Marie-Odile and Jean-Claude Janin Jean-Claude Janin worked for sixteen years as technical director and winemaker at the Cave de Viré, responsible for the production of thousands of hectoliters of Viré-Clessé, Mâcon-Villages, and Bourgogne Blanc. In 2006 he quit the cooperative, and working mostly alone over the course of the following year, built a tiny, immaculate winery, where he and his wife Marie-Odile produce brilliant, mineral Chardonnays from grapes they grow on the seven-hectare estate she inherited from her father. Most of the wine is sold en vrac to négociants, but a tiny quantity from the oldest vines is estate-bottled and sold directly, mostly to private customers. Here's Terry Moore leading a small tasting of the domaine’s wines:
Adam Tolmach The key to Ojai is that Adam Tolmach knows every row in every consequential vineyard in Santa Barbara County, and that he purchases his grapes by the acre, rather than by the ton. In some vintages, that can cost more than twice as much. But it gives him direct control of the vineyard work, and by extension, of the quality of the grapes he buys. In the winery, Adam prefers to intervene as little as possible, allowing each vineyard to express its unique character with detail and clarity. All of which has conferred a sort of cult status on The Ojai Vineyard (when it’s not flying under the radar because of the winery’s strictly limited distribution, or because of Adam’s modest, self-effacing personality).
Patrick and Béatrice Brunet The original family estate consisted of two hectares of weathered schist in “Javernières” on the Côte du Py, an undisputed Grand Cru (if the vineyards of Beaujolais had ever been classified). In 1970, Patrick’s father, Robert Brunet, purchased four more hectares of sandy granite, in a climat appropriately named “Champagne,” located in the heart of Fleurie. “Champagne” had been planted in 1930, and along with the tiny parcel of “Javernières” made Robert Brunet the proprietor of two of the finest vineyards in all of Beaujolais. Regrettably, Robert died suddenly when Patrick was only eighteen, so the choice Patrick faced was stark: let his mother rent out the vineyards so he could stay in school, or take over the estate at the age of eighteen. Naturally, he chose the latter, and never looked back.
Jean-François and Sylvain Brondel in the winery Jean-François, Sylvain, and Martine Brondel represent the third and fourth generations of their family to produce fine Beaujolais at Domaine des Crêtes. There are ten hectares of Gamay Noir, grown on a mix of yellow limestone, clay, and a little blue granite; and one hectare of Chardonnay for the Beaujolais Blanc and Crémant de Bourgogne. The “Cuvée des Varennes,” which is always one of the top wines of the Beaujolais appellation, comes from a parcel of seventy year-old organically farmed vines. In 1998, Domaine des Crêtes was a founding member of “Terra Vitis,” now an association of growers throughout France who practice sustainable viticulture. The farming is natural, with traceability checks carried out by an independent organization operating under the "Terra Vitis" guidelines which were established to protect groundwater and preserve the natural condition of the soils. It is a variation of "bio-dynamie" principals, and is en
Pascal Bozzi in his cellar There are five hectares of vines (along with seventy-five hectares of cereals, sunflowers, and pasturage) at this ancient working farm in Sainte Christie, in the heart of the Armagnac region. Pascal Bozzi renovated the original eighteenth-century cellar ten years ago, and with the help of his enologist friend Stéphane Beuret, grows about 2000 cases of the most elegant red wine in all of the Côtes de Gascogne. Stéphane Beuret is best known for his work at the University of Bordeaux, where he won the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux Grand Prix in 1998. Today, his meticulous cellar work at Château Larroque (which includes aging the wine for twelve months in neutral barrels he buys from his clients in Bordeaux), along with Pascal’s impeccable organic farming (his Aubrac beef cattle enrich the compost), results in a unique wine that puts many more expensive Bordeaux to shame.
Ruben Solorzano, Pete and Tom Stolpman Pete Stolpman’s unique estate, founded in 1990 by his father, Tom Stolpman, is located on a rare limestone outcropping in the heart of Ballard Canyon, and has provided grapes to such extraordinary producers as Manfred Krankl at Sine Qua Non, and Adam Tolmach at the Ojai Vineyard. In 2001, Tolmach’s protégé Sashi Moorman joined Stolpman as winemaker, and continues as a working consultant. Today, the entire production is estate-bottled. With ten-year Ballard Canyon veteran winemaker Kyle Knapp in charge of winemaking, and Ruben Solorzano, called “the vine whisperer” by the Santa Barbara Independent overseeing viticulture, Stolpman Vineyards is producing some of the most profoundly beautiful estate-bottled wines in California.
Aurélien Palthey in the cellar at Domaine André Bonhomme When André Bonhomme took over the family vineyards in 1956, he immediately quit selling the grapes in bulk to the local cooperative, exasperating his father, and alienating his neighbors. Setting out to bottle his own wine meant investing in winery equipment, buying bottles and corks, and finding his own customers. But being the first estate-bottler in the Mâconnais had a long-term advantage: he was able to get a good, first-hand look at individual wines from unique vineyard sites, and by experiment to learn which vineyards produced the best grapes. By selling his wine in bottle rather than in bulk he was able to earn enough to quietly assemble a patchwork of the best vineyards in the region. Aurélien Palthey, André Bonhomme’s grandson, is only in his early thirties, yet as the current director of the domaine, he holds the reins of a cultural monument–one of the greatest estates in Burgundy.
Roberto and Marco FerrarisThe Ferraris family estate was established in 1923, when Stefano Ferraris planted vines in a steep hillside vineyard in Agliano Terme. Today, the entire twelve-hectare estate produces just five thousand cases annually (almost 25% of which are sold by Moore Brothers). Like Gianni Doglia in nearby Castagnole delle Lanze, Roberto’s commitment to rigorous farming, low yields, and a sensitive approach in the cellar, has cemented his family’s reputation as one of the finest producers in Asti. Roberto’s wines are regularly awarded the prestigious “Tre Bicchieri” from Italy’s premier food and wine publication, Gambero Rosso.
Elio and Gianluca Grasso If there is any Barolo producer who perfectly embodies the idea of stewardship of his heritage, it is Elio Grasso. He was working in a bank in Torino in 1978 when his grandfather died, leaving him a small cascina and a few giornate of vines on the Gavarini and Ginestra hills of Monforte. Elio promptly quit the bank to become a wine grower. Today he still works every day in the vineyard, preferring to leave the cellar and business to his son Gianluca, The estate is one of the top producers of Barolo.