Ghislaine and Laurent Combier Maurice Combier purchased the Domaine's original 10 hectares of vines north of Pont-de-l'Isère in 1962. During the 1960s, he had an allergic reaction to a chemical used in fruit orchards and vineyards to fight plant diseases. In an experiment, he adopted organic farming in half of his property to learn the processes necessary to keep the fruit healthy, naturally. By the 1980s, the entire estate was transformed to organic farming, and the family sold their fruit to the cooperative at Tain l'Hermitage. In 1990, when son Laurent finished oenology school, they left the cooperative and have made their own distinctive style of Crozes-Hermitage ever since. Certified biodynamic farming, low yields, hand-harvesting,and rigorous selection are at the heart of his graceful wines.
Peter and Brigitte Pliger began producing wines under the Kuen hof name in 1990. Their six hectares of land–located just outside the town of Bressanone, a short distance from the Austrian border–have been in the family for two hundred years and planted to vines since the twelfth century.Perfectly situated at 600 meters above sea level for the traditional varietals, Veltliner, Sylvaner, Riesling and Traminer, the schisty soils produce nuanced, lengthy, highly aromatic wines. The term, Eisacktaler, is the German name for this former Austrian region known as the Valle Isarco in Italian.Peter practices his own form of sustainable agriculture, combining organic and bio-dynamic principles along with his Zen training to find the best mix for each growing season's need. The winemaking is geared towards preserving the vibrant minerality and structure his soils provide resulting in wines that are completely dry, with a complelling richness and complexity. His total production is fewer than 3,000
The peacock at Château Revelette (photo: Greg Moore) Here's an interesting snippet from Provence. Here Peter Fischer, proprietor of Château Revelette talks about his organic farming, the importance of genetic diversity in his vineyards, and treating vine disease without chemicals.
Lucie Donze in her cellar Lucie & Stéphane Donze are the owners of this small estate in the Côte de Bourg. Both were successful in their respective businesses; Lucie was a landscape architect, and Stéphane was in maritime transport. In 1994 they bought the old vineyards and run-down farmhouse of Chateau Martinat with borrowed money. Three years of planning went into the career change. There are only about 24 acres (American) under vine. These hold the Merlot and Cabernet vines which were planted in the late nineteen fifties. The Malbec plantings are much older. The farming is “Lutte Raisonée,” with grass between the rows, and the harvests are by hand.
Greg explains all about “Grand Cru” in Germany. Just as there are “Grand Cru” Burgundies such as Montrachet and Corton-Charlemagne, there are Grand Cru German wines as well. Here's Greg Moore to tell you all about them. From our “visiting winegrower” event with Jochen Ratzenberger.
Sounds rather pedantic, no?But imagine this: Say one of the bottles is “Ragú® Tomato Sauce,” and the other is a jar of fresh marinara from a little old lady in Italy, made from her own tomatoes. Same difference.The bottle on the left was produced by a person farming his own fruit. And over the growing season he was constantly in the vineyard thinning leaves and making sure each grape met optimal ripeness. The fruit was harvested by hand, and taken to the winery with great care, where it was hand-sorted to make sure only the ripest fruit went to the crusher.This bottle of wine also states who grew, produced, and bottled the wine, as well as where this all took place. The bottle on the right tells us nothing about where the fruit was grown (other than a vague “Napa Valley” AVA). The technical details are spelled out on the bottle. “Optimum Brix” (a measure of sugar in the grapes) is listed (proudly) at 25 degrees. More on this in a moment.Soil type is listed as “alluvial,” which doesn't
Paolo DeMarchi is one of the most important wine producers in Italy. He is one of a handful of thoughtful growers who were key "inventors" of modern Chianti. Imagine the challenge of redefining a very old (and at the time, sleepy) wine region. Most wine sold here had to be sold in wicker-basket-bottles because novelty trumped quality. To this day, there are those who think of Chianti as thin, skeletal wine, with a handy empty bottle, useful for holding a candle. But in the seventies, when Paolo came of age, he and a few others recognized that the entire area had to be reorganized with a view towards quality over quantity. Just as important, there had to be a respect for tradition, or else the raison d'être would disappear–there would be nothing distinctive about the wines, and the wine-producing economy risked collapse. We often speak about “Old World” wines as being an encapsulation, if you will, of a small region's cultural, and agricultural evolution; less “product”
Jochen Ratzenberger in the cellar (photo: Greg Moore) Weingut Ratzenberger is in the beautiful town of Bacharach-Steeg on the left bank of the Rhine, about a half-hour from the Frankfurt airport. It’s our favorite first stop in Germany. The guest apartment is one of the most comfortable places we stay, with the view through the bedroom window dominated by a wall of Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) vines marching up the towering Steeger St. Jost. Nowhere does Riesling more eloquently describe its home: the hill that the Romans called "Bacchi Ara," the altar of Bacchus (Bacharach). The “Altar of Bacchus” — the view of Bacharach from across the Rhine (photo: Greg Moore)
Michel Ampeau in Meursault (photo: Greg Moore) The story we heard was that Robert Ampeau once turned away a swaggering Michelin three-star chef who arrived unannounced to taste wine. But we'd also heard stories of the five incredible cellars under the rue du Cromin, and that Robert’s son Michel was funny and smart. Meeting the Ampeaus was an epiphany, and the the stories about Robert and Michel Ampeau “holding back the wines until they was ready to drink” weren’t true at all. They simply didn’t care whether or not anyone bought them, as much as they cared about the weather, and the vines, and their annual struggle with nature to produce them.