc: 25% of production
Vintage Champagne, Speciale Club Carte Noire: 70% of production
Rosé Brut: 5% of production

Currently, all wines are 100% pre-sold to an adoring French clientele. Daughter Carole Champion represents the fourth generation to continue with the property.

Rubus

When you speak about the wines of eastern Sicily and especially the wines from the soils of Mount Etna, Sicily`s famous, majestic volcano, it is impossible to not mention the name Salvo Foti. A native of the city of Catania, Salvo studied enology and began his career in 1981 as a technical and agrarian advisor to some noted estates in eastern Sicily. He continues that work today for estates such as Gulfi, Benanti and ViniBiondi, all of whose wines are universally recognized as among the best in Sicily. But it is still working with and for someone else. Salvo wanted his own project to really make a wine that sings.

A number of years ago, Salvo`s love of the grapes and soils of Etna, in particular, led him to initiate a project called I Vigneri. It takes its name from an association that existed in the Etna region in 1435, Maestranzi dei Vigneri, an association of vineyard workers that greatly influenced the wine culture of the Etna region. Today, I Vigneri is an association between Salvo Foti, other vine experts and local grape growers who bring their long experience among the particular vines of Etna to their work in the vineyard and cellar.

Samsara is a Sanskrit word meaning the eternal cycle of life. The world we live in now. One of passion, oneness and harmony. This idea is key to the philosophy of Chad and Mary Melville`s Samsara wines. Chad and Mary produce limited releases of Pinot Noir and Syrah from micro-sites within carefully selected vineyards.

"Farming is a metaphor for many of life`s most important lessons. Though it is our propensity as humans to do so, farming teaches us that there are elements occurring in nature that are far beyond our control. After I apply my knowledge and passion to the vineyard, I must then surrender my efforts to a causality about which I have little say. Within this struggle, the lesson of humility is learned."

They truly believe that they are winegrowers, not winemakers - that is, that all of the important work is done in the vineyard and there is little handling or manipulation once the fruit reaches the winery. That includes the use of whole clusters in their fermentations, which lends a spiciness to the wines that Chad and Mary particularly like. "Stems help to absorb the overt fruitiness of wines. To us, too many California wines are simply about fruit and lack the complexity that we hope to impart to our wines.”

The resulting wine is an interpretation of the tenuous balance between the power of nature and elements beyond our control, and the human desire to reach perfection.

The Siegel Winery owns a total of some 450 hectares in the Colchagua Valley. The varieties of grapes grown are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, with other new varieties increasingly in demand in the different markets soon to be added. In the last few years this winery`s business orientation has taken a new turn with the decision to produce and market its own wines. The winery produces a range of varietal wines, along with reserve wines that highlight the quality of the grapevines born in this valley. They are products with world-class quality, for international distribution and consumption.

The Colchagua Valley is truly a synthesis of the country`s way of life and wine has been produced here since time out of mind. This area, which has deservedly been raised to the category of estate bottling in wine making, has maintained its prestige due to the great quality of its wines. One of its noted symbols is its high quality Cabernet Sauvignons, and its red wines in general. Its variety of soils and climatic variations, some warmer, some cooler, have given the region innumerable attributes for grapevine cultivation.

SCHUBERT WINES was established in 1998 by Kai Schubert and Marion Deimling, both Geisenheim University Viticulture & Oenology graduates from Germany. Having worked with winemakers like Erni Loosen of Dr. Loosen Estate, Bernkastel in Germany as well as in various vineyards across the world, their dream had always been to establish their own vineyard.

They worked and searched in regions like Oregon, California, Australia and parts of Europe, but New Zealand`s Wairarapa region in the southern part of the North Island was the most interesting area to them. After examining some 100 properties in New Zealand they always returned to the Wairarapa region where they found two ideal sites for their favourite variety Pinot Noir. Both sites were purchased in 1998.

With the smaller site already planted in vines they developed the bigger property with vines in 1999 and 2000. Schubert`s vineyards are closely planted in the traditional, European style and the unique climate produces low yields and internationally award winning wines with intense and complex character. Schubert Wines are predominantly exported into currently 25 countries.

For four generations the Scilio family has cultivated vines on the imposing slopes of Mount Etna on Sicily. The family`s farmhouse and cellars date back to 1815, and are built with the midnight-black lava rock that too feeds so many of Etna`s ancient Nerello Mascalese vines.

The family`s vineyards are found on the northeastern slopes of the volcano, in the Valle Galfina (near the town of Linguaglossa) -- unquestionably Etna`s finest regions for winemaking, and an area that also claims some of her oldest vines.  Scilio`s main vineyards sit at some 1,900 feet above sea level, with vines that are on average 50 years old.  The family also boasts another ancient vineyard, with vines some 90 years old, at 2,700 feet above sea level -- slopes are very steep and the soils pure, black lava stone and sand.

Because of the altitude, the family harvests their grapes from mid-October to mid-November, a time when grape harvests in most of Italy are long over.  The cooler weather at altitude allows for this leisurely harvest, as well as preserves Nerello Mascalese`s fresh fruit and allows the volcanic, mineral-rich terroir to shine through in both their red and white wines.

Winemaking at Scilio is 100% organic; all grapes are harvested by hand and no pesticides or herbicides are used in the vineyards.  Their rosato, a rare 100% Nerello Mascalelse, and their bianco, a blend of Catarratto and Carricante, are tank-made; their rosso, also pure Nerello Mascalese, is aged in older barrique.

Solino is produced by the famous Santadi Cantina in the area of Sulcis, in Southwestern Sardegna. Now an Italian Island, Sardegna`s fascinating story may be said to have begun with the ancients who built the amazing conical Nuraghi (Italian plural of Nuraghe), stone buildings dating back perhaps 6,000 years. The edifices may have been built strategically, or had a religious significance, military compounds, or simple dwellings: no one knows for sure. Their presence in Sardegna is however iconic.

Sardegna`s culture has been variously influenced by a long history of Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantine culture, Berbers, the Italian city-state of Genova…and more recently Moorish and Spanish influence. The local Sardinian language shares traits from Catalan, Spanish, and indigenous (Nuraghe) elements. Food culture celebrates the incredible richness from the sea, as well as the ubiquitous wild boar, and suckling pig. Stews are very common.

Sylvie Esmonin

Until just a few years ago, this estate was known as Domaine Michel Esmonin et Fille. After studying in Dijon, Sylvie Esmonin worked in various capacities as a consulting oenologist. She says that she needed several years of independent work to weigh her decision and commitment to come back to Gevrey-Chambertin and succeed her father at the family estate. She came back to vinify the 1990 vintage, and from then on the whole production became estate-bottled. Otherwise, all decisions were made by father and daughter together, until progressively Sylvie assumed all responsibilities (with the possible exception of plowing, Michel Esmonin`s favorite vineyard chore).

Tamí

Tami is a joint project between Arianna Occhipinti, and a handful of friends and neighbors, including her boyfriend, the owner of Tami wine bar in Siracusa. These well-priced and balanced wines are made from purchased fruit and fermented using indigenous yeasts. The project is supervised by Arianna. The Frappato and Nero d`Avola are in stock now while the Grillo will be bottled at the beginning of April.

The story of Tenuta Vitanza begins in 1994, when Rosalba Vitanza and her soon-to-be husband, Guido Andretta, spent a romantic weekend in Montalcino.
Rosalba has a PhD in Philosophy, and was teaching at the University of Rome, La Sapienza branch.  Guido Anderetta was working as an aerospace engineer, running his own consulting business based in the United Kingdom and the U.S.A.


In 1994, they united their efforts behind the purchase of Podere Rensione, a country home with two acres of vineyards.  Their first vintage was 1995 and the couple received 93 points from the Wine Spectator.  Today, they own 80 acres of vines (not all in production year), and have a long-term goal of 15,000 cases of production.  Since 2002, the couple has been building a modern, gravity flow winery, computer controlled, and wi-fi connected, in the town of Torrenieri.  The winery has 13 large stainless steel tanks, each signifying a specific vineyard area.  Also, the winery has been designed with total traceability, meaning that each bottle is numbered.  In the future, you will be able to access their website, punch in the bottle`s number, and receive the following information:
·        bottle type
·       
cork used
·       
kind of aging & how much time
·       
vineyard location & exact parcel
·       
weather that particular vintage

Recently, Tenuta Vitanza received: Tre Bicchiere from Gambero Rosso for the 2000 Vintage of Brunello di Montalcino, and 93 points from the Wine Spectator for the 2001 Brunello di Montalcino.

The creation of Terrace Heights Estate was in the early months of 2002.  We had, since 1996, been growing grapes on contract for Whitehaven and an opportunity arose to brand the first wine a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

After a flurry of activity the T.H.E Sauvignon Blanc 2002 was released to absolute minimal fanfare.

Winemaker`s Notes:

The initial sales and marketing plan was to enter the wine in the Air NZ Wine awards of 2002.  Unfortunately, along with several other entrants our wine tasting stock for the awards was misplaced in transit and was, as a result, not judged.  This was a major blow to the marketing machine.

In March 2003 we tried again, this time with the Royal Easter Wine Show in Auckland.  The majority of our stock was still firmly ensconced in the Marlborough Bottling Company store in Blenheim.

We won a Gold medal for the THE Sauvignon Blanc 2002 at these awards and later, at the awards dinner, received the Trophy for Champion Sauvignon Blanc of the show.  We then sold our remaining stock very quickly and were on the wine map, if fleetingly.

So, some five vintages later I find myself writing this wondering where the time has gone.

This vintage we have rebranded totally but still remain true to the original concept of the pure simplicity of T.H.E. -Terrace Heights Estate.

Steve Hammond

Luccarelli wines are crafted in a large, ultra-modern facility called Terre di Sava, in the village of Sava, which is a stone`s throw from the town of Manduria - the heart of the Primitivo di Manduria zone. Just down the road is Salice Salentino, then the more major city of Lecce.

Puglia is 350 km long; exceedingly warm in the summer time, it is the “heel” of the boot that is Italy. In the area of Manduria, Primitivo reigns while in Salice Salentino the main grape is Negroamaro, said to have dominated the Salice vineyard since the 6th Century BC. Luccarelli - and it`s mid-tier range Ampelo - come from the Terre di Sava winery which sources grapes from hundreds of local growers. The ancient vines are tended by farmer-owners and average 80 years old, planted in the iron-rich Terrarossa soils with calcareous bedrock, and trained in the traditional Albarello. In fact many of those growers are as old as their vineyards and the winery has gradually been purchasing the best plots from these old farmers, in order to maintain their investment in the land and ensure the source of their best fruit.

Vines this old don`t need to worry about hot, dry summers - the extensive root structure penetrates far enough down that the vines can ripen during the summer without experiencing water-stress. True to form, the Gran Sasso partners have joined forces with the local growers and have changed the paradigm - instead of paying for quantity, as in the past, the growers are paid solely for quality, with incentives to reduce yields and assistance from the resident viticulturist to produce the best possible fruit. These naturally low yielding old vines are hand harvested and farmed sustainably. This is a truly lucky land - sustainable viticulture is simple to maintain in this arid environment. Here, even more than in Abruzzo, the formula of working with a large number of growers who can finish a hand-harvest quickly pays dividends, as the heat of Puglia can easily produce fruit that is stewed, roasted, and out of balance. Picking at the optimal moment is critical to producing balanced wines.

Terres Dorées

Jean Paul Brun is located in Charnay, a village in the Southern Beaujolais just north of Lyons, in a beautiful area known as the "Region of Golden Stones". Brun is the owner and winemaker at this 40-acre family estate and has attracted the attention of the French and American press for the wonderfully fruity and delicate wines he produces.

Brun wants to make "old-style" Beaujolais and his vinification differs from the prevailing practices in the region. He believes that the charm of Gamay`s fruit is best expressed by the grapes` indigenous yeasts, rather than by adding industrial yeast. Virtually all Beaujolais is now made by adding a particular yeast during fermentation.

Known as 71B, this yeast is a laboratory product made in Holland from a tomato base, which imparts wines with banana and candy aromas. It produces a beverage, but with no authenticity and little charm. Brun, on the other hand, wants to make a pure Gamay wine.

Brun`s view is that Beaujolais drinks best at a lower degree of alcohol and that there is no need to systematically add sugar to the must (chaptalize) to reach alcohol levels of 12 to 13 degrees. So he chaptalizes minimally or not at all - depending on the vintage and the cuvée. His Beaujolais is made to be pleasurable - light, fruity and delicious - not an artificially inflated wine that shines at tasting competitions.

 

Importer`s Notes:

Who doesn`t want Champagne quality for decidedly un-Champagne prices?  Our blanc de noirs selection from Terres Secrètes is a tremendous value for the money, and a dead-ringer in terms of quality to many very fine blanc de noirs Champagnes.

Terres Secrètes is our secret source for fine bubbly in the southern Burgundy region.  The fine winemakers here give us the run of their cellar to choose the finest lots of wine for our own bottling of blanc de noirs.  We can`t help but thinking of Egly-Ouriet`s Blanc de Noirs while enjoying it.

When the time came, four years ago, to replant a vineyard dedicated to a local, red grape variety, Gianluca Salamon, project director for Elysian, and his father decided to change their plantings to the production of the regions most famous wine, Prosecco. Terriero, landowner in Italian, is vinified in a brut style with 12 grams residual sugar on the families estate vineyards located in the Santa Lucia di Piave area of the Treviso DOC.

Along with the award winning Elysian Prosecco, Terriero is produced by owner/winemaker Desiderio Bortolin at his state of the art, eponymous winery, Bortolin Angelo. Consistent with the Elysian production practices, Terriero Prosecco is held in tank and bottled in small lots to order.

The winery owners are David and Cheryl Clarke (born Thorn) and their son Sam is the manager of the winery. The Thorn-Clarke family has a long history in the Barossa - six generations of involvement in the region`s world famous wine industry. The Thorns have been grape growers in the Barossa since the 1870`s. David Clarke`s passion for the wine industry lead to the planting of the Kabininge vineyard outside of Tanunda in 1987, which represents the start of a deeper involvement by the family in the Barossa wine industry. 

Thorn-Clarke Wines was launched in 2002 as a result of the 37 year marriage between David and Cheryl Clarke (nee Thorn). The Thorn family have grown vines in the Barossa since the 1870`s and still proudly own and manage some of the oldest vineyards in the region.

The wine is another reward for geologist David Clarke and his family. The family has planted four diverse Barossa vineyards over the last 20 years, enabling them to blend wines grown from different terroirs which adds complexity and richness to the wine.

Tiza

These wines originate with a Spanish family based in Navarra. The grapes come from hand-harvested vineyards situated in Lujan de Cuyo. The winery uses a Marzola Basket Press, which has a solid reputation for quality. The press is hydraulic with an electric engine, and the plates are stainless steel with the bottom plate slanted to allow for maximum drainage. Basket walls are constructed of waterproofed wooden slats joined by stainless steel rings that can be switched out, allowing for continual filling and pressing. The computerized control panel can be programmed in various speeds and pressure, allowing the operator better control for extracting juice.  Tiza is a lot specially selected by the importer. 2,500 cases produced, 2,500 cases imported.

The 220 acres of vines are planted to Malbec (first vines date back to 1912). The vineyard is situated 1,000 meters above sea level and is planted on alluvial soils with subsoils made of stone and sandy/limestone sediments. The quality of the soil together with the high density of vines per hectare contribute to produce very low yields with excellent fruits.

When Veneto legend Giuseppe Quintarelli was asked years ago to name the region`s next superstar, he didn`t hesitate: Tommaso Bussola.

Quintarelli`s prediction began to be realized in 1999, when Tommaso`s 1995’s were released. Among the countless accolades he received, Gambero Rosso gave him the first of many Tre Bicchieris for his majestic Recioto TB.

Learning on the Job. Originally trained as a stone mason, Tommaso took over over his uncle`s Valpolicella estate—with its prized old vineyards in the heart of the Classico zone—in the mid-1980`s. While vineyard work came naturally to him, he experimented relentlessly, and absorbed information and ideas from every source available. With each passing vintage, his wines came to show more polish, finesse, intensity, and personality.

By the late nineties, his style had matured, and his wines had become world-famous for their incredible intensity of fruit. Like other top Veneto winemakers, he uses new barrels, but any hint of new wood is hidden by cascades of lush, opulent fruit.

Ancient Clones. The key, we think, is not only the age of his vines but the fact that they are nearly all naturally low-yielding ancient clones: Corvinone (40%), Corvina Grossa (25%) and Rondinella (20%).

Tres Ojos is made at the Bodega San Gregorio, a cave co-op founded in 1965 that counts 160 members. The president is Gregorio Abad Gil and the vice president is Jose Maria Hernandez.  They sell wine to nine different countries.

The winery is located in the Ribota River Valley, some 15 kilometers north of the city of Calatayud. Tres Ojos hails from the D.O. Calatayud, located in Aragon, a province unparalleled in Spain by its variety of landscapes (lush river valleys, mountainsides and semi-desert areas.)  The name Calatayud derives from a Moorish governor named Ayud who built a castle (qalat) at the confluence of the Jalon and Jiloca rivers (qalat Ayud.)  There has been thriving population here as far back as Roman times when the old city of Bilbilis was used as an important staging-post for the Roman legions on their way north to Gaul.

The co-op cultivates 820 hectares (2,025.40 acres) of primarily Garnacha (62%), Tempranillo (22%), 7% white Macabeo and 9% Cabernet, Syrah & Merlot (a mix).  Most of the vines are at least 40 years old and some are 50+. The vines, planted “en vaso”(head-trained) are not irrigated, offering very low production levels. Local soils are rich in limestone, marl and slate, providing plenty of opportunities to make good wine on a regular basis of which Tres Ojos is a perfect example.

Ulysse Collin

In 2003, Olivier Collin recovered the 4.5HA of vineyards that his family had rented out for years. His first purchase was a second-hand high tractor and plows to work the land. His second went to used Burgundy-type barrels, which were at least 4 years old, because he thinks the still wine has to be made in oak.

Olivier is pragmatic when it comes to his vineyard work. He doesn`t yet own all the equipment he needs to work the way he would prefer, so he uses a mix of organic and conventional practices: he plows, doesn`t use herbicides or anti-rot products, only powdered sulfur against odium and an organic insecticide against ver de la grappe (a type of tiny caterpillar that eats berries and causes gray rot); mildew is fought with chemical compounds. Organic compost is added to the soil when needed.

Cellar work is straightforward, the alcoholic fermentation takes as long as it needs (6 months in 2004) and is followed by the malolactic fermentation. Tartaric precipitations occur under natural cold conditions, and the wine is not fined or filtered before the secondary fermentation in bottle. There is no or little dosage.

The barrel aging is progressively getting longer: 10 months in 2004, 12 in 2005, 13 in 2006. Also, with the slow building-up of stock, the bottles are going to stay on slats for a longer period before disgorgement, and 30% of the 2006 crop has been set aside as a reserve for blending with 2007.

The Siegel Winery owns a total of some 450 hectares in the Colchagua Valley. The varieties of grapes grown are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, with other new varieties increasingly in demand in the different markets soon to be added. In the last few years this winery`s business orientation has taken a new turn with the decision to produce and market its own wines. The winery produces a range of varietal wines, along with reserve wines that highlight the quality of the grapevines born in this valley. They are products with world-class quality, for international distribution and consumption.

The Colchagua Valley is truly a synthesis of the country`s way of life and wine has been produced here since time out of mind. This area, which has deservedly been raised to the category of estate bottling in wine making, has maintained its prestige due to the great quality of its wines. One of its noted symbols is its high quality Cabernet Sauvignons, and its red wines in general. Its variety of soils and climatic variations, some warmer, some cooler, have given the region innumerable attributes for grapevine cultivation.

Osvaldo Viberti is a young wine producer who has been running his family farm since 1993 with the precious help of his father Luigi. His farm is modest in size, with about 8 estate hectares planted with vineyards and it produces wines like dolcetto and two kinds of Barolo, the basic one and the other one "Barolo Serra dei Turchi".

Many factors contribute to make a good wine: the sun, climate, soil composition, geographic position the scrupulous work of the farmer to ensure that the grapes are mature, his careful selection of the best bunches and a thorough examination of each processing cycle.

But above all a strong passion that is the basis of any work of art, something spiritual that comes from inside and that you can perceive when you bring a glass of good wine near to your lips and nose.

Like all the wine producers, Osvaldo wishes to share that charm with the people who taste his wines, since that magic contributed to obtain more rewarding results.

Viornery

There are but a few winemakers who raise and treat their Beaujolais like grand cru Burgundy—and even fewer who can craft a Gamay wine as rich, spicy and alive as can Georges Viornery.

Our “Cuvée Unique” is made from Viornery`s finest parcel of old vines (from 75 to 100 years old). It is bottled without fining or filtration; in great years, the wine can age five to 15 years with ease. 

Viornery`s family has been involved in viticulture for generations. His grandfather petitioned the French government to create the Côte de Brouilly appellation, which consists of 300 hectares surrounding Mont de Brouilly. The family`s parcel of older vines sits on a unique vein of blue clay.

What we seek and find chez Viornery is not size but savor. The aroma and flavor of blueberry is one characteristic of Viornery wines; these are deep, dense blueberries that are exotic, extra spicy and bursting with flavor.

Weingut Matheus is located in Piesport on the Mosel and has a 400 year tradition of winemaking (8 generations). Since 1992, the estate has been managed by Petra Hain-Matheus and Jorg Matheus, a graduate of the school in Geisenheim. Total estate production is 35,000 bottles or 2,916 cases annually, but they could produce more (50,000 bottles).

Weingut Mayr-Nusser

The Nusserhof estate lies directly beside the Isarco River facing south, practically in the center of the city of Bolzano. The Bolzano Valley Basin enjoys a fantastically warm climate and the deep alluvial soils are rich in eroded porphyry. It`s a perfect place to ripen grapes for a northern Italian climate.

Elda & Heinrich Mayr are the latest generation of their family to work this land where the records date back to at least 1788. The Nusserhof gets its name from the hazelnut trees that once lined the house on the river side. Not so long ago they were torn out to put in a municipal bike path. This is typical of the recent history of Nusserhof. As the years have gone by, the urban environs of the city of Bolzano have more and more encroached the estate. And the city has systematically made it harder and harder for the Mayrs to continue their farming. In fact, it is believed that the only reason the estate is in existence is due to the fact that one of Heinrich`s relatives was an early opponent of the Nazi occupation and died as a Catholic martyr and conscientious objecter in a concentration camp.

On their estate of 2.5 hectares, the Mayrs cultivate Lagrein and Blatterle, two native grapes of the region. There is also a tiny bit of Teroldego. The vines are about 50% in guyot trellising and about 50% in pergola. The viticulture is organic, certified by the German agency Bioland.

 

Founded in 1875, Weingut Robert Weil is considered to be one of the Rheingau`s younger wine estates. It is located in the heart of Kiedrich, a village first documented in the year 950. Kiedrich Turmberg and Kiedrich Gräfenberg, the estate`s top vineyards, are among the finest sites in the Rheingau.

The estate cultivates 70 hectares (173 acres) of vineyards, of which 98 percent are planted with Riesling. Today, Wilhelm Weil, the great-grandson of the estate`s founder, carries on the tradition of uncompromising, quality-oriented vineyard and cellar practices – a tradition that has been the hallmark of the winery for four generations.

The young family owned and run winery is situated in the northern part of Austria known as the Weinviertel, in the wine city of Poysdorf. The wine-growing tradition goes back to 1724.

Their aim is to produce fruity, elegant wines, rich in finesse, that reflect and express the terroir of the Weinviertel area. They take pride in using only the best grapes combined with experience, know-how and dedication.

The Vineyard

Deep loess and clayey soil, carefully chosen areas, plenty of sunshine and a sustainable viticulture are the ingredients of their fruity, lively white wines. The vineyards cover an area of about 20 hectares. They further work with carefully selected vintners who produce another 15 hectares of grapes for them.

The wine-growers association was founded in 1897. Today 45 vintners deliver grapes from the Erbach and Kiedrich vineyards to the cellar. There is close a relationship with the vintners, who are all part owners of their winery, all of whom have access to highly skilled and experienced viticultural advice. The cellar was built in 1903 in the "Art Nouveau" style. Today they are the most highly rated Wine cooperation in the Rheingau region, well known for producing high quality Riesling wines with a strong price-value relationship.

The wine-growers association was founded in 1897. Today 45 vintners deliver grapes from the Erbach and Kiedrich vineyards to the cellar. There is close a relationship with the vintners, who are all part owners of their winery, all of whom have access to highly skilled and experienced viticultural advice. The cellar was built in 1903 in the "Art Nouveau" style. Today they are the most highly rated Wine cooperation in the Rheingau region, well known for producing high quality Riesling wines with a strong price-value relationship.

Wolfberger is a union of producers located in Eguisheim, south of Colmar.  The city was also the home of Pope Leo IX, the Reformer (Pope from 1048 – 1054 A.D.). The winery was founded in 1902 when a group of wine-growers in Eguisheim decided to join forces to create one of the first cooperatives in Alsace. The cave counts 800 members today. Wolfberger combines tradition and constant innovation to elaborate high quality wines and preserve their typicity.

The resident oenologist at Wolfberger is Bertrand Praz. A young but extremely capable winemaker, he learned his craft at the famous Dijon wine school and from working at the Mumm Champagne House. He has taken huge strides in raising the quality level here. They also take their evaluative wine tasting very seriously and have a highly efficient set-up for tasters. The amphitheatre style classroom has individual wine-tasting desks each with light, spit bowl and automatic water faucet.

Yannick Pelletier

 

“Yannick Pelletier is meticulously-farming 21 mostly schistic acres at the northern edge of Saint-Chinian, and the results were some of the   revelations of my recent tastings: as yet little-known wines that are at the apex of their appellation.”

-David Schildknecht , The Wine Advocate

Yannick Pelletier has not always been a winemaker. At 34, after graduating with a degree in Wine Marketing, he began his career as owner of a wine shop in Lyon.

He had fallen prey to the wine bug and before long became a winemaker himself. Instead of going to oenology school, he decided to learn his craft in the field, specifically with the winemakers whose wines inspired him.

In 2002, he worked several months with Didier Barral in Faugères. Then in 2003, he went to the Northern Rhône get a feel for Viognier and Syrah alongside the trio Cuilleron-Villard-Gaillard. Next he moved to St. Nazaire de Ladarez, a little village in the St. Chinian appellation, about 25 kilometers north of Béziers. There he acquired vineyards, either bought or leased. Currently he is farming about 10 hectares of mostly old vines in schist and limestone clay soils.

His philosophy has been greatly inspired by Didier Barral, notably concerning the adoption of biodynamic viticulture and minimal use of sulfur during vinification and aging of his wines.

 



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