Marc deGrazia Selections
Fine Italian wines from small growers were virtually unknown in 1980 when Marco de Grazia first offered a handful of estates from Tuscany and Piedmont. Driven by fascination and passion with a vision of great possibilities, he progressed through the northern regions, then the central zones and finally into Italy’s rich and promising south. Marco is a believer in “education” as in the Latin e-duco, to bring out; thus he works to elicit and finally exhibit the potential qualities of the wines in the Marc de Grazia Selections portfolio.
What was initially a “hobby” company soon grew into a solid business. The international press chimed in with praises and the export operations expanded from the United States into Europe, then Asia and South America. Marco’s brother Sebastian joined the company moving to Florence in 1992 where he enjoys the support of a highly motivated staff.
In 2004 a U.S. based company was established, deGrazia Imports. Little used until 2008 when Anne Zakin became director. Today, with just five dedicated members, the company supports marketing and sales and manages compliance for Marc de Grazia Selections.
Our portfolio offers the best and most authentic Italian wines as we closely work with the vignerons and we only offer wines we really believe in. Our priority are wines made with indigenous varietals grown pursuing sustainable/natural viticulture. Our relationship with the growers and with our clients is based on friendship and on mutual respect. Our selection is a guarantee for high quality and the wines we represent will provide you with an unforgettable experience which will make you travel through the multifaceted Italian wine world.
Ampeleia was born in 2002 from the collaboration and friendship between Elisabetta Foradori, Thomas Widmann and Giovanni Podini. They saw in Ampeleia a place where they could not only develop an agricultural project but also fulfil a common vision relating to shared values and experiences. Since 2009, Thomas's intense political commitment in his homeland has compelled him to forsake his involvement in Ampeleia.
Ampeleia exists thanks to the hard work of many people who, with great passion, dedicate their time and energy for the success and development of this project. Simona Spinelli has been managing the administrative and commercial aspects since the very beginning while Marco Tait oversees all aspects linked to wine production.
Their effort is completed by a dynamic and energetic group of young people working together in an atmosphere of dialogue and mutual improvement: Leonardo Mucci as vineyard manager, Sara Bani and Valentina Fiorenti in the offices are the winery’s accountants, in addition to many other workers. It is thanks to each of them that Ampeleia writes its story every day.
In the 60’s, Erica and Peter Max Suter, a Swiss couple, bought the abandoned farm and turned it into a rural estate with woods and pastures, breeding sheep and pigeons as well as planting a vineyard; soon the Meleta winery (in Italian, 'Meleto' is an apple orchard and the winery was named after the orchard on its land) was known for its wine and products. It was at that time that Cabernet Franc and Merlot were introduced to Roccatederighi.
The main building - typical to this region – is a small and simple farmhouse with a terrace and garden. It now houses Ampeleia's winery as well as the tasting room and offices. The wooden barrels and casks are kept a little further down the slope, deep underground; old sheds left by the previous owners and adapted to today’s needs are interspersed with small stone shelters and ancient buildings.
The vines in Ampeleia grow at a range of altitudes and on different soils: the great geological variety found in the area around Roccatederighi represents a rich pool of diversity. From the rocks of the medieval village of Roccatederighi, one descends to the coast and sea, in a landscape woven with countless fields hidden in the dense vegetation of Mediterranean scrub and holm-oak woods.
Today, the estate extends over three altitude levels and covers 35 hectares of vineyard producing an average of 150,000 bottles annually.
Originating from the Near East, the grape varieties that have been brought together in Ampeleia are often found in Mediterranean farmlands and contribute to assert their varied identity, rich in subtleties. In past times, vineyards were not planted with just one grape variety but many types of grapes were present and they were all harvested at the same time.
The varieties growing on the estate are adapted to the highly different altitude levels, soil types and environments; some varieties are fermented together and then are blended to become the wine that best expresses the land of Roccatederighi as a whole: Ampeleia.
There was nothing here, just pastures and a derelict house. For years, I had been looking for a corner of Tuscany in which to plant a vineyard and restart from my childhood spent between the rows of vines in Lombardy. I was looking for somewhere unexplored, full of potential for making wines which would combine personality and elegance. It is right here, between this Mediterranean scrub and the woods of the Bassa Maremma, south of Capalbio, that in 1998 my wife Gemma and I found the ideal conditions for going ahead with my plan.
Today we are flanked with strong commitment by my daughter Eva and her husband Javier Pedrazzini. Ours is a family run estate.
We are named after the hill that protects us against the strong Mediterranean winds, Monteti. On a clear day, gazing southwards down the hills from the highest vineyard it is possible to catch a glimpse of the sea.
During the preparation of the land the diggers encountered some gigantic boulders. We gently extracted them and, due to their monumental beauty, we decided to place them along the alleys and between the vineyards, standing out like guardians. Naturally, they have become the symbol of the estate.
We set up our enterprise in 1999. We wanted to gain the best possible advantage from the excellent south/south-westerly exposure of the fields. We mitigated the natural slopes to reduce the gradient to a maximum of 7%, allowing us to plant a quite dense vineyard with 6,600 vines per hectare. We ensured excellent drainage, dug runnels and designed the alleys.
Due to the characteristics of the territory, I decided to concentrate our production exclusively on red grape varieties. The aim was to achieve the best possible quality. It was clear right from the start to both myself and our consultant oenologist Carlo Ferrini that not being an area with a tradition for red wines, ours would be IGT Toscana and not DOC or DOCG. This allowed us to choose in absolute freedom the grape varieties best enhanced by the characteristics of our soil, pursuing low yields per hectare and drawing up our own vinification and ageing method, which we apply with the utmost rigour and refine year after year.
It was also clear from the start that we were going to make just two wines. Two brothers, Monteti and Caburnio, which, while sharing a similar stylistic concept, would be different in terms of composition and maturation.
In 2001 we began building the cellar, designed in close relation to the vineyard according to two main criteria. The first was that every production stage, from the arrival of the grapes to the descent of the wine into the ageing cellar, would take place by gravity, avoiding the brusque use of pumps. The second, fundamental criterion was that the winemaking cellar and the ageing cellar would be organised in such a way as to allow the separate vinification and maturation of each batch of every variety, as though each were a creature in its own right. Thanks to this, when it is time to blend the wines, we have an extraordinary range of possibilities on which to base our choices. This is why, more than an estate of 28 hectares, we like to describe it as an estate that is 28 times one hectare.
2004 was our first vintage. The wine was released onto the market three years later. We ourselves were the first to be surprised by the extraordinary result achieved from such young vines.
We have always concentrated on the link with the territory. We apply responsible farming techniques, with organic fertilisation in winter and minimal use of treatments, thanks to a weather station that allows us to intervene only in cases of absolute necessity.
Since 2007, we have left the grapes to ferment spontaneously, thanks to the autochthonous yeasts present on the berries and in the air. This is also the reason why the building, designed by the architect Sergio Bracco, is surrounded by the vegetation terraces that merge it with the neighbouring environment.
Year by year we learn from the land, perfecting our work with loving respect for our environment and our landscape.
The Romantic philosophers used to wonder whether man was farmer or gardener first. Faced with this question, in this ever-developing enterprise, when with Eva and Javier we find in a glass of our wine the landscape of Tenuta Monteti not only with its vine rows but also the roses, the oaks, the rosemary bushes, the boulders and the sea in the distance… well, therein lies our answer.
The location of Routas is spectacular; in the heart of Provence, equidistant from the French Riviera on the Mediterranean coast and the foothills of the Alps. It is surrounded by tiny medieval villages that cling to steep cliffs and overlooks miles of spectacular hillsides, woods and rivers.
Currently 22,000 cases are produced of Rhone-style, estate-grown and bottled wines that have been met with positive comment since their first vintage in 1992.
In 2005 Scotland's Sir David Murray took ownership, ushering in a new era for Chateau Routas.
Jean Louis was raised about five hours to the north in Chablis, with its famed limestone soil. Upon leaving school, however, he headed for Provence and learned the art of making exquisite rosé at Bandol's Domaine Ott, a skill he has brought to bear on the acclaimed Chateau Routas rosé.
A tall man with worker hands and half-moon eyebrows, Jean Louis loves to discuss his philosophy of wine. He speaks of grape varieties in almost human terms. "It is not a good idea ever to have a 50/50 blend," he said; "they fight each other for dominance."
Jean Louis seeks authentic wine and he predicts that every vintage will bear witness to his efforts. "I am looking for finer tannins and greater concentration," he said. "Also, we will be able to wait a little bit longer now before releasing the wines into the market."
Raised virtually in the shadow of Chateau Routas, Philippe Saraciva has Varois dirt under his nails. He discovered his life's work early on, learning from his grandfather how to taste grapes for ripeness and prune the vines in wintertime. He joined Chateau Routas fresh out of school. "Professionally, I grew up here," he reflected.
Philippe sees his challenge as producing the best possible grapes for winemaker Jean Louis. With over sixteen years of experience working together, the two have a near-telepathic rapport, timing the harvest for optimum acidity and complexity of flavor and adopting the time honored method of hand picking for all their grapes.
AOC Coteaux Varois en Provence attained its official status in 1993. The region encompasses a wide variety of soils and elevations, with Chateau Routas situated at the center, about an hour north of Bandol.
Well known among rock climbers for its limestone cliffs, the Varois is gaining recognition as a wine region through the efforts of serious producers like Chateau Routas. The region's reds can display a robust, Rhone-like richness, and its whites show breeding and verve.
Chateau Routas abounds in the agricultural diversity that is key to vine health. The estate's 260 hectares encompass wheat fields and olive trees, and black truffles stud the earth. Red poppies give way to brilliant yellow sunflowers, and in the fall, the surrounding forests yield abundant mushrooms-cepes (porcini), fragile girolles, and morels. Helpful insects play their part in keeping the vines disease-free. The terrain is punctuated by a stunning geological anomaly, the 885-deep Infernet Hole (Devil's Hole), a canyon thought to have been created by a meteor collision. The hole is a favorite refuge of the local wild boars, which are unfortunately a little too fond of the Chateau Routas grapes!
As in all the best properties, the Chateau Routas soil varies dramatically, resulting in small vineyards that are often unusually shaped. Some plots are red as crushed brick, while others are of crumbly grey limestone mixed with bright red stones that bleach in the hot summer sun. At 1,300 feet above sea level, the elevation is among the appellation's highest, providing cool nights that slow the ripening of the grapes, contributing complexity and dictating harvests that are up to a month later than those below.
Cuvelier Los Andes
The story begins in 1804 when Henri Cuvelier set out to share his great passion for fine wine with his friends of the grand bourgeoisie residing in the rich and dynamic towns of the North of France, (Lille, Boulogne Sur Mer, Arras, Valenciennes…) To this aim, he created H. Cuvelier And Fils, a wine Merchant company whose rapid success continued to develop throughout the 19th century.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Paul Cuvelier and his young brother Albert, anticipating the inevitable rise in « château-bottled wines » to the detriment of the « tailor-made » blends of the wine merchants, decided to purchase top quality estates in the Bordeaux area. They bought Château Le Crock in 1903, then Château Camensac in 1912 and finally the prestigious Château Léoville Poyferré in 1920. It is interesting to note that, in early 1914, Paul Cuvelier had already come to Argentina, to discover the wines of Mendoza. He found them « pleasant to drink » although not adapted to the French taste at that time. He recommended a watchful eye be kept on their development. In 1946, the family group asked Max Cuvelier to create a second Fine Wine Merchant’s based in Bordeaux. It was, as it transpired, essential to have an address in the Pavé des Chartrons if one wished to be part of the Bordeaux wine world. This company has since flourished both in France and around the world.
In 1998 Bertrand Cuvelier made the happy choice of personally accompanying Michel Rolland in his great Argentine project, which was to become the« Clos de Los Siete »group. Three years later, Jean-Guy Cuvelier decided to join his cousin Bertrand in the joint aim of building a Winery and producing fine wines worthy of the family tradition. The agreement between Bertrand and Jean-Guy Cuvelier was symbolically signed in the great office of their common ancestor, Henri Cuvelier, in Lille-Haubourdin, in the north of France. Since then, the Winery has been built and each year the vines of Cuvelier Los Andes have contributed 50% of their production to « Clos de Los Siete », the wine signed by Michel Rolland. The success of this wine is worldwide due to the exceptional value for money it offers.
The 2003 yield has also allowed the production of the first edition of «Cuvelier Los Andes-Coleccion». Then the 2004 harvest saw the arrival of our first edition of «Cuvelier Los Andes - Grand Vin ». With the 2005, Cuvelier Los Andes S.A., aside from its significant contribution to «Clos de Los Siete», can now present three wines, produced with the help and advice of Michel Rolland: Coleccion - Grand Vin - Grand Malbec. The quality of these wines, produced from young wines, is well beyond our original hopes. Will the Argentine cousins rival in the future with the fine wines of Bordeaux. It is for the consumers to decide. Time will tell.
A last word: We are proud to announce that the new generation has decided to join the crew, taking on the sales and marketing of the Cuvelier Los Andes S.A. wines.
The Cuvelier Los Andes S.A. vineyard was planted in 1999 with a density of 5500 plants per hectare. Today the vineyard stretches over 55 hectares (136 acres) with 10 hectares still to plant.
The main grape variety is Malbec. We have also planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot. This enables us to create our own blended wines and also contribute to those of Clos de los Siete. Basking in the warm, dry climate of Mendoza, cooled by the refreshing night air of the Andes, our vines are ideally situated to express the character of their various grape varieties in this stony, alluvial gravel soil.
Viña las Perdices
From a farming tradition, the Muñoz López family arrived in Argentina in 1952 from their native Andalucia, in the south of Spain, in search of new horizons. They settled in Mendoza and from 1958 began with the cultivation of vines.
Viña las Perdices is located in the foothills of the Andes Range at 3,380 feet above sea level, in Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo; Mendoza, the first Argentine DOC zone.
In its philosophy, Via Las Perdices fuses the meticulous hand of the man in charge of the special care of the grape, with the elaboration of fine wines of high quality, prioritizing respect for the environment.
When Don Juan Muñoz López arrived in these lands to grow his vines and produce his own wine, he was astonished by the amount of partridges that were pacing around.
One beautiful day, as he walked among the rows of vines, he caught one of them asleep, but when it heard him, he rose quickly. A neighbor of the place told him that these birds of beautiful plumage were old inhabitants of the area and that they used to be seen in groups of three.
With the passing of the days they became nice companions of their long days of work.
It was then that he decided to name his winery "Viña Las Perdices" or vineyard of Partridges roughly translated.
Viña Las Perdices is a family business that was developed by Juan Muñoz López, his wife Rosario and their children: Nicolas, Estela and Carlos. The passion for the terroir, the winemaking activity and the challenge of the aging of fine wines of their own vineyards encouraged them to take these steps.
During the first 20 years they dedicated themselves to commercializing grapes. In 1977 the first winery was built and since then - and until 2003 - wines from the own vineyards in Agrelo have been continuously produced and marketed in bulk, without their own brand.
The finest wine producers in Luján de Cujo have used the family's efforts to promote their own brands with much success and financial profit.
It was in 2004 that the passion for the wine of the Muñoz López family took shape in a new venture and Viña Las Perdices was built on the Agrelo estate. The first wines of their own began to be bottled in the middle of 2006.
At present, the Agrelo estate has more than 60 hectares of vineyards that include vines of more than 30 years and new implantations from 1999. In addition to the Agrelo vineyards, the winery has a second property located in the wine-growing area of arrancas, in the Department of Maipú, where the hectares that complete the total of the land cultivated by the family. They are more than 80 hectares of vineyards of their own, with more than 12 different varieties between white and red, which allows to offer a range of unusual products in family wineries.
We are excited to continue to showcase amazing values from Argentina in the southeast.
Vinos de Terruños
Since 1980 the family Pastor Gilabert has been associated with the wine’s world through its hostelry and wine business.
In 2003, Vinos de Terruños was born, founded by Jose G. Pastor and with the subsequent incorporation of his daughter Teresa Pastor. Starting to make our own wines in different designations of origin within the Spanish territory, with the close collaboration of small local producers and various expert winemakers in the different designations of origin where these wines are made.
Our goal is to give international projection to our winemaking culture through our cuvees. We began our journey in the American market with great acceptance.
Our philosophy has been and will be be able to reach to wine lovers, handmade cuvees with native Spanish varieties. From old, green and sustainable vineyards our wines identified as authentic Spanish wine terroirs.
Domaine Guillot-Broux consists of 17 hectares of vineyards in the Maconnais made up of primarily of Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot noir. The estate was the first Certified Organic estate in Burgundy (1950's) and the estate is spread over 3 areas: Cruzille, Grévilly and Chardonnay. Emmanuel and his 2 brothers make some of the more refined Burgundy that we have ever tasted. Minerality and concentration sum up the wines, the latter mainly due to the high density planting (10,000 vines/ha rather than the usual 6/7,000 in this part of France) which increases fruit concentration. Yeasts are indigenous, S02 is added at bottling in homeopathic doses and all plants are from ancient "massales" selections.
There is a great quote on the Guillot-Broux website, attributable to the transcendentalist Ralf Waldo Emerson, that reads “"We did not inherit the Earth from our forefathers, we are borrowing it from our descendants." It’s a quote worthy of repeating here because it encapsulates the thinking and steers the approach of the vineyard management of so many of our producers.
As with other producers of consistently outstanding wines it is the estate’s attention to detail that is so important.
They are organic producers and so we know the vineyards are judiciously tended without recourse to chemicals of any kind. Additionally, dense plantings keep yields low and quality high. Organic since 1954 and biodynamic since 1991.
Once in the winery the grapes are vinified separately and according to their variety and the terroir from which they came. Cruzille, for instance, is identified for its very mineral-driven wines and their ageing potential.
The wines of Guillot-Broux are that extraordinary combination of consistent yet dazzling.
Domaine Sainte Lucie & Domaine des Diables
The estate with its eight hectares of vineyards at the foot of the Mont Saint Victoire in Puyloubier, near Aix-en-Provence, was created by Michel Fabre in 1979. The children's arrival in the business (Virginia in 2005, followed by Aurélien in 2009), brought fresh impetus to the running of the family estate. Since then, the estate's work methods and winemaking practices have been completely overhauled. This process of change has in particular led to major investment in cellar technology (press with protection against oxidation, cross-flow filtration system, bottling line with protection against oxidation), as well as in vineyard machinery (latest generation wine harvester, hydraulic cultivator), but above all to changes in the estate's sales and marketing strategy. The young Fabre generation has succeeded in implementing a modern, technology-focused and unique approach to winemaking while conserving the authenticity of this large and still family-run estate. The vineyards are being expanded with the planting of new grape varieties to enable diversification of the product portfolio.
Domaine des Diables belongs to the children of the Fabre family who harvested their first grapes from the estate in 2007. The soils of the Domaine des Diables offer a perfectly balanced texture comprised of clay, silt and sand, which is ideal for producing full-flavoured and highly aromatic rosé wines. A significant proportion of gravel and stones can be observed in the soil's composition. Driven by the ambition of surpassing their parents, all of the wines produced by the Fabre children at the Domaine des Diables have been classed top in their category at the various wine competitions and by wine guides. All of this hard work proved particularly worthwhile from 2011 , the Domaine des Diables was awarded the Prix d'Excellence at the Concours Général Agricole de Paris in acknowledgement of the consistent quality of winemaking at the estate since its creation. Thanks to its rosé wines, the Domaine des Diables, has fifth been awarded the Prix d'Excellence at the Concours Général Agricole by the a representative of the French Minister of Agriculture, Bruno Lemaire. Domaine des Diables is the only Provençal estate, among hundreds of candidates, to have received an award in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014,2015, and for the fifth year running at that. This Prix d'Excellence rewards the consistent quality of the estate's wines while certifying, in particular, the use of good winemaking practice as well as quality of flavour in the wines.
We have travelled and tasted a lot of rosé over the years in Provence. The estate here is one of the most picturesque and well tended that we have come across.
We helped Guillaume and his family build the MIP* rosé brand in our region for many years working closely with another importer. Now, we have been given this amazing opportunity to work directly with the estate and bring in Domaine des Diables wines under our own umbrella.
The entire range of wines is superb and it does all begin in the vineyard. With the environment and the consumer constantly in mind, all of their parcels are cultivated according to sustainable pest management principles, verging on organic farming practices. This method involves closely monitoring the presence and development of fungal diseases in the vines, so as to only to take action when there is a high risk of the crop being damaged. This therefore helps to reduce the use of treatments and protect fauna and flora within the Mont Sainte-Victoire site.
Throughout the vines' entire growing cycle, the soil is regularly hoed to eliminate weeds and limit the effects of drought. The fertilizers they use come from the vine: after fermentation, the grape stalks and grapes are distilled and then returned to the soil. The vine shoots are also ground down to ensure that the soil retains a certain level of stable organic matter. Each year, in autumn, they allow a shepherd to bring his herd of sheep to pasture in the vineyard, as was commonly the practice in days gone by.
Domaine Duseigneur was founded by Jean Duseigneur in 1967. In those days, Domaine Duseigneur was in pretty rough condition and needed extensive work in the cellar and more importantly, in their Southern Rhone Valley vineyards. In 1992, his son Frederic Duseigneur along with his brother Bernard Duseigneur took over managing the property. They changed their vineyard management techniques starting with the 2004 vintage and became certified biodynamique by Ecocert three years later.
They are also a member of Biodyvin, the International biodynamic vine growing syndicate. in 2007, they brought in Philippe Cambie to consult on the vineyards and wine making. Philippe is arguably one of the top if not the top consultant for grape cultivation in the Southern Rhone and specifically Grenache.
Domaine Duseigneur became so well-known for their biodynamic outlook and vineyard practices that in 2012, Frederic Duseigneur founded his own company that focused on consulting other vintners on biodynamic farming techniques. In 2013, Bernard Duseigneur bought 12 hectares of vines from Domaine Monpertuis. Starting in 2014, the wines of Domaine Duseigneur will be made in the former cellars of Montpertuis.
The small winery in Montpertuis is unassuming and the wines over deliver. On our recent summer visit, tasting everything available (which is not a lot), we were impressed with the value:quality of the wines. The care in the vineyards, the approach in the cellar, the completeness of the wines....we assumed the costs would be much more.
Domaine Duseigneur owns 12 hectares of vines in Chateauneuf du Pape, 11 hectares in the Cotes du Rhone appellation and 5 hectares in Lirac. They also produce an IGP. In Chateauneuf du Pape, their terroir is a mix of rocks, pebbles, red clay and sandy soils. All the vineyards of Domaine Duseigneur are farmed using only organic and Bio-Dynamic vineyard management techniques. They have old vines some of which were planted as far back as 1885.
Domaine Duseigneur produces 2 red Chateauneuf du Pape wines and 1 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc .
Domaine Duseigneur Catarina is produced from a blend of about 85% Grenache , 10% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre . The wine is aged in cement tanks.
Domaine Duseigneur Joanna is made from 100% old vine Grenache. The grapes are selected from specific parcels of very old vines. Some of the vines used for this cuvee planted in the Colombis lieu dit are over 130 years of age! The wine is aged for 18 months in demi-muids. The production is less than 175 cases per vintage.
Domaine Duseigneur Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc Catarina is made from an interesting blend of 50% Bourboulenc and 50% Calirette. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks. The production is close to 200 cases per year.
Domaine Duseigneur is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. Young vintages can be popped and poured, or decanted for an hour so. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment. Domaine Duseigneur is best served with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, roasted, braised, stewed dishes, sausage and cassoulet. Domaine Chante Perdrix is also good with Asian dishes, hearty fish courses like tuna, mushrooms pasta, eggplant and tomatoes.
The white wine of Domaine Duseigneur is best served with a myriad of different seafood dishes, shellfish, crab, lobster, sushi, sashimi, chicken, pork and veal, as well as Asian cuisine.
Domaine Duseigneur also produces red and white wine from vineyards they own in the Cotes du Rhone Villages and Lirac appellations.
Château les Croisille
The adventure of the Croisille family began in 1979 when Cécile and Bernard rented an abandoned property on the land of Causses de Luzech. They cleared and brought back to life these lands that gradually become parcels where the Malbec is king.
Their son Germain joined them in 2007, followed by Nicolas, his childhood friend in 2010 and finally Simon, the last of the family who will join the team in 2015.
Today, the estate boasts 30 hectares of vines and the young generation, passionate about wine, brings a new vision to viticulture as well as new ambitions for the wines of the estate.
Some projects have already been completed (certification in Organic Farming since 2013) and others are underway as the current revision of the range, which comes from a new way of thinking wine: to vinify by Terroir and to understand the richness of this great diversity of limestone soils to get a little closer to the purity of great wines.
In a recent tasting of one hundred wines from Cahors, Decanter Magazine crowned only four “outstanding”. Château les Croisille’s single vineyard aromatic blockbuster, Divin, was the top scorer. Forget Argentina, Cahor is the Malbec Mecca. And this family-owned, full-bodied red from 30 year old organically grown vines that has been aged in French oak for 18 months is a towering colossus. Andrew Jefford described it as a “benchmark” and his fellow colleagues described it as “polished”, “voluptuous” and “meaty”. What blew us away was its sheer complexity.
Château les Croisille's single vineyard blockbuster 'Divin' is a 100% Malbec crafted by a small family domaine from 30 year old vines farmed to organic principles on the calcareous clay terraces with a 30 day fermentation in open vats and 18 months maturation in fine grained French oak. We’d recommend decanting and serving with an equally outstanding steak.
"My mother transmitted her passion to me. The call of the vines runs through my veins, as it does throughout my family. My profession is a calling. I love the demands it makes on me, and I can’t imagine working in any way other than striving for excellence.
I’d like to tell you about my intimate self, about this daily bond which ties me to my vineyard. Being in contact with the vines makes me feel uplifted. I delight in these silent and bonding conversations.
My vineyard gets all my attention. I am aware of its slightest shiver, a hardly noticeable sign of its passionate mood.
I am an incurable vineyard lover, responding to its every whim, always looking to satisfy it and relentlessly improve this mutual and growing love.
This game of seduction lasts until the ultimate moment of the grape harvest, when in a final embrace it offers me, with its clear, fresh and delicate juice, the beginnings of another great happiness.
With a sigh of satisfaction, its dies away and it is immediately reborn anew, more seductive than ever.
In the intimacy of my cellar, it expresses its best flavors and will soon start to prepare itself for the day it becomes famous." - Vincent
At the heart of the Côte des Bar, Vincent Couche is one of the stars who passionately cultivates 13 hectares of vineyard biodynamically on 2 terroirs:
Buxeuil - 10 hectares: the vines consist mainly of Pinot Noir. On the advice of Claude Bourguignon, Chardonnay plants were planted on some plots. The exhibition is mainly South and West with steep hillsides and the Seine below. This sector benefits from a specific microclimate: high temperatures while maintaining a certain humidity thanks to the presence of the river at the foot of the vines. The soil is clayey-limestone or marly clay depending on the plots, the planting is high (about 10 100 feet / hectare) to increase the competition between the vines and to obtain better grapes with more maturity and taste.
Montgueux - 3 hectares of Chardonnay. Cretaceous chalky soil with only 40 cm of soil on chalk.
Vincent studied the needs of his vineyard thoroughly and gave them energy and well-being with biodynamic treatments: decoctions of medicinal plants (valerian, horsetail, nettle, willow, sariette Mountains, flowers of Reine-des-Prés, oregano), horn droppings, crystallized silica sprays (quartz reduced powder) and composting.
The thermoregulated winery, the vaulted cellars and the oak barrels, contribute to a harmonious vinification of the wines. Throughout the winemaking, the wines are tasted regularly. The alcoholic fermentation carried out with indigenous yeasts requires special attention. The wines are vinified with a tiny amount of sulfur, or even without sulfur.
Domaine de L'R
The Domaine de l'R, is a viticulture in phase with the elements that compose it: soil, water and ... air.
The management of the vineyard is done as naturally as possible by working the soil and protecting the vines of mildew and powdery mildew with sulfur and copper.
The grapes are hand-picked and the grapes are transported by crates.
In the winery, the vats are made by gravity in tanks made of raw cement. Reassembly and racking Logo-ab When juices and wines ask for it. Sulfur is there only if it is necessary ... Tasting, omnipresent during vinification and raising, leads the decisions.
The Domaine de l'R was founded by Frédéric Sigonneau in 2007 and has quickly risen to the top as a Cabernet Franc producer.
Frédéric and his parents have been living next door to Bernard Baudry, he was a childhood friend of Mathieu, Bernard's son. He then worked at Fabrice Gasnier, an organic (and now biodynamic) vigneron 4 km away. Then at the end of the wine school in 2002 he went to Spain where he stayed 2 years, working on biodynamicly-farmed un-grafted vineyards. Back in France, he had an interlude of 2 years working in a conventional domaine before setting up his own domaine in 2007. His wines, which were then still under the radar by the mainstream wine media, were discovered by Olivier Grosjean, an out-of-the-box French wine writer during his visit at the Salon d'Angers in 2009.
Since that time, his wine production has increased a little bit, but the demand for his wines have skyrocketed. We are excited to launch the wines in the region as we are sure everyone will feel all that we feel when they taste Frédéric's wines.
Domaine M. & S. Bouchet
This small estate in Montreuil-Bellay (15 km south of Saumur) has been farmed according to biodynamic principles since 1962. In fact, Matthieu's father, François, was a leading French consultant in biodynamics along with the likes of Joly, Leflaive and Chapoutier and wrote the how-to book on using its principles in the vineyard. He consulted for Domaine Leflaive, Domaine Leroy, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and many other estates in Europe. When he wasn't flying about helping winemakers remember how many times to stir their silica solution in each direction, he was at home making wine with his son Mathieu at their tiny Domaine de Chateau Gaillard.
Matthieu and Sylvanie Bouchet took over the 6 ha family winery located at the place called La Salle in 1990. Matthieu and Sylvanie chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and continue to farm the same as one might imagine. They still farm according to the strictest principles of Biodynamics, which involve, among other things, the complete absence of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or additives of any kind. The wines are never racked, fined, or filtered before they are bottled. Bouchet continues to age the wines for several years only in large neutral oak casks (some 100+ year old), resulting in very little oak influence in the wines. The wines have been labeled as “Vin de France” since 2008. The estate's vines, which are some of the oldest in the region (some more than 80 years old) produce naturally low yields, which means that the estate produces only about 2000 cases of wine each year, only about 100 of which make it into the United States. They produce a tiny amount of Chenin Blanc, Grolleau and Cabernet Franc grown on clay-limestone soils, the wines are all aged in oak barrels in a tuffeau cellar (this freestone was also used to build Les Châteaux de la Loire).
They are happy to live at the rhythm of the seasons, in a preserved environment, surrounded by nature and animals, they make wines for the enjoyment of those who taste them, in harmony with nature, although some years are less easy that others.
Tiny amounts of wine are available from Bouchet, so please understand if the 25 cases of Chenin Blanc we receive every year does not get popped for your pleasure!
The wines from the Bonnet Huteau estate are carrying the torch for the renaissance happening in Muscadet at the moment. Organic production, separate wines for each of the different terroirs in the estate and careful ageing on lees make for a fascinating insight into the fresh, mineral wines of this lauded region.
Run by Remi Bonnet and his brother Jean-Jacques, the estate is based around the ruins of a château dating to the middle ages and has 48 hectares under vines, with some 42 Ha planted with Muscadet (Melon de Bourgogne).
This already substantial estate has further increased with the purchase of 10 ha of the neighboring Chateau des Gautronnieres which the brothers have converted to organic farming. The “Les Laures” is next to Guy Bossard’s “Expressions de Granit” parcel and is entirely granite soil. Biodynamically farmed, the vineyards are grassed through and all grapes are hand-harvested. Yields are held to 50/55 hL/ha and attention is paid to keeping the bunches as aerated as possible to ensure thicker, healthier skinsand ever greater ripeness, traits encouraged with ‘sierra’ and manual thinning and regular increases in leaf height throughout the growing season. All cuvées are matured with their lees in suspension, gaining further complexity and giving wines with finesse, fruit and volume.
Muscadet "Les Gautronnières"
Expression of a terroir made of green rocks and amphilolitic siliceous-clay soil. Low yields of 40hL/ha. Slow pressing without prior crushing, only indigenous yeasts used for fermentation to express the terroir, matured on lees for 6 months.
The Goulaine is harvested in the basin of the river Goulaine. This wine is the result of a rigourous work and of a maturing on lees for at least 18 months. Very low yields of 30hL/ha. Traditional thermo-regulated vinification, only indigenous yeasts used for fermentation, matured on lees for 18-20 months.
Muscadet "Les Laures" Granit de Vallet
This Granit of Vallet gives to this cuvee its distinctive character, produced on a shallow and stony soil. This wine reveals citrus and ripe fruits aroma. Low yields of 35hL/ha. Traditional thermo-regulated vinification, only indigenous yeasts used for fermentation, matured on lees for 6 months.
Muscadet "Les Levraudière"
Specially selected from a gneiss terroir, this Muscadet is a fruity and expressive wine, combining great suppleness with lots of coolness. Yields of 55hL/ha. Slow pressing without prior crushing, thermo-regulated vinification, matured on lees for 6 months.
Muscadet "Les Dabinières"
This cuvee is the natural expression of a terroir made of schist and gneiss. Sandy soils with a slight infusion of clay. Low yields of 40hL/ha. Traditional thermo-regulated vinification, only indigenous yeasts used for fermentation, matured on lees for 6 months.
Domaine Cellier des Cray
Located about 10 miles southeast of Chambéry, the little village of Chignin resides at the foot of the high limestone escarpments in the southern part of the Bauges massif, central eastern France, in the Savoie region (eastern part of the Rhône-Alpes, bordering the neighboring Switzerland and Valle d'Aosta in Italy).
Adrien Berlioz took over the little family estate called “Cellier des Cray” at the beginning of 2006 and made it one of the most prestigious domaines of Chignin. The Domaine encompasses about 4.5 hectares of vineyards organically farmed, located in a "lieu dit" called "Les Viviers" near Chignin, a small village between Albertville and Chambéry, at about 390 meters above sea level.
All the vines are planted in a warm Terroir composed of rock scree on the surface and calcareous-clay sub-soil. The very steep slopes’ vineyards, with 50% of inclination for some of them, are planted with grapes such as Jacquère and Roussanne for the white and Mondeuse for the red.
Adrien works with respect for the environment using organic techniques tending towards Biodynamic, that he adapts to each parcels depending on the treatment needed to obtain the healthiest vines and grapes. Atop of not using any herbicides or inorganic fertilizers, working and plowing the ground are done with small tools to avoid tamping the soil and in the same time allow the upper ground layers and roots to breath. Everything is done mainly by hand and using a tractor will be too dangerous anyway due to the steepness of the slope in certain parcels.
This young “vigneron” is animated by great passion and rare humility. His wines transcribe the sincerity and detailed oriented attitude of the people from Savoie, but also the richness and complexity of their terroir of origin. Adrien gives his vines a paternal attention translated into his wines with great attention to produce the best this mountainous land can offer.
Adrien Berlioz “Cellier des Cray” produces about 5 wines including 3 in the US market. We hope you like what we've picked to introduce.
Château de la Selve
Originally, Château de la Selve was a fortified house first on the frontier of the Empire and then of the Kingdom of France.
It then became the hunting lodge of a famous family from the Vivarais, the Dukes de Joyeuse, before being transformed, century after century, into a farm.
Built during the 13th century, it has the typical architecture of all houses and castles of the Bas-Vivarais.
Located on the bank of the Chassezac, the main Ardèche’s tributary, it benefits from a unique and protected environment.
In 1990, this magnificent house became the property of my parents, Jean-Régis and Magdeleine Chazallon. Today, a wing of the castle has been converted into five Gîtes de France (from 3 to 6 persons). In a large yard planted with trees, they offer a heaven of peace in the heart of the increasingly toured Ardèche.
Domaine Louis Chenu Père et Filles
François le Saint
Established in 1749 in the heart of Sancerre, Domaine Fouassier is one of the oldest wine growing families in the Loire Valley with a history that spans several generations. For centuries they have dedicated themselves to preserving and capturing the terroir and the noble Sauvignon grape varietal through an extensive range of appellation wines.
The Fouassier family’s rich winemaking history included Jules Fouassier, a very influential grape grower during the Phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century. He was the first to utilize copper and sulphur on vines to combat disease, and also single-handedly planted the famous Clos Paradis vineyard in 1902. Jules eldest son, Gustave, won fame by participating in and winning a wine competition in Paris during the summer of 1923. At that time, the rest of France was unfamiliar with the wines of Sancerre, so this victory proved invaluable for showcasing the potential of the region. The newer parts of the winery were built in 1972 when the old cellars – dating back to the 16th century – became too small to accommodate expanding estate holdings. That same year, the Domaine changed their philosophy concerning the vinification process, as they strived to combine the best traditional practices with more modern techniques.
The new century began with the arrival of Fouassier’s 10th generation, Benoit and Paul. In continuing to honor the terroir as their ancestors did, the brothers took things one step further, converting to organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking. In 2011, they were certified by ECOCERT and BIODYVIN, both of whom recognized Domaine Fouassier as 100% compliant with all international organic and biodynamic guidelines.
Today, the estate is comprised of nearly 56 hectares, 80% of which are planted to Sauvignon Blanc and 20% to Pinot Noir, making them the largest landholders in the appellation. The vines range in age from 10-50 years. Planted across varying elevations spanning 150-300 meters above sea level, they primarily enjoy southeastern exposures. Extremely complex soils vary from vineyard to vineyard, some with a high concentration of limestone and deep layers of calcareous clay or Kimmeridgian marl, and some flinty with stones and layers of compacted chalk that contribute to the famous minerality found in the white wines from the region.
Aggressive pruning is carried out multiples times throughout the year to help keep yields low and ensure that only the finest fruit remains on the vine. The grapes are mechanically harvested at their peak between mid September and early October, depending on the vineyard, allowing them to work quickly and capture the fruit at its peak.
State-of-the-art machinery is utilized throughout the winemaking process, but tradition is not forgotten. Upon reception at the winery, the grapes are gently pressed using a pneumatic press. The free-run juice is transferred to stainless steel tanks by use of gravity to undergo fermentation using only ambient and natural yeasts from the vineyard. The white wines are briefly aged on fine lees to add complexity, while the reds spend a fair amount of time in French oak barrels. In keeping with tradition, all work done in the cellar is based on the lunar calendar.
Born in Slovenia in 1977, Bojan Kobal started his career when he graduated as engineer in Food Science and Technology from the University of Ljubljana Biotechnical University in 1996.
Since 2002 Bojan has worked as a winemaker and wine judge and in 2004 he joined Angela Muir and her winemaking team at the famous Ptuj Winery (Pullus).
From the time Bojan joined the winery, Ptuj wines began receiving the highest honors. They won over 195 Grand Gold, gold and silver medals at competitions around the world, including San Francisco, Concours Mondial de Bruexelles; Concours Mondial du Sauvignon; AWC Vienna, Japan Wine Challange, Vinoforum; Vinalies; Mundus Vini, China Wine Awards, Selections Mondiales des Vins Canada;Decanter; Vino Ljubljana and Vino Slovenia. He is the most awarded winemaker in the Slovenia and beyond.
Bojan started his own Kobal brand in 2015. He continues to put the wines from the selected vineyards of Slovenian Styria (Štajerska) on the world’s wine map. The majority of his wines come from the vineyards located on steep slopes of Haloze that consist predominantly of marl and from the vines that average more than 35 years in age. All of site’s complex influences result in unique traits of our wine, 24 hours long (or even longer) cold maceration accentuates their fruitiness; they exhibit freshness and reflect the fingerprint of nature – a distinctive Štajerska terroir.
Created by nature, recreated by human
Like the climate, soil and location of the vineyards, Kobal Wines are exceptional and unique. They come from cooler climate area and they express varietal characteristics beautifully. Our wines narrate the most sincere story of nature’s creation and human creative intervention. The result of such harmonious relationship is the wine that enthrals all the receptors that serve taste and smell, even the most sensitive and sophisticated palate.
Carefully selected vineyards
Slovenian Styria (Štajerska) wine–growing region and Haloze subdistrict rank among the most exclusive wine-growing sites in Europe. These outstanding sites had been renowned for millennia, as there are evidences about continuous tradition of viticulture and viniculture in this area from the Roman period, throughout the centuries to the time of Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and to this day.
The soil is rich in marl and vines are more than 35 years old in average, so their roots go deep into the ground, therefore they can absorb a rich minerality of the soil and accumulate it in grapes that finally results in full and sophisticated taste of our wines.
Each varietal is treated individually
The creation of wine always reflects different levels of grape ent levels of cts reation in full taste and ripeness. In this manner, we are able to capture the whole potential of the individual varietal. In grape processing, cold maceration plays a key role in the extraction of aromatic and mineral elements into wine. Our wines are enriched with various methods of maturation, such as maturation in inox tanks or in wooden barrels (usually oak) and they are always aged on fine lees (bâtonnage method).
Wine – the most precious spice of life
We create our wines according to strong belief that wine can become the most precious spice of life if consumed responsibly. Every wine, no matter where on Earth it was grown, has its own moment of a special glow. We believe that some of our wines will become a cherished and irreplaceable spice of a moment in your life, be it a gastronomic experience or romantic atmosphere, hanging out with your friends or simply enjoying some time alone accompanied by a glass of excellent wine. Get to know our Sauvignon Blanc, Yellow Muscat, Pinot Grigio, Šipon (Furmint), Muškatna penina (Muscat sparkling wine), and Haložan (a blend of carefully selected varieties of white wines).
Kobal Wines – near future plans
We are planning to extend the Kobal brand to a range of limited edition bottlings of signature wines, representing more complex, mature wines with even more distinctive terroir. On the wine labels of limited edition will be marked particular and the most outstanding wine-growing location for each varietal and corresponding toponym (Grand Cru). We will complement aroma and taste of these mature wines by fermentation and maturation in barrels made of a variety of different woods and with different degrees of “toast” on the barrel. Furthermore, an exclusive wine liqueur, which is being prepared according to our own patented recipe and is matured in wooden barrels, will soon be launched into the market as the best accompaniment to chocolate delights.
In 1986 Zlatan Plenković founded the famous Zlatan Otok winery, based on the rich wine tradition of Dalmatian islands. The current brand name was established in 1991. In addition to the traditional Plavac Mali grape variety, Dalmatian wine producers have enriched their vineyards to include such other varieties as Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and whites wines such as Pošip, Chardonnay, Prč and Bogdanuša. Zlatan Otok is also well known for its unique restaurant and port Bilo Idro.
Zlatan Otok vineyards are located on the southern slopes of the island Hvar and on Makarska vineyards below Mt Biokovo (see map above). Vineyards in the wine-growing positions of the southern slopes of the island, extends from Milna - Sveta Nedjelja - Zavala. Slopes reach angles of 40 to 60%. Variety Plavac Mali prevails. Because of the rough conditions, processing is done exclusively manual and small vineyards yields are reached - about 0.70 kg per vine. Protection of the vineyard with chemicals is unnecessary because of the specificity of the climate, soil and growing shape.
Slovenia is bordered to the north by Austria, to the west by Italy, to the south by Croatia and to the east by Hungary. Slovenia used to be part of Yugoslavia and wine has been produced here since before Roman times. So, why don't we know about all of this rich history? Because for decades until the early 1990's, Slovenia was under communist rule. Their wines were made under government-controlled cooperatives. There really was not much produced with a focus for high quality or export. As Slovenia became independent from their communist rule, innovation in winemaking, vineyard replanting and experimentation brought forth some fast, delicious results.
Pullus wines, from Ptujska Klet (Ptuj), combines rich winemaking tradition with modern technology. Ptujska Klet is Slovenia’s oldest winery and located within the city of Ptuj, in the Styria region. Viticulture in Ptuj and the surrounding area dates to 1239, when monks established the St. Francis Monastery and built the first winery there. As the oldest wine cellar, Ptuj has a wealth of experience, with vineyards extending across some of the world’s most eminent winegrowing locations. Pullus also claims to have the oldest grape vine in the world (400 years old). If the vintage in 2017 is good enough, we will bring in a good amount of a liter of rosé of this old vine Žametovka.
One of the regions in Slovenia is Štajerska, where the terrain is hilly, with marly clay soils. The climate is continental with cooling influences from the nearby pre-Alps. Here, at about the 42nd latitude, just south of Austria, the climate and soils are ideal for aromatic white varieties and they make up about 85% of Ptuj Winery’s wines. Bojan Kobal brought this winery to the forefront in this area of the world as the winemaker here. He is beginning to accumulate quite an international reputation for his wines produced here. He recently departed to produce his own wines Kobal and passed the reigns to another. He grew forty different wines with the estate and he employed modern technology, but he also tried to make the wine as natural as possible by limiting the sulfur to a third of the amount traditionally used. The wines produced there are in a clean, fruity style. Varietals like Traminer, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Welshriesling, Furmint, Pinot Blanc & Muller Thurgau produced here are outstanding.
In 1890, Koloman Enjingi planted the family's first vineyard in the village of Hrnjevac, on the slopes of mount Krndija, setting the prestigious family tradition of grape growing and wine production.
He passed his love for the vineyards and wine to his son Martin, and Martin did the same thing – his son Vaclav, Koloman's grandson, took over the family business. The third generation of the Enjingi family continued the family business in spite of the stormy war times.
Finally, in 1957, Koloman’s great-grandson Ivan took over the family's vineyard with 2 000 vines. Year by year planting more vineyards, fighting the unfavorable social and political climate, he became the first Croatian private wine producer.
In 1972 he started selling bottled wine, instead of falling into the common practice of selling bulk wine to other regions. His strategy turned to be a success.
Following his own philosophy of winemaking and his love for nature, vineyards and wine, he continued working and creating a prestigious Croatian wine brand.
Wines of the Enjingi family are traditionally miraculous. Nothing has changed their winemaking philosophy, neither history nor social and political climate in which they were made.
Winemaking has always been tempted by unpredictable nature, but hard working and experienced people learned how to take advantage of it. Through the years they have established an authentic winemaking tradition.
The Enjingi family celebrates 117 years of winemaking. No matter how strongly they follow their own tradition, their success turns to be a modern guide in the whole winegrowing area.
Overlooking the valley of Požega, the vineyards of the Enjingi family today spread on 50 hectares of prime grape growing land in the Kutjevo appellation.
Vineyards, with an average age of 15 years, are planted on the southern slopes of the mount Krndija, on diverse soils, from sandy loams to extremely rocky soils, which give great complexity and fine minerality to our wines. Some of the vineyards are more than 35 years old and carefully managed for the exceptional quality that old vines give.
Younger vineyards are densely planted, up to 8500 vines per hectare, with every vine yielding less than one kilo of grapes, which in turn gives small berries with high sugars and concentrated flavors.
With low yields, 7-8 tons per hectare, and in special harvests less than 5 tons per hectare, we attempt to get the most from Graševina, Riesling, Zweigelt, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Muller Thurgau grapes.
In order to make our wines to be the true expression of the land, climate and tradition, and foremost the source of pleasure and health to its consumers, all of our grapes and wines are organically produced.
Favorable climate, natural richness of the soil and rational and dedicated vineyard management enables us to produce healthy grapes using only organic fertilizers and for the disease control sulphur and copper in minimum quantities.
Slovenia’s winemaking tradition has historically been influenced by Austria to the north and Italy to the west. Despite the emergence of celebrity winemakers, such as Ales Kristancic of Movia, and recent wine media attention, Slovenia is still one of Europe’s greatest wine secrets. Slovenia has been producing quality wines for centuries, and since becoming independent in 1991 it has become a source of highly-redarded private-production wines. Best example – Pullus Late Harvest Riesling from Stajerska Slovenia won the Best of Show Dessert Wine Award at the 2009 San Francisco International Wine Competition.
The Podravje Region (aka Stajerska Slovenia) Stajerska (or Styria) is the largest of three major grape-growing regions in Slovenia. It comprises the northeast corner of the country. Hot summers, cold and dry winters, steep terrain and mainly gravel and clay soil make Stajerska the ideal terroir to produce fresh, crisp, aromatic whites, elegant and gentle reds and unbelievable dessert and icewines.
The best vineyard sites are on hillsides with southern exposure, and Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Traminer and Yellow Muscat produced here are outstanding. Stajerska is also capable to deliver excellent Burgundy style Pinot Noir as well as Zweigelt and Blaufrankisch.
In the 12th century, the French Carthusian monks selected this area for its pristine nature to established their monastery.
On southern slopes of Klokocovnik and Lipogav they planted the first Pinot Noir grapes.
The cooler climate and special soil composition of Stajerska wine regions offer ideal conditions for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Welch Reisling,
Traminer and Pinot Gris.
Today the wine makers Marko Podkubovšek and his partner Jurij Brumec of Sanctum continue this tradition in creating extraordinary wines with the unique flavors of the local terroir. They are excellent hosts who possess an amazing affinity and for wine, music and culture.
The Bura family are based in Potemje, first village of Dingač, and like most families in the area, they have been growing grapes and making wine for generations. During the communist era, most of the harvest had to be surrendered to the local cooperative, still responsible for around 60% of the region’s more indifferent production.
Bura is a Croatian winery; Niko Bura is sometimes described as a garagiste winemaker and in 2009, Croatian wines took eight golds at the Decanter Wine Awards, which was more than, say, New Zealand or Chile.
The vineyards are on the Pelješac Peninsula (near the Dalmatian coast), reputed home of the best Plavac Mali wines. Note that Plavac Mali (the name means "small blue", describing the grapes) is related to Zinfandel, being a cross of Zin and an ancient grape (now little grown) called Dobričić.
The Pelješac peninsula runs parallel to the Dalmatian coastline like a finger, with just a tiny sliver of adjoining land stopping it from becoming an island. It’s a dry, mountainous landscape, with quiet villages and sandy beaches spread around the coast.
The Dingač vines cling precariously to the mountain-side – these must be some of the steepest vineyards in the world, perhaps aside from the Mosel valley. The vines are bush-trained (in other words, not trained at all), and must be entirely hand-tended. Farming is mostly organic. Part of the Dingač character comes from letting the grapes “bake” in the sun and allowing a proportion of the harvest to raisin on the vines. The noonday heat here is ferocious, but there is really no better way to understand how these wines gain their unique character, than to bake in it too.
Driving in a van on a road that resembles more of a donkey path and sleeping in a seaside villa is a "must" for any wine aficionado.
Niko and his nephew, Boris, make some of the most interesting wines we have ever tasted. If you're lucky enough to get some of their Dingac Plavac Mali, it will blow your mind. It rivals the best Baroli in Piedmont, period.
On our visit, Niko shared a story of a famous producer from Piedmont who visited and spoke with Niko about his wines. They did not speak much even during the tour of vineyards and sampled many wines in the cellar. The Piedmontese sampled Dingac for the first time and expressed eagerly that it was the one of the most balanced and distinctive wines he'd ever experienced in his life and to this day is an avid collector. Later, Niko learned it was Angelo Gaja.
Remember Angelo's words when you see that Bura is a masculine wine of high extract and up to 15% alcohol, with intense black fruit but as elegant as any Nebbiolo that you'll ever taste. It is unbelievable that wines this high in alcohol can have finesse.