Isabelle in her vineyards Here is another sensitive, intelligent young woman with school-aged children, like Marjorie Gallet of Domaine Le Roc des Anges, and Hélène Thibon at Mas de Libian. Isabelle Rey-Auriat inherited her fourteen-hectare estate from her mother. She is deeply committed to traditional Cahors, its unique terroir, and to Malbec. She is also a tireless advocate for small-farm wine growers. From 1995 until 2000 she served as President of the Vignerons Indépendants du Lot, and was a founding member and the first President of the Fédération Interdépartementale des Vignerons Indépendants de Midi-Pyrénées. In 2007 she was inducted as a Chevalier dans l’Ordre National du Mérite Agricole.
Jacques Rodet No doubt Château Brûlesécaille, which was classified a Cru Bourgeois in 1868, would be better known today if the wine were sold on the Place de Bordeaux. But Jacques and Martine Rodet, who took charge of the family estate in 1974, prefer to sell their wine directly, in mutually rewarding personal relationships like the one that established Château Brûlesécaille at “Les Trois Marches” in Versailles more than thirty years ago, and the one I hope will continue long into the future. The 26-hectare estate lies on an elevated croupe of gravelly clay limestone overlooking the Dordogne in Tauriac, one of the most privileged locations in the Côtes de Bourg. Of special interest is that many of the vines are more than seventy years old, having escaped the ravages of the terrible freeze of February 1956, which destroyed nearly three fourths of the vines on the Right Bank. Stéphane Beuret, the brilliant enologist who also makes the wine at Château Larroque, supervises the winema
Etiènne Daulny showing the map of his vineyards to Terry Moore If you ask Bertrand Daulny, the winemaker and chef de cave at this impeccable 15-hectare estate in Verdigny, why his elegant Sancerres are always counted among the finest white wines of the middle Loire Valley, he’ll point you to his older brother Etiènne, who grows the grapes. “Il s’agit de la vigne; pas de la cave.” (“It’s all about the vineyards; not about the cellar.”) But if you ask Etiènne, he’ll point you right back to Bertrand. “We grow healthy grapes, but Sauvignon Blanc is a capricious variety, with aromatics that depend on great cellar work.”
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.
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.
Steffi with Hans-Günther SchwarzFounded in 1685, Weingut Weegmüller is the oldest winegrowing estate in the Pfalz, older even than the big “three Bs” (von Bassermann-Jordan, von Buhl, and Bürklin-Wolf). Gaby and Stefanie Weegmüller represent the eleventh generation of winegrowing Weegmüllers in Neustadt. There are sixteen hectares of vines, with parcels in all of the best vineyards in the villages of Haardt, Gimmelding, Neustadt, and Mußbach.Founded in 1685, Weingut Weegmüller is the oldest winegrowing estate in the Pfalz, older even than the big “three Bs” (von Bassermann-Jordan, von Buhl, and Bürklin-Wolf). Gaby and Stefanie Weegmüller represent the eleventh generation of winegrowing Weegmüllers in Neustadt. There are sixteen hectares of vines, with parcels in all of the best vineyards in the villages of Haardt, Gimmelding, Neustadt, and Mußbach.When Steffi took over winemaking responsibility from her father in 1984, she had an enviable advantage: a close, familial friendship with