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
The free wine preservation kit Yessiree bob! Your own FREE WINE PRESERVATION KIT right here! No kidding. After all these years, these empty (and resealable) glass bottles are the best way I've found to preserve wine. Ideally, you want to fill them to the brim before sealing, and I recommend you slap a quick label on, so you know what you've got in the fridge. The glass, resealable 10oz. club soda bottles are particularly helpful (we'll probably see a spike in sales at Wegman’s:), but I've used all manner, including empty Orangina bottles. I also get the empty green bottles with corks at places like Sur la Table, but I'd bet they're somewhere on amazon (what isn’t available there). These will keep your wine fresh (in the fridge – for a week or so), and beat anything else, including expensive “inert gas” kits and Vacu-Vins (which pull out more than just oxygen). Just fill 'em to the brim and seal them up. Best of all, they're free to use over and over. -DM
Jacques Diebolt in his tiny office When I was first invited to pour this creamy Champagne Blanc de Blanc at George Perrier’s Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia, I was admitted into a very privileged club: sommeliers at restaurants like Marc Meneau’s L’Espérance in Père-sous-Vézelay, and Gerard Vié’s Les Trois Marches in Versailles. At the time, there were only six hectares of vines, all on the southeast-facing slope below Cramant, which meant there was very little wine available. Even private customers, who drove to Cramant from Paris or Brussels after tasting the wine in a Michelin-starred restaurant, were often disappointed to find nothing for sale at Diebolt-Vallois. More became available when Diebolt acquired vineyards in Chouilly and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger (“putting the family in debt for 100 years,” he chuckles). But more supply only attracted more sommeliers, including Eric Beaumard, the 1992 Meilleur Sommelier de France, and the 1994 Meilleur Sommelier d’Europe. Every year, he buys
Camille Wallut in her vines Camille Wallut is an architect by training, and a second-generation vigneronne, who returned to take the reins of one of the most extraordinary estates in the southern Côtes-du-Rhône when her father retired in 1997. Her 13 hectares of vines are planted at an average altitude of 500 meters, in the shale and limestone foothills of the Dentelles de Montmirail above the village of Suzette. Some of the Grenache was planted more than eighty years ago. Included is a parcel lying on a Mistral-swept terrace at 620 meters, which is the highest vineyard in all the Côtes-du-Rhône. Because of the altitude, the temperature is much cooler at night than in the valley, so the grapes retain acidity, ripen more evenly, and form more complex aromas. A second benefit is that organic viticulture is much easier than down in the valley, because common valley vine diseases like mildew and grey rot, which often require aggressive chemical treatment, are rarely found at such
Gilles Corsin decanting 30 year-old Saint-Véran.Gilles Corsin splits his time between the courtier business he took over from his father thirty years ago, and the cellar at Domaine Corsin, where he makes the finest wine in Saint-Véran. As a courtier, he tastes the wine of dozens of growers and cooperatives, and is responsible for the purchase of thousands of hectoliters for Georges Dubœuf, Louis Jadot, and Jean-Marie Guffens’ Maison Verget. Tasting so many wines from so many sources gives him a unique frame of reference when he tastes his own.“Gilles doesn’t like my wines,” his friend and colleague Michel Paquet once told me. “Then again, he doesn’t like his own wines. His palate is so fine-tuned that he magnifies every insignificant flaw, which makes it impossible for him to enjoy what he’s drinking.” Jean-Jacques Corsin, who has recently retired, has passed along his calm and deliberate manner to his son Jeremie Corsin – all the better for a young vineyard manager whose decisions
Pascal Sirat and his son When Pascal Sirat took over at Château Panchille in 1981, he was able to save only five of the more than twenty hectares his father had farmed - and then lost - in a succession of unhappy personal and financial disasters. But by 1994, Pascal had increased the size of the domaine to twelve hectares, quit the regional cooperative where three previous generations of Sirats had always taken their grapes, and released his first vintage of estate-bottled Château Panchille. The vineyards slope down nearly to the bank of the Dordogne, a few kilometers southeast of Libourne, where the clay limestone over deep gravel is a continuation of the soils of nearby Saint Emilion and Fronsac: best suited to growing fine, expressive Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Julia and Klaus-Peter Keller at home When Klaus-Peter and his wife Julia took over at Weingut Keller in 2001, they had an enviable advantage: his parents had laid a solid foundation for the future of the estate with their work in soil analysis and clonal selection, and were already producing the best wines in Rheinhessen. But Klaus-Peter has taken Weingut Keller to even higher heights, inspiring a renaissance of viniculture in the Hügelland, where the Benedictines of the Kloster Lorch grew some of the most prestigious wines in the Rheinland, in vineyards that were forgotten after the French Revolution. But Klaus-Peter doesn’t have time for media stardom, and is quick to point out that “great wine would not be possible here, if it weren’t for these great limestone soils. It’s only that someone had to remember the old tradition and just make good wine.”
Jean-Pierre Sève in Pouilly-FuisséJean-Pierre Sève represents the fourth generation of his family to grow Chardonnay on this seven-hectare estate in Solutré-Pouilly. His father, Roger Sève, replanted many of the old parcels in the 1970s, and was the first to sell the wine in bottle. But Jean-Pierre is the first to draw the attention of the Michelin stars. Even so, outside of restaurants in France and Belgium (and “Le Gavroche” in London), almost every bottle of every harvest is bought by the hundreds of private customers who drive to Solutré from Brussels and Paris and Lyon to collect their annual allocation of one of the finest wines in the Mâconnais.
Sergio Germano in Serralunga Since 1856, the Germanos have farmed vineyards in Cerretta, one of Serralunga d’Alba’s most prestigious Crus. Francesco Germano, Sergio’s great grandfather, and his grandfather, Alberto, sold the grapes to friends and neighbors. His father, Ettore, for whom the estate is named, was the first to sell wine in bottles. But Sergio was the first to bottle the entire production of the estate, beginning in 1993. He is the perfect example of a modern, scientifically trained winegrower who is grounded in the traditions of his region. His goal, he says, is to express in his wines the character of each vineyard, of each grape variety, and of each vintage, as well as the “connection between Sergio Germano and Serralunga d’Alba.”
Dominique Roger in Sancerre If you visit Dominique Roger at his Domaine du Carrou in Bué, don’t expect to spend a leisurely time indoors tasting the latest vintage and hearing all about the new Vaslin pneumatic press or the Tronçais barrels from a famous cooper in Burgundy. Dominique Roger isn’t interested in impressing you with his tools. But if you can keep up with him on a brisk climb through his immaculate, steep vineyards, you’ll learn a lot more about wine, and maybe find that you suddenly care a lot more about who grows it and where it comes from than you ever did before.