The Antinori family has been making wine for over six hundred years. Throughout its long history, spanning 26 generations, the family has always personally managed the business making innovative, sometimes courageous choices, always with unwavering respect for tradition and the land. Today, Marchese Piero Antinori directs the long-lived family vision, and his three daughters participate in various activities throughout the firm. One of Italy's most dynamic and visionary producers of fine wines, with estates concentrated in the finest and highly progressive viticultural areas of Tuscany and Umbria, Antinori has also played an important role in preserving Italy's enological traditions.
At 17, before embarking on her degree in enology and viticulture at Milan University, Alessia Antinori spent a few months in London working at Fortnum and Mason's wine department; doing a beginners Master of Wine course and a brief stage at Christies Auction House. "It was really my decision to study enology and viticulture," says Alessia. Of course I was influenced by my father. As a child he made a point of taking me to visit our vineyards and wineries in Tuscany. When I finished school and said I was thinking of studying art, he said fine, but what about wine?"
Antica Napa Valley
Antica Napa Valley is a true blend of Italy and California, not only in name, but in style, too. The Antinori family's long, storied winemaking history has long been synonymous with the regions of Tuscany and Umbria, but their passion for innovation has led them in a quest to promote new terroirs rich with winegrowing potential… like Napa Valley. Since Marchese Piero Antinori's first visit in 1966, he dreamt of producing an Antinori Napa Valley wine. It took over 40 years, but Antica Napa Valley is the realization of his longstanding dream. This is a breathtaking estate set high in the eastern mountains of the Napa Valley. Located in the remote Atlas Peak District, the 550-acre estate produces only small lots of wines, a testament to the discipline and care of the Antinori Family. Its hilly terrain, rocky soils, high elevations and beautiful landscape create above all an estate ideal for winegrowing. The Antinori's believe that their estate's intrinsic "DNA" will produce wines of great personality and style. Glenn Salva is the general manager of Antinori Napa Valley.
Champagne Barons de Rothschild
The Barons de Rothschild from Château Lafite, Château Mouton and Château Clarke have joined forces to form the latest Champagne house. In 2005 the three branches of the Rothschild family along with several of the most passionate families of champagne united to establish this new house of excellence within Champagne, based in Reims itself. Long term contracts with selected vignerons in the finest Grand and Premier Cru areas, particularly in the Côte des Blancs were agreed upon and this year we see the culmination of viticultural excellence and deft vinification as the very first release of what will most definitely be among the most sought after Champagne in production arrives on our shores. Three wines of the utmost quality made in the traditional manner make up the entirety of the Rothschild's Champagne production all of which have Chardonnay as the major contributing varietal. The house style is that of elegance, lightness and refinement.
Cantine Marchesi Fumanelli
Cantine Marchesi Fumanelli Winery, which has been producing excellent wines for 600 years in the Veneto region of Italy. Located in the heart of the most classic part of Valpolicella, the Fumanelli Family has cultivated their vineyards since the 15th century, producing fine wines while maintaining a unique relationship with the terroir, local traditions and culture. The Fumanelli Winery produced wine from 1600 up to 1927. After the winery buildings were restored in 1998-99 the production restarted with Valpolicella Classico Superiore Squarano 1999. Squarano is an ancient estate situated on a hill which overlooks a valley surrounded by vineyards. The villa was constructed by Marchesi Fumanelli's family in the seventeenth century and all grapes used to create their wines are grown on their 40 hectare of vineyards.
Castello di Ama
Castello di Ama is an old, fortified village in the heart of the Chianti Classico region. The meticulously cultivated vineyards are privy to optimal exposures and consist of fertile soils. Ama is a modern estate comprising 200 acres of vineyards. These vineyards are divided into five important parcels: San Lorenzo, Bellavista, La Casuccia, Bertinga and Montebuoni. Since 1988 it has been run by the second generation, Lorenza Sebasti Pallanti, solidly supported by wine production specialist and extraordinary wine maker and husband Marco Pallanti. The wines, produced exclusively with grapes from the property, are distinguished by their own style of Chianti Classico, uniting austerity, elegance and richness. Chosen as Italy's 'Winery of the Year' in 2005 by the influential Italian wine guide Gambero Rosso..
Ceretto is one of Piedmont's major estates, though perhaps the term estate isn't quite adequate. It was founded in the 1930s by Riccardo Ceretto, who passed the torch to his sons Bruno and Marcello in the 1960s. In the Langhe region, every hill has its own history and its own image. Ceretto has been able to select the best crus and create a group of small wineries that produce a considerable number of bottles without sacrificing quality. Direct, in-house wine-making that combines tradition and innovation is the cornerstone of the Ceretto's corporate philosophy.
Federico, Bruno's son and the youngest in the family chose to take a University Diploma in Business Administration. While still studying he began to deal with the management of the company and later joined on the sales management side of the business, focusing in particular on the export markets.
Cliff Lede Vineyards
The winery was established in 2002, when Canadian businessman Cliff Lede purchased 60 acres of vineyards in the famed Stags Leap District. In the following years, Lede formed an unrivalled team to make the most of this remarkable property. Completed in time for crush 2005, the new state-of-the-art gravity-flow winery boasts a berry-by-berry sorting system and conical tanks commissioned using a design borrowed from Château Latour. One tank per vineyard block ensures each lot evolves at its own pace and acres of caves with single-layer barrel storage ensure access to each barrel at all times. No corner has been cut. The winery produces Sauvignon Blanc, Claret and Cabernet Sauvignon. The flagship, Poetry Cabernet Sauvignon, is crafted from the steep hillside portion of the estate. The land, the talent, the tools and the passion: Cliff Lede Vineyards is a notable addition to the Stags Leap District.
David Arthur Vineyards
Family owned and operated, David Arthur Vineyards is focused on producing wines of distinction in the Napa Valley. Brothers David and Bob Long began planting their Pritchard Hill Estate property (high above the famous Rutherford Bench) in 1978 and made their Cabernet Sauvignon debut eighteen years later with the spectacular 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon and Elevation 1147. Production of the flagship reds remains small. They produce a Super Tuscan blend called Meritaggio as well as Sangiovese, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The David Arthur wines are produced with a dedication to crafting dynamic, complex vintages. With every bottling comes a commitment to producing distinctive wines with a focus on vineyard site-expression and structure, a benchmark of David Arthur Vineyards' winemaking philosophy.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
Considered the pinnacle of Burgundy, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti produces some of the world's most revered wines from its tiny vineyards in Vosne-Romanée. Two of the Domaine's seven grand cru vineyards — La Romanée-Conti and La Tâche — are monopoles and unarguably the greatest vineyards in Burgundy. Richebourg, Romanée-St.-Vivant, Grands-Echézeaux, Echézeaux and Montrachet (in Chassagne) are also grand cru vineyards, yielding sublime wines that are among the most highly-sought, seductive and rarest in the world.
Domaine du Pegau
The name Pegau (an old Provencal word for a wine jug found in the excavations of the 14th century Popes Palace in Avignon) was created in 1987, when Laurence Feraud after her wine studies went home to help her father Paul Feraud at the domaine. Paul always talks about Laurence as "le chef", but he is an experienced winemaker himself. The property has belonged to the family for several generations. From 1986 Paul Feraud started bottling of wine and sold it under the mark Domaine Feraud. Today father and daughter have made Pegau to one of the best wines in Chateauneuf du Pape. They have 17 ha with red varieties and 1 ha with white grapes. The 11 parcels are spread around the appellation and gives different wines, which after the blending result in a very distinct wine, a true classic Chateauneuf du Pape. In the fields organic methods are used.
Founded in 1923 round a Medici villa and a country convent of the Renaissance era, the Fuligni estate is co-owned by Robert Guerrini Fuligni and his delightful aunt Maria Flora Fuligni. Together with his aunt, Roberto makes the wines with oenologist Paola Vagaggini, while agronomist Federico Ricci looks after the vineyards. The estate covers 100 hectares, of which 25 are under vine, almost all planted with Sangiovese, with a small amount of Merlot for the IGT blend. What is important is the combined height of the vineyards (350-440m), the density of planting, age of the vines (12-30 plus) and the 'galestro' soils on which they are planted. Fuligni's wines have reached international recognition for their purity of expression, strong backbone of acidity and polished tannins. These are simply the finest wines of Brunello, epitomizing all that is great from the region.
Angelo Gaja, the reigning prince of Piedmont, almost single-handedly put Barbaresco on the fine wine map. Since taking over the family winery in the late 1960s, Gaja has helped to transform the once sleepy Barbaresco into a center of adventurous Italian winemaking and turned Nebbiolo into a popular grape. He also pioneered the development of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay as stand-alone varietals, a radical move in the region. Never content to rest on his laurels, he acquired an estate in Barolo in 1996, invested in Bolgheri in Tuscany and has added a Brunello to his stable. If there is a pantheon of modern winemakers, Angelo Gaja would surely be a prestige member. His supremely talented daughter, Gaia, has now taken over the day-to-day operations of the winery and the dynasty is in very good hands.
Gaia Gaja is the fifth generation of her family to work at the Gaja Winery. After graduating from business school at the University of Pavia in 2004, Gaia spent a year in San Francisco, working for retailer the Wine Club and wholesaler Southern Wine & Spirits. Now she's back in Barbaresco working at her father's side, though she offsets its small-town vicissitudes by traveling five months a year to represent her family's wines.
Founded by Pierre Gosset in 1584, it is oldest and one of the smallest producers of luxury champagne, but what it lacks in volume it amply makes up for in quality and prestige. Gosset only uses juice from the first pressing of grapes, and unlike most other producers, initial fermentation is still carried out in small oak barrels. Riddling and disgorgement are performed by hand. Significantly, and in contrast to virtually all other houses, Gosset champagnes do not undergo malolactic fermentation, resulting in a heightened acidity, slower maturing wines and that inimitable Gosset style – powerful and full-bodied, of unrivalled richness and staying power – in other words, some of the world's most legendary champagne.
Hugel et Fils
Because of its privileged geographical situation, Alsace is the driest wine region in France. Its micro-climate is caused by the distance which separates it from maritime influences, and by the protection of the Vosges Mountains. This climate enables the grapes to ripen slowly to full maturity, giving the wine great finesse of aroma and unequalled intensity. Hugel is a family business, today run by 3 members of the Hugel family (12th generations) and 100% family-owned. They are the owners of a 65-acre estate exclusively in Riquewihr, in prime sites, almost half of which are in the Grand Cru zone. The estate is planted only with noble grape varieties (40% Gewurztraminer, 40% Riesling, 15% Pinot Gris, and 5% Pinot Noir) and some of the vines are up to 60 years old. The Hugel family pioneered the resurrection of Alsace late-harvest wines, Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles. No fertilization is ever used; low yields (around two-thirds of Alsace average); extensive use of crop-thinning to ensure high quality. Harvest is only done by hand and always will be.
Paul Jaboulet Aîné
Paul Jaboulet Aîné is one of the most venerable négociant firms in France's Rhône Valley. Founded in 1834 by Antoine Jaboulet (1807-1864) in Tain l'Hermitage, the estate was to really take off under the leadership of his sons, Paul and Henry. Their descendants then followed one another in presiding over the destiny of these unique and demanding vineyards. In 2006 the Jaboulet family officially sold the company to Jean-Jacques Frey, owner of Château La Lagune in Bordeaux's Haut-Médoc appellation and part-owner of Champagne house Billecart-Salmon. Caroline, the eldest daughter of the family, who has a degree in oenology from Bordeaux, is working with her teams in a single-minded quest for perfection. They are convinced that, with scrupulous care for vines grown in exceptional terroirs and cutting-edge winemaking, the greatest vintages are yet to come. The jewel in the Maison Jaboulet collection, the legendary 'La Chapelle' Hermitage, a great red wine made purely from Syrah, which owes its name to the famous little Sainte Christophe chapel, which overlooks the Hermitage vineyards.
L'Aventure Winery is Stephan Asseo's "Grand Cru" of Paso Robles. After 17 years making wine in Bordeaux at his family's three châteaux, Stephan became determined to work with grapes from a warmer climate, where maturity could be achieved more regularly than in Bordeaux. He also longed for the freedom to create blends that were outside the acceptable parameters of AOC law.It was a giant change to undertake, but in 1997 Stephan and his family undertook their "Aventure", settling in Paso Robles' Westside hill country, where Stephan could pursue his dream. Upon visiting the winery site in the rolling foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains in California's Central Coast region, Stephan immediately fell in love with the terroir. The combination of calcareous soils and a classic Mediterranean climate, tempered by the maritime influence of the Templeton Gap, provided the ideal conditions for him to realize his vision of creating top quality, blended red wines.
For three generations the Maculan family has selected and vinified the best grapes in Breganze, an enchanting village at the foot of the Alps, in Italy's Veneto region. The surrounding mountains protect the area from cold winds, creating a perfect microclimate for the cultivation of vineyards. But it is Maculan's drive and commitment, rather than any accident of nature, which set these wines apart. The Maculan family fuses tradition and innovation, resulting in a selection of fresh and fruity whites, well-structured reds and delicious dessert wines. Maculan has received numerous accolades from the world's most esteemed wine critics and is always at the forefront of any discussion of dessert wines. Angela Maculan has shown her passion for wine since she was a child. When she was old enough to use scissors, she began picking grapes for pocket money and as she grew, she continued to help in all aspects of the winery. When Angela was 19, she accompanied Fausto, her father, for the first time on a business tour. Since then, her job became representing the family winery around the world on a global stage. Let Angela be your guide as she leads you through her family's famed portfolio of wines.
Founded in 1897 by Orazio Nonino in the Friuli region of Italy, Nonino has changed the way the world views grappa. Today, current proprietor Benito Nonino and his wife Giannola, together with their three daughters Cristina, Antonella and Elisabetta, continue to lead Italian distillers through their devotion to research, quality and innovation. In 1973, the Noninos crafted the first ever single-vineyard, single-grape grappa with their Grappa Nonino Cru Monovitigno Picolit. Picolit was a huge success, triggering many of the industry's current trends. Then, in 1984, Benito and Gianolla solidified their status as industry leaders by introducing the world's first single-vineyard, single-grape distillate produced using whole grape clusters. This product, known as ÙE (pronounced "Oo-ay"), further revolutionized the industry and introduced distillates with uniquely intense aroma and flavour components. Nonino's extensive product line revolves around their award winning grappas and revolutionary ÙE's. Presented in elegant bottles – most of which are hand blown – it is no wonder that Nonino grappas and ÙE's are without equals in the world today.
The house of Pascal Jolivet is one of the youngest and most dynamic in the Loire Valley. Founded in 1987, this specialist in the wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé has very quickly gained a leading position with the Michelin-starred restaurants of France. Pascal owns an estate of more than 70 acres evenly divided between the two appellations. He believes strongly in letting nature make the wines as much as possible, and seeks to tame the more aggressive qualities of the Sauvignon Blanc variety. His wines show the benefits of stainless steel vatting with naturally occurring yeasts. They are fermented cool rather than cold and are left on their lees for 4 to 6 months, gaining subtle but complex aromas as a result. The Pascal Jolivet style aims for finesse and elegance with, above all, good balance. The maturity in bottle is particularly slow, especially for the Grandes Cuvées as they show their true quality after a minimum of three to five years.
Planeta Winery is one of the premier wine estates of Sicily, and a veritable fine wine empire. They operates five wineries, Noto, Vittoria, Sambuca, Menfi and Etna, which stretch across Sicily from east to west in some of the hottest and driest climates. Each winery provides unique conditions, from the soil to the vines, altitude to the temperature, creating grapes with distinct characteristics. Planeta was founded in the 1990's by cousins Alessio, and Santi Planeta and their uncle Diego Planeta, who was already famous in Sicily for his trail-blazing role at the well-respected Settesoli wine cooperative, decades before Planeta as we know it burst onto the wine scene. Diego´s daughter Francesca later joined the company and is know a key integral figure. While relatively new as a commercial winery, the family´s beloved Ulmo estate dates back centuries. Today it is a treat to visit with its vast vineyards, ancient olive groves and ruins of an Arab castle. Planeta in fact have become almost as famous for their olive oils (made with the Nocellara del Belice and Biancolilla olives) as for their wines.
Paola Gloder has one of Montalcino's most elevated estates, with vineyards averaging 1476 feet above sea level, southwest of the famed medieval citadel. Both the unique location and altitude privilege the wines of Poggio Antico. The lower hillside terroir south of Montalcino is conducive to powerful and opulent Brunellos. This, combined with the estate's vineyard elevations - which enjoy favourable overnight drops in temperature - bring increased finesse and intense bouquet. The young and tireless owner has been firmly at the helm of Poggio Antico almost since its inception, when her father purchased 50 clayey, calcareous acres of Brunello di Montalcino vineyards, in 1984. Paola's husband, Alberto Montefiori, joined her in this task in 1998. In their forceful hands, the estate has seen a phenomenal growth, going from 50 to the present 80 acres under vine, developing two parallel Brunello worlds – the more traditional, larger-barrel Brunello, aged longer in Slavonian oak and the modern, finesse-driven Altero, aged in tonneaux of French oak; securing a stellar position in the global market and extending and upgrading the facility to ultrahigh-tech standards
Remoissenet Père et Fils
Remoissenet Pere et Fils is one of Beaune's wealthiest domains, with a 14th century property within the walls of the town and 2.5ha which includes Beaune Premier Cru, Maconnais, Bressandes and Beaune Greves. It also produces an entire range as négociant. From its own holdings and around the same amount of bought-in grapes, Remoissenet produces about 200,000 bottles a year. The old cellars are full of treasures going back to well before World War II. The company was run for 30 years by Roland Remoissenet, a figure described by Robert Parker as 'one of the most dashing' in Burgundy. He recently retired and put the firm up for sale. The firm, its vineyards and ancient Beaune cellars were bought by New York financier Edward Millstein (an avid Burgundy collector), his friend Todd Halpern, and Maison Louis Jadot.
Silver Oak Cellars
Silver Oak Cellars was started in 1972 with a simple driving philosophy - to focus production on only one varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon. What's more, they resolved to create a wine with a style all its own: not another hard, tannic red wine requiring years of aging to enjoy, but a wine of fully developed flavors and a velvety soft texture on the day it is released for sale. Silver Oak Cellars produces Cabernet Sauvignon from two appellations. Their Napa Valley derives its fruit from both owned and contracted vineyards, and is produced entirely at their Oakville winery. Beginning in 1994, small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot have been included in their Napa blend to add complexity and softness. Silver Oak also produces stellar Cabernet from their Alexander Valley vineyards. A critical reason for the success of this wine, and every wine they make, has always been that they create the final blend before aging it in American oak barrels and then bottles. Over the course of four-and-a-half years, the wine's flavors, aromas, and textures have an opportunity to meld with one another and the wood's delicate qualities to create the kind of graceful cohesion found only in the world's most elegant wines. Ray Duncan and his four sons founded Twomey Cellars in 1999 with the same philosophy that Ray and Justin Meyer established for Silver Oak: create food-friendly wine that is deliciously drinkable upon release. With Twomey, however, they apply that philosophy to varietals other than Cabernet Sauvignon, the flagship of Silver Oak. They combine winemaking experience with a spirit of innovation, enabling them to work with different varietals, winemaking techniques and some of the best vineyard sites in California.
Tenuta di Biserno
Marchese Lodovico Antinori discovered the property of Tenuta di Biserno near Bibbona, in the Alta Maremma area of Tuscany, in 1994, while looking for additional land to expand his Tenuta dell'Ornellaia vineyard. Given its proximity to Bolgheri, it is not surprising he was at first struck by the similarity in terroir. What he found in Bibbona, however, had so much potential, he was inspired to develop a quite different plan. With more hills and stones than nearby Bolgheri, this land appeared to be ideally suited to produce a new and different wine. In 2001 Lodovico and his brother, Piero, established Tenuta di Biserno as an elite wine estate. Mount Nelson is located near Cloudy Bay in Marlborough and is planted with over 13 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc that will be continuously extended over the next few years. Located at the northern end of New Zealand's South Island, Marlborough is considered one of the finest areas in the world for Sauvignon Blanc, having a cool maritime climate where average daytime temperatures rarely exceed 24°C, even in the hottest months, and yet the area still enjoys more sunlight hours than any other region in New Zealand. Moreover, in this area of quite exceptional vineyards, this is a property that enjoys what is widely considered to be one of the very best terroirs.
Bodega Vega Sicilia
In 1848 Toribio Lecanda helped a Marquis to escape from penury, namely the Marqués de Valbuena, a Castilian noble who had fallen on hard times, by buying a two-thousand-hectare estate from him. Here, sixty-seven years later, we would see the birth of the first estate of the Spanish wine myth Vega Sicilia, indisputably one of the great estates of Spain. Vines were first planted in 1864 near the town of Valbuena in the Duero valley by Don Eloy Lecanda Chaves, who arrived from Bordeaux with Bordelais grape varieties and wine making techniques, thereby laying the foundations for what was to become one of the best wines of Spain. There are doubts as to whether the first Vega Sicilia was 1917 or 1915, apart from the fact that the estate sold bottled wine before those dates. Since 1982 the property has belonged to the Alvárez Diez family, who has continued the traditions of the founder, with their wine maker, Javier Ausás. Although there is great respect for tradition at Vega Sicilia, there is also innovation, most notably, the purchase of the nearby Alion estate so that Vega Sicilia could also produce a high quality wine for drinking young, without detracting from the fruit supply for Unico and Pintia, a 96 hectare estate located further west along the Duero River inside the warmer DO of Toro.
Château la Mondotte
La Mondotte was purchased by the Count von Neipperg family at the same time as two other vineyards, Château Canon-La-Gaffelière and Clos de l'Oratoire. For quite some time, La Mondotte lived in the shadow of these estates. The tiny vineyard at La Mondotte has recently reached its full potential and the tremendous success of the 1996 vintage has shown that Stephan von Neipperg has more than met the challenge. The 4.5 hectare La Mondotte vineyard is located east of the Saint-Emilion limestone plateau. "Our basic approach is the same at all our estates: to use the most natural methods as possible, to observe closely what is going on in the vineyard, to have a perfect understanding of the soil. We are instinctively reticent about accepting pat answers. We make sure to produce wine in keeping with the specific parameters of each vintage. We also feel that the winemaker must have a great deal of flexibility to do his job right", explains Stephan von Neipperg. All vineyard and winemaking operations are in keeping with environmental concerns.
In most appraisals of the wine-growing world, the five First Growth Châteaux of the famous 1855 Bordeaux Classification are placed among the very best in the world. Of those, the one that is accorded the top prize in terms of consistency of its red wines is Château Latour. The estate has 65 hectares of vineyard, and produces up to 40,000 cases of wine each year. Its vines are 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and around 2 or 3% of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The Château makes three principal wines, all red; in addition to its world famous "Grand Vin de Château Latour", it has produced "Les Forts de Latour" since 1966, and since 1990 a third simply labelled "Pauillac". The Grand Vin is generally 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Latour has some of the greatest old vines in Bordeaux and a new winemaking team is now working with state-of-the-art new equipment under inspired leadership. The dynamic young Director of the Château, Frédéric Engerer, is determined to make the greatest wine possible at Latour and has the confidence of owner, François Pinault, to do all that it takes to achieve this aim. Production levels have been slashed in recent vintages with only the best parcels of vines now producing grapes for the Grand Vin.
Chateau Margaux was founded in the 1400's. Once the residence of Edward III, King of England, it was one of the most stately fortified chateaux in Guyenne. Over the centuries, the property changed ownership several times. In 1804, the Marquis of La Colonilla acquired the property, razed the old Gothic manor-house and built in its place the chateau which still stands today. In 1977 the property was purchased by Laura and Andre Mentzelopoulos. Emile Peynaud was retained as a consultant to oversee the vinification of the wine. Apprehensive observers expected it would take several vintages before all the improvements would show up in the wine. It took just one vintage, 1978, for the world to see just how great Chateau Margaux could be. Unfortunately, Andre Mentzelopoulos died before he could see the fruits of his labor. His wife Laura and daughter Corinne run the show now with the expertise of the winemaking team of director Paul Pontallier, cellar master Jean Grangerou and consulting oenologist Emile Peynaud. Chateau Margaux makes wine that is opulent and rich; a multidimensional bouquet with a fragrance of ripe black currants, spicy vanilla oakiness and violets.
Château Mouton Rothschild
Located in the village of Pauillac in the Médoc, 50 km north-west of the city of Bordeaux, Mouton Rothschild is one of the First Great Growths of Bordeaux Grand Crus, alongside Château Latour, Château Haut Brion, Château Margaux and Château Lafite-Rothschild. The Bordeaux Classification of 1855 came about when wine brokers were tasked by Emperor Napoleon to create a classification of the wines of Bordeaux. The rating was based (mostly) on the price that the wines were bringing in the market and it divided these top wineries into five classifications. These classifications are known as 'Growths'. Historically, however, Château Mouton Rothschild was excluded from First Great Growth status. This, it was thought to be so because the vineyard had recently been purchased by an Englishman and was no longer in French ownership. In 1973, after decades of intense lobbying by its powerful and influential owner, Mouton Rothschild was elevated to "first growth" status - this was one of the two changes in the original 1855 classification (in 1856 Château Cantemerle was added to the Grand Cru list). This prompted a change of the Château Mouton motto: previously, the motto of the wine was Premier ne puis, second ne daigne, Mouton suis. ("First, I cannot be. Second, I do not condescend to be. Mouton, I am."). Today the motto is Premier je suis, Second je fus, Mouton ne change. ("First, I am. Second, I used to be. Mouton, I do not change.") Baron Philippe de Rothschild, father of the current owner, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, came up with the idea of having each year's label designed by a famous artist of the day. Since 1946, many of the world's great painters and sculptors have created works (displayed at the chateau) that are also reproduced on the labels of the wine. Mouton Rothschild's 203 acres of vineyards produce Cabernet Sauvignon (77%), Merlot (11%), Cabernet Franc (10%) and Petit Verdot (2%) that is used in the blend. The wine is fermented in oak vats (one of the few châteaux in the Médoc that is loyal to this traditional method) and then matured in new oak casks.
Vieux Château Certan
François Thienpont's family has been established in the Bordeaux region since 1929, mainly in the Libournais. Vieux Château Certan, Château Puygueraud and Le Pin are some of the famous properties belonging to the Thienpont family. Vieux Château Certan is situated in the heart of the Pomerol, the oldest cru of the appellation. It was founded in the 16th Century and known under its present name since 1745. The chateau was acquired by Georges Thienpont in 1924. Since this time it has continued to affirm itself as one of the rarest and most prestigious crus in the world. A symbol of perfection; the exquisite finesse of its wines, the elegance of the chartreuse chateau surrounded by age-old trees, the order and quality of the vineyard, Vieux Château Certan inspires fascination on the part of great international connoisseurs and artists. The sumptuous brilliance of its color, the exceptional wealth of aromas and the depth and subtlety of its taste give the wine a style unique to the Pomerol appellation. Chateau Le Pin is a tiny vineyard located in the middle of the Pomerol plateau. There has never been an official classification of Pomerol. Even so, Chateau Le Pin commands prices that put it at levels equal to the best wines of Bordeaux. Le Pin was the first of the "garage wines" or micro château that have become cult collector wines. These wines defy the traditional classifications. This micro vineyard is less than 5 acres in size with a clay soil. The vines average 32 years of age. Chateau Le Pin is planted with 92% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. Chateau Le Pin was first produced in 1979. This was the year that the Thienpont family (wine merchants from Belgium) purchased the property from Madame Laubie, whose family had acquired it in 1924. This is a wine that is made more in the style of California and Australia rather than traditional Bordeaux. It is very 'fruit-forward' and has great richness. It is often described with words like exotic and hedonistic. The wines from Chateau Le Pin are medium in body with delicate tannins and a fruity finish. They tend to be accessible when young and peak at about 15 years after the vintage. These wines are very showy and tend to dominate food pairings rather than complimenting them.
Jean-François de Pontet, royal governor of the Médoc, combined several vineyard plots in Pauillac in the early 18th century. Years later, his descendants added neighboring vines in a place named Canet. This was the beginning of one of the largest estates in the Médoc. A century later, Pontet-Canet was included in the famous 1855 classification, thereby confirming its membership among the elite of the Médoc. This privileged position did not go unnoticed by one of the most important Bordeaux shippers of the time, Hermann Cruse, who bought the estate in 1865. The Cruse family owned Pontet-Canet for 110 years, until another shipper (from Cognac this time), Guy Tesseron, acquired it in 1975. Currently owned by Guy Tesseron's sons, Alfred and Gérard, this means that Pontet-Canet has belonged to only three families in over two centuries. Thirty years after their arrival in Pauillac, the Tesserons can be proud of having gradually restructured the entire vineyard as well as renovating the cellars and service buildings. Pontet-Canet's 80 hectares of vineyards are located in the northern end of the Pauillac commune, across the road from first growth Château Mouton Rothschild. The soil composition is mainly gravel over a subsoil of clay and limestone. The plantings are divided up as 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, and the remainder divided between Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Vines average 35 years of age.
Maison Louis Jadot
Founded in 1859 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot, Maison Louis Jadot has always been situated in the heart of the vineyards, in the centre of Beaune. Maison Louis Jadot controls a 105 hectare "domaine" in Burgundy with more than 70 hectares in the Côte d'Or, exclusively in Premier and Grand Cru. It is from its land that Burgundy gains its richness and diversity. The originality and characters of the wines stem directly from the grapes. At Maison Louis Jadot the choice of the grapes is the number one priority; the philosophy is to respect the origin of the grapes. Therefore the villages and growths of Burgundy are individually expressed in all the wines that carry the name. Recently installed in an old building from the 19th century, the offices are situated above very old cellars from the 14th century connected with the "Couvent des Jacobins" cellars. This "Couvent" is the ideal venue for receiving visitors at Maison Louis Jadot. Managed by three generations of the Jadot family and then by Mr. André Gagey for more than 30 years, Maison Louis Jadot is now directed by his son Mr. Pierre-Henry Gagey.
Founded in 1825, Bourgognes Faiveley is one of the largest family-owned domaines in Burgundy. Over the course of seven generations, the Faiveley family has carefully expanded their vineyard ownership to a total of 120 hectares spread over 15 villages and extending from the Côte de Nuits to the Côte Chalonnaise. They also possess seven monopoles (single appellations in their entirety) - the greatest number of any single domaine. Depending upon the vintage, approximately 80% of the domaine's wines are produced from their own estate vineyards, and the balance is from select vineyards under long-term contracts with the family. In December 2004, after directing the family Domaine for 30 years, François Faiveley handed over the reins to his son, Erwan. Today, Erwan is one of the youngest directors of a Burgundy Domaine on record. To create great Burgundies, Erwan Faiveley associates the principles of modern oenology with really traditional maturation, in French oak barrels, in 19th century vaulted cellars. The wines from Domaine Faiveley, agreeable and flattering in their youth, possess excellent ageing potential.
Isole e Olena
Proprietor Paolo De Marchi crafts some of the most engaging wines in all of Tuscany, and Italy for that matter. Paolo De Marchi is known internationally for the incredible 30-year facelift he engineered at Isole e Olena in Tuscany which was acquired by the De Marchi family in 1950. Making wines like Cepparello in Chianti, he has become one of Italy's most respected artisan winemakers and a force for positive changes in the Tuscan wine world. On the heels of that effort, he's returned to his birthplace of Piedmont to take part in another reclamation project, the "Proprietà Sperino" vineyards in the Lessona DOC region, located in the foothills of the Alps. The De Marchi family inherited "Proprietà Sperino" in the middle of the 19th century and produced wine there until 1970. Even with its precious sand soil, vineyards in Lessona had been neglected, and wines declined in quality following World War II. In 2000 Paolo, along with his son Luca, began reclaiming 25 acres of hillside vineyards by replanting Nebbiolo and the other indigenous varieties, Vespolina and Croatina. As with Isole, he focused on improving viticulture and winemaking, including hand picking grapes, a second sort in the cellar, and fermentation with natural yeasts.
As far as the great wines of Bordeaux go Château Montrose is somewhat of a youngster having been founded in 1815. However this beautiful vineyard has produced one of Bordeaux's most consistent and respected wines for over 150 years. It is considered to be one of the top St Estèphe's and is a deuxième cru (super second). Château Montrose is located in the east of St Estèphe (the northernmost of the great Médoc communes), just north of the hamlet of Marbuzet, on a gravel knoll only 800 meters from the Gironde estuary. The closeness of the estuary ensures a micro climate that protects against frost, and the vines, which lie on deep clay-gravel soils, roll down the slope towards the river and benefit from a south-easterly aspect. The soil is a mix of gravel, black sand with a subsoil of clay and marl. Montrose's wine is typically a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot 25% and 10% Cabernet Franc and is matured in oak barriques (30% new) for 18 months. The wines age incredibly well and are some of the longest lived in the Médoc. They are traditionally deeply colored, austere and powerful when young, but when mature are quintessential St Estèphe clarets. They are highly prized for their fruit and classic, well structured style.
Romano Dal Forno
Romano Dal Forno is one of Amarone's most iconic and one the world's most highly coveted and sought-after wineries in the Valpolicella region of the Veneto. Dal Forno is a small 25 hectare estate located east of Verona, in the Val d'Illasi's upper valley. The Dal Forno family has owned the estate for four generations, and has been producing Amarone wine for three of these generations. Luigi, the father of the current owner Romano, was able to successfully re-unite the historic property which had been divided when split among the various family members. Romano Dal Forno took over the farm in 1983 and began to modernize and build the wine business. He risked everything, making a huge investment in 1990 when he began work on the new state-of-the-art winery and house that is today the center of the estate's activities. Romano has since produced Amarone and Valpolicella vintages every year, with just a few exceptions. With each year he refined his grape growing and wine making skills and with each change came improvements to the wine. He believes in respecting traditions and creating wines that reflect the character of his beloved valley and home. His wonderful wines show that he is finding success in this mission.
Peter Michael Winery
You may not expect a British knight, even one who received his accolade for services to that country's technology business, to wind up on the cutting edge of the California wine industry, but then Sir Peter Michael is not your run-of-the-mill successful entrepreneur.
In 1982 Sir Peter Michael established the Peter Michael winery on a square mile of rocky volcanic ridges that form the western face of Mount St. Helena in Sonoma County. From the beginning, the wine growing philosophy was modeled on the French tradition infused with a few modern influences: One, the vineyard terroir would be the single most important feature. Two, the wines would be elegant rather than overstated. Three, there would be a hundred-year commitment to the development of a great estate. Given this commitment to the product, only a limited quantity will ever be made.
The Peter Michael Winery specializes in only single-vineyard designated wines produced from premium hillside vineyards, predominantly in Knights Valley, just within the Sonoma County Line and a stone throw from Napa. The winery, whilst embracing modern winemaking techniques, adheres fervently to the belief that each wine should reflect the unique characteristics of its "terroir" or site.
Domaine de Montille
Domaine de Montille is a first class Côte de Beaune domaine and one which is producing some of the purest expressions of Pinot Noir to be found in Burgundy today. Hubert de Montille inherited the domaine in 1951. Initially only 2.5 hectares in Volnay, but over the years he acquired further parcels in Volnay, as well as 4 hectares in Pommard.
Today the domaine is still run by Hubert, aided by his son Etienne and his daughter Alix.
It is no exaggeration to say that Silvio Jermann has made Italian wine history. This is particularly true of his whites, spearheaded by such cult items as Vintage Tunina and Dreams.
Heir to a traditional Friulian winery dating back to 1881, Silvio graduated from two renowned wine academies, Conegliano and Istituto di San Michele. His first professional decision was taking an in-depth sabbatical overseas: this voluntary exile to Canada broadened his scope, allowing him a freedom of research that would have been unthinkable at home. Once back at the family winery, Silvio overcame his father's resistance and inaugurated a new era not only for Jermann but for white vinification in Italy.