Luca De Marchi at Proprietà Sperino For more than thirty years at Isole e Olena in Chianti Classico, Paolo De Marchi has produced some of the greatest wines ever to come out of Italy. But he always nurtured another dream: to bring back the wine of Proprietà Sperino, the original De Marchi family estate in Lessona, in the Alpine foothills of northern Piemonte, where the last vintage had been harvested in 1952. If you scoop up the soil in Lessona only a half-hour after a heavy rain, it runs through your fingers like sand in an hourglass. The climate is dry, and a cool breeze blows down from the Alps to the north. A hundred years ago, the wines grown here by Felice Sperino, Paolo De Marchi’s great, great uncle, were the most expensive wines in Italy. Today, after twenty years of arduous work replanting the vineyards and renovating the winery, Paolo and his son Luca have given new life to Proprietà Sperino, and are now the vanguard of the renaissance of this historic wine growing
Catherine Thibon and Nestor Jean-Pierre Thibon’s family has operated the Mas de Libian in Saint-Marcel d’Ardèche since 1670. He and his cardiologist wife, Jacqueline, have three daughters: Hélène, Catherine, and Cécile. In 1995, Hélène, Catherine, and Hélène’s husband Alain Macagno assumed responsibility for viticulture and winemaking, and began to estate-bottle the wine, rather than sell it in bulk to négociants. Long before it was fashionable, the Mas de Libian was an organic farm, and in 2005 Hélène introduced the demanding practice of biodynamics. Catherine does much of the vineyard work herself, with the help of “Nestor,” a charming Comptois draft horse who is encouraged by his canine stable mates “Sophia” and “Éclair.”
The sun had just set. Fireflies coming out. The nightime shadows not quite overtaking the view. Evening in San Pancrazio, staying at the Corzano e Paterno agriturismo.The sheep are still speaking to one another in the fields. My wife's arms around me. Life is good. If you’re heading to Tuscany, stay here. Fall in love again. - DM
Anne Sery Martindale in Oregon Anne Sery Martindale was born on the island of Réunion, an overseas French Department in the Indian Ocean about 450 miles east of Madagascar. Her father was a diplomat and a serious collector of Burgundy, so the family dinner table often featured bottles from producers like Ghislaine Barthod, Christophe Roumier, and Louis Boillot, which sparked Anne’s own passion for Pinot Noir, and led her to pursue winemaking as a profession. In 2008, after graduating from the Faculté de Bordeaux, where she studied with the famed enologist Denis Dubourdieu, Anne moved to Oregon, and continued her training with Laurent Montalieu at Soléna Estate in Yamhill. Currently, Anne is a winemaker at NW Wine Company in McMinnville, which gives her access to some of the best grapes in Oregon, as well as a state of the art facility for custom winemaking.
Richard, Anthony, and Pascal Jaume in Vinsobres The modern history of this eighty-hectare estate in Vinsobres began with Henri Chauvet and Baron Le Roy, who, in the 1920s, introduced the idea of “appellation contrôlée” in France. Henri Chauvet’s son-in-law Pierre Jaume was the driving force in the development of the estate, but it was Pierre’s son Claude who was the first to estate-bottle the wines.Grandsons Pascal and Richard took over in the 1980s, and have continued to enlarge and improve Domaine Jaume; with carefully considered purchases, like the vineyard they call “Altitude 420,” and the “Clos des Échelas.” Richard’s son Anthony joined them in 2010. The estate’s unwavering commitment to sustainable, organic viticulture is outlined in its “Charter Vinéa Natura,” which every producer in the world should adopt.
Jean-François Germain in Meursault Perrières Henri Germain established his Domaine in 1973, when he left Château de Chorey les Beaune and moved to Meursault. The first vineyard was a small parcel in Meursault Charmes, but the estate grew substantially when Henri married Paulette Pillot, who had inherited vineyards in Chassagne-Montrachet, including an exceptional parcel in the sub-climat of Fairendes in Morgeot. Today there are eight hectares of vines in Meursault, Beaune, and Chassagne-Montrachet, producing about 30,000 bottles annually, of which 70% is white wine. Henri Germain retired years ago, but his modest, soft-spoken son, Jean-François, continues the production of some of the finest wines in all of the Côte de Beaune.
Mathieu and Audrey Thomas in the cellar Château Reverdi lies in Listrac, the smallest of six communes in the Médoc which give their names to their wines. Of special interest is that 15% of the vineyard is planted to Petit Verdot, the rare, thick skinned, low pH variety which contributes racy aromatic complexity, freshness, and longevity, and is admired for the role it plays in some of the greatest wines of Margaux. No doubt Château Reverdi would be better known if the wine were sold on the Place de Bordeaux. But Mathieu Thomas and his sister Audrey, who took charge of the family estate in 2002, have seen how the lives of their friends in Burgundy, Alsace, and the Loire have been enriched by their personal relationships with their customers.
Andreas Widmann Andreas Widmann produces small quantities of pristine wine from eight hectares of land perched on hillsides above the Strada del Vino in Caldaro, Alto Adige. His beautiful house and cellar are in the old part of Cortaccia, very near his family's original residence, where they have lived and farmed (not just wine grapes—Andreas also oversees several hectares of apple and cherry orchards) since 1824.
Peter and Sandra Fischer at Château Revelette (photo: Greg Moore) Although Peter Fischer was born in Germany, he dreamed of becoming a cowboy. So he went to California in the late 1970s where he worked on a ranch, before enrolling at UC Davis and becoming a winemaker. After a short stay at Buena Vista, and a year with the Provençal enologist Emmanuel Gaujal he set out on his own. With the help of his parents, he purchased Château Revelette (and just as his new father-in-law had done thirty years earlier, married the owner’s daughter). The incredible, park-like estate is high on the northern flank of Cézanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire, which rises above the town of Aix-en-Provence, and shelters the vineyards from the warming influence of the Mediterranean. Harvest is a full two weeks later than further south, so the grapes can achieve physiologic maturity before they become overripe, giving the wines a more “northern” aromatic and structural profile than any others in this part of Prove