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Stéphane Vedeau is an expert wine maker and vigneron. After making wine in the Languedoc for years, he came back to his roots and moved to the Rhône in 2000. He owns three different wineries - Ferme du Mont in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Bellane in Valreas, and his Northern Rhône wines are bottled under his mother’s name Jeannine Boutin. In meeting Stéphane, you can instantly tell that he is a perfectionist, which for him (in terms of winemaking) means a true expression of the terroir. To accomplish this, work in the vineyards is organic, grapes are hand-harvested, wild yeasts start fermentation, the cellar is gravity fed, aging happens in a mix of stainless steel and larger oak barrels, and wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Established in 1970 by Riccardo Bruna, Azienda Agricola Bruna is the benchmark producer of the local Pigato (AKA Vermentino*) grape, a late-ripening variety named for the amber spots that appear on the bunches. Located in the Arroscia valley in western Liguria, the historic home for Pigato, Bruna is a tiny 7.5 hectare estate consisting of 5-6 vineyard plots, all planted on terraced vineyards carved out of the mountainside. Production in a top year is only 3000 cases. The vineyards are perched at 200-300 meters above sea level and only 15km from the Mediterranean. This area, known as the Maritime Alps, is known for its production of olives, cherries and aromatic herbs, such as rosemary, thyme and sage. Bruna is currently run by Riccardo’s daughter Francesca and her husband, Roberto. The estate has worked organically (not certified) since 2009. In addition to Pigato, Bruna makes a handful of red wines based on the local Granaccia variety, a variant of Grenache.
Vintage Notes: The 2016 vintage grapes were perfect. Budbreak got going slightly ahead of schedule because the winter was warm with little rain. The months of May and June were unusually rainy, with below average temperatures. The summer was warm and dry with the occasional storm, which refreshed the air. Good temperature swings between day and night. Harvest began on September 5th with the youngest vines and was prolonged until the first days of October for the highest vineyards of Pigato. It was a decidedly better harvest because it was more balanced when compared to the "super hot" 2015. The 2016 wines are juicy, balanced, with excellent structure and complex aromas.
*“Vermentino is actually Pigato. Wait a minute; no, Pigato is not Vermentino. After years debating the issue, researchers, wine experts and producers in Italy all agree to disagree on the subject. The academicians all apparently believe that Pigato and Vermentino are the same; many of Liguria’s wine producers do not. Being facetious, you might say that’s because the grapes are both Favorita. No, wait: they’re all Piccabon (a wrong attribution: we now know Piccabon is identical to Vernaccia di San Gimignano). And so the story goes on. And on. According to recent genetic testing, however, Piedmont’s Favorita and western Liguria’s Pigato appear to be biotypes of Vermentino, rather than distinct varieties… For the best Pigatos, try: Bruna*** (especially U Baccan, balsamic and rich).” – Ian d’Agata – Native Wine Grapes of Italy
“With no mediocre wines anywhere in the range, Buchegger justifies its renown as one of the Kremstal’s finest estates.” —Stephen Brook, The Wines of Austria, ©2016
"Unfortunately, when we arrived in Austria this year for VieVinum, we found out that the owner of this winery, Walter Buchegger, had passed away. He and his wife Silke Mayr had originally kept their wineries independent from one another until 2006, when they started to share a winery space. They worked together to run both wineries; now Mayr will manage both. Mayr and the Buchegger team share Walter’s vision and feel that the best way to honor his memory, is to continue to run the winery and vineyards following his desires. He is of course irreplaceable, and his drive, expertise, and daily presence are missed.
Walter Buchegger took over from his father in 1994, making him the sixth generation to run the family estate, established in 1893. They have 15 hectares of vines located in the Kremstal on mostly conglomerate soil topped with loess. Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are planted, along with a smattering of Zweigelt, Chardonnay and Merlot. The loess has a high chalk content—65%—giving the wines nice tension. Buchegger’s top sites are the Gebling, Holzgasse, Pfarrweingarten, Moosburgerin, and Tiefenthal.
Buchegger farms following the Austrian “Kontrolled Integrated Production” or KIP, which is stricter in some ways that the normal organic designation: for example, it places more stringent limits on the amount of copper sulphate allowed and limits the use of tractors which can compact the soil. Allowing the soil to “breathe” leads to healthier root systems and vines. Early on in the nineties, Buchegger stopped using herbicides or insecticides in his vineyards because of the health risks. The vines pre-date clonal breeding and all are massale selection from the time the winery was established.
Buchegger makes very classic style Kremstal wines. The wines are characterized by ripeness and power, but always without botrytis; Walter liked his wines to be clean, fruity, and easy to drink; complex, without being complicated. I tasted 2017’s at the VieVinum fair with Buchegger’s cellar master, Michael Nastl, who had worked at Brundlmayer in the Kamptal for many years before joining the Buchegger team in 2014. Holding back tears, we tasted through a gorgeous line up of 2016’s and 2017’s. Nastl described 2016 as a cool year with quite a bit of rain, which was beneficial to the wines as they are really pushed to absorb the minerals from the soil. He described 2017 as hot and dry. I found that the 2017’s had juicy ripeness and a nice, bright, savory minerality. 2016’s had a striking floral quality on the nose and the signature quality that Buchegger’s wines always have: an approachability that is full of fruit, yet with enough mouthwatering acidity to make you want another sip."
—Michele Peters, French & Austrian Brand Manager
"Those who doubt the existence of terroir in the United States or who scoff at the whole notion of terroir owe it to themselves to try several of the Old Hill zins... They are particular wines that very much speak of Old Hill."
-Eric Asimov, New York Times
Founded in 1851, Old Hill Ranch is possibly the oldest vineyard in Sonoma. In 1981 it was purchased by Otto Teller, the stepfather of current winemaker Will Bucklin, and resurrected from a state of disrepair having become overrun with old cars, blackberry bushes and old bathroom fixtures. After several years of work the vineyard was back on track and in 1984 they began selling the grapes to Ravenswood for their acclaimed Old Hill Zinfandel. In 1998 the four Bucklin siblings decided to start their own winery so, after having interned at Lafite-Rothschild, worked at Hardy and Sons in Australia, Navarro winery in Mendocino, and being the winemaker at King Estate winery in Oregon, Will Bucklin returned to take over tending the vineyard and winemaking responsibilities at Old Hill Ranch.
The 24 acre Old Hill vineyard is a classic California field blend composed mostly of Zinfandel, about 77%, and the remaining third being a mix of Grenache, Alicante Bouchet, and a least a dozen other varieties (Tannat, Trousseau, Colombard, Lenoir, etc…). The vineyard is both dry farmed and certified organic with yields that rarely exceed one and a quarter tons per acre.
Wines are fermented using only native yeasts and are aged using modest amounts of new oak. The goal here is to allow this carefully tended piece of California history to show its terroir without adding or removing anything that might diminish its expression. Old Hill Ranch is an exceptionally well preserved relic from the genesis of California’s wine landscape and luckily, under the careful watch of the Bucklin family, it has a long life ahead.
Here is a link to Will Bucklin's blog: buckzin.wordpress.com
And a link to an interesting MAP of vineyard plantings.
Buil and Giné is named for Xavi Buil’s grandfather, Joan Giné, who made wine and raised his son and grandson in these dramatic vineyards. The winery itself was established in 1998 in the heart of Priorat, Gratallops, among the steep slate strewn slopes that the region is famous for. Many of the vines here are 45+ years old and are a stone’s throw from the well known L’Ermita vineyards that share much of the same terroir.
From the beginning, their wines have been produced with the goal that their offerings should be classic yet approachable in style, but also approachable in terms of price; as a result, their wines show more restraint and balance than other wines that sell for comparable prices. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed: in their Annual Buying Guide, Wine & Spirits Magazine selected Buil & Giné as one of the Wineries of the Year in 2006, 2008 and 2009.
Priorat, Montsant, Rueda and Toro DO, Spain
Annual production is 22,000 cases
Ca’ Liptra was founded in 2012. The four partners met either at enology school or on the job at some of Le Marche’s top wineries (La Distesa, Pievalta, Fattoria Le Terrazze).The name is a play on words: calyptra is a botanical term, referring to the thin cap that protects flowering parts as they are developing. In grapevines this part blows off as the flowering process begins. The name Ca’Liptra is a combination of Ca’ (meaning “house of”) and the initials of the partners’ last names (Giovanni Loberto, Roberto Pisani, Antonella TRaspadini, and Agostino Alfieri).
The estate is located in Cupramontana, one of the highest-quality villages in the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi denomination, in Le Marche. The village itself sits at 505 meters above sea level and is influenced just as much by cool air coming off the Appennines as it is by the Adriatic coast; because of this, the wines are aromatically assertive and bright, without losing the inherent richness of Verdicchio, and that clay-limestone soils impart. Today, Ca’Liptra has 2.5 hectares of vines. This makes it an exceedingly tiny estate, but almost no land is for sale in the area, and planting new vineyards is prohibited. However, this suits Ca’Liptra quite well: none of the vines is younger than 31 years old and the estate can focus on producing wines that are truly representative of a small area. The plots are planted to Verdicchio, Trebbiano, Montepulciano, and a touch of Sangiovese.
Farming is organic (certification pending), and within that framework Ca’Liptra finds a lot of flexibility. For the hot, dry 2015 vintage, they adhered more to the “do-nothing” school of thought. Aside from copper/sulfur treatments and the occasional light mowing of grasses or mulching of vine cuttings from pruning, there was no tilling, no cover crops, no bunch thinning, no green harvest, no leaf plucking. The grapes and the soil were allowed to do what they want to do. For the 2016 vintage, in contrast, specific cover crops were matched to each parcel. In the cellar, the main desire is to let the terroir of Cupramontana shine, so they approach matters with the same flexibility. Different vessels and approaches are used, depending on the wine and situation.
Le Marche has yet to get the credit it deserves and Verdicchio is certainly one of Italy’s best white grapes. We are very happy to count the young but forward-thinking Ca’ Liptra among our growing roster of Italian estates.
To view their website, click here.
A “Bordeaux” blend with more than 75% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Vinification: Destemmed fruit. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks in 3-8 ton batches. Déléstage with gentle sprinkle-over of must, lots of intense aeration during fermentation. About 12-18 day macerations. Aging for 20-36 months in French barrels, about 20% new. 3-4 rackings each year. Conventional SO2 regime by the wine’s pH. Unfiltered.
The Cabrols are a wine-growing family with a domaine that has been passed down from father to son for four generations. The domaine and its 17 hectares of vines are located in the small village of Castelnau de Guers, which is in the northern part of the Picpoul de Pinet AOC and is in the process of becoming a “cru village” of the Languedoc. The domaine practices sustainable viticulture and is certified by Terra Vitis. The Mediterranean climate and the fact that they harvest at night protects the aromas and freshness of the wine. Estate bottled.
Calder Wine Company is a new winery from the son of venerable Napa winemaker John Williams of Frog’s Leap. Rory Williams grew up around the Frog’s Leap winery and through his father he became exposed to the classic wines of California. During college he took time off to work harvests in Barolo, Argentina, Burgundy, and Provence before returning to California with thoughts of making wine. It was a bottle he shared with his father (1964 Inglenook Charbono) that inspired him to start his own winery working with long overlooked traditional varietals: Charbono, Carignane, and Riesling.
In 2009 Rory started with a test vintage of Charbono and in 2011 he launched Calder (his middle name) Wine Company. Having seen the results work for Frog’s Leap, Rory sought out old vines from dry farmed vineyards. The Riesling comes from 50+ year old dry farmed vines in Rutherford, the Charbono comes from 45 year old vines (the same vines that Inglenook used to get theirs from), and the Carignane comes from 73 year old vines in Mendocino.
Bodega Calle is a small-lot, gravity-flow, wine studio located in the prized viticultural area of Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina. Both a house and winery, Alberti 154 is the street address for this tiny, off the beaten path, well-kept secret. Ca' de Calle is Spanish for "House of Calle," named in honor of the winery founder, the late Ms. Elvira Calle, a famous businesswoman who owned the most important newspaper in Mendoza and ended her life as a prominent philanthropist. The winery concentrates on varietal wines and premium red blends sourced from the viticultural areas where each varietal in question grows best. All wines are hand harvested and are made with the use of gravity - never pumped - allowing the wines of Bodega Calle to be notably soft and silky.