Producers

Our Producers

  • Bodega Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina
  • David & Nadia Sadie, Swartland, South Africa
  • Sylvain Pataille, Marsannay, Burgundy
  • Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet Burgundy
  • Jean Foillard, Beaujolais, Burgundy.
  • Thomas Pico, Domaine Pattes- Loup, Chablis, Burgundy
  • Enric Soler, Penedès, Spain
  • René-Jean Dard & François Ribo, Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone
  • Equipo Navazos, Rediscovering Extraordinary Sherries
  • Luis Seabra, Douro, Portugal
  • Eric Texier, Rhône, Brézème
  • López de Heredia (Vina Tondonia), Rioja
  • Rene Barbier, Priorat
  • Veronica Ortega, Bierzo, Spain
  • La Stoppa, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
  • Les Deux Cols, Rhône
  • Artuke, Rioja Alvasia
  • Claus Preisinger, Burgenland Austria
  • Arnaldo Caprai, Umbria, Italy
  • Domaine Vincent Dancer, Chassagne-Montrachet Burgundy

Bodega Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina

Bodega Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina

“There are many ways of discovering a new and great terroir. Luck plays a part, but luck is nothing if you don’t know what you’re looking for; understanding what might constitute an extraordinary terroir is particularly challenging in these days of climate change.”
Nicolás Catena Zapata

Founded in 1902, Argentina’s Bodega Catena Zapata is known for its pioneering role in resurrecting Malbec and in discovering extreme high altitude terroirs in the Andean foothills of Mendoza. The Bodega has been family run for over 115 years and has elevated Argentinian wine making from the everyday to the extraordinary: Despite being a largescale operation, they make superb single vineyard wines and their pursuit of quality has inspired many other Argentinian winemakers.

Nicolás Catena Zapata and his daughter Laura have overseen three distinct revolutions in their vineyards: The first revolution occurred in the 1980’s when better hygiene, improved vineyard management and using high quality oak barrels led to significant improvements in the consistency and quality of their wines. The second revolution was in the 1990’s where extreme high altitude sites were planted against the advice of many other winemakers. The Adrianna Vineyard at Tupungato is over 1500m and produces wines with a power, texture and richness not seen elsewhere in Mendoza. The third revolution was overseen by Dr Laura Catena and this involved splitting large vineyards into smaller ‘parcellas’: She had discovered that each vineyard had a multitude of soil types and sub-strata. Each vineyard parcella is now vinified separately and this has resulted in very specific terroir driven wines being produced. These wines are of the highest quality and can legitimately be considered some of the best in the world.

 

Read more

David & Nadia Sadie, Swartland, South Africa

David & Nadia Sadie, Swartland, South Africa

David & Nadia Sadie make wine in Swartland in South Africa. Their focus is on using old vines which might have a minimal yield, and grapes sourced from dry land bush vine vineyards. They are terroir driven and each of their wines is a clear expression of the region or individual vineyard. They make pure, fresh wines that have had minimal intervention. They are at the forefront of a movement that is making wine in what were considered secondary areas: They have shown that with skill, these same areas are producing some of South Africa’s best wines.

Read more

Sylvain Pataille, Marsannay, Burgundy

Sylvain Pataille, Marsannay, Burgundy

I first met Sylvain at the Natural wine fair in Saumur in the Loire. I had never heard of his wines, but I listened to him present to a Parisian restaurant owner and was impressed by his enthusiasm. When he was finished I tasted through his wines: I was a little surprised that he was showing 6 different cuveés of red Marsannay which could be a diifficult sell! I was very impressed with the purity and intensity of the wines but more importantly how each cuvee demonstrated different characteristics .
I followed his progress over the years and from time to time I would pick up a bottle on my travels. With each vintage, his wines seemed to improve. In January 2017, I flew over and met him in his cellar. He was presenting the entire range to two German gentlemen: He painstakingly went through each of his wines, white chardonnay and aligoté and all the different cuveés of red. When they left I asked who they were and he replied, ‘I don’t know, they wanted some wine’.

Sylvain is the first of the family in recent generations to make wine. The family lost their holdings after the 1st world war. He studied oenology and qualified in 1997 with his first vintage following in 1999. Jancis Robinson was very impressed at a trade tasting in London and said ‘This is a producer who is well worth watching’.

Our first allocation is small so I am in no rush to sell what we have. It appeals to me to see how his wines evolve. He is experimenting with different percentages of whole bunch v whole berry, depending on the site. He works hard to ensure that the wines are as site specific as possible. I like that a lot! These are elegant , focussed wines with a very good tension. They are defined by subtle mineral differences and are age worthy.

Read more

Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet Burgundy

Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet Burgundy

I am very fortunate at 64 Wine to be able to curate a fine collection of wines. While it is very hard to select a favourite it would be difficult to find better than the wines of Domaine Leflaive. Appointed as joint manager of the estate in 1990 and the sole manager in 1993 after her cousin Olivier left. Anne Claude presided over the estates conversion to Biodynamic viticulture and completed this conversion in 1998. She became one of the movements most respected proponents converting many, including Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac. She had the great fortune to have the worlds finest terroirs to work with for the growing of Chardonnay: Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet and Bâtard Montrachet are included in the estate. In 2014 I was honoured to be invited to visit the Domaine. Anne Claude gave generously of her time and tasted each of her wines with me. She and the wine made a huge impression on me and it was therefore upsetting to hear of her death a short time later at the age of 59. The world of wine had lost one of its greats. The following year Decanter wine magazine named her as the world’s best white wine maker. Few would dispute that she deserved this accolade.

 

“If you smell the soil in a biodynamic vineyard, it’s rich, it’s wonderful, it’s full of life. When people call me a madwoman for believing in biodynamics, it’s because they haven’t experienced this.”                  Anne-Claude Leflaive

Read more

Jean Foillard, Beaujolais, Burgundy.

Jean Foillard, Beaujolais, Burgundy.

Jean Foillard makes wine in Fleurie & Morgon where he follows very traditional viticultural practices: He avoids synthetic herbicides and pesticides and his winery is certified as organic. A huge amount of work is done in the vineyard to ensure there is minimal intervention in the winery. Grapes are meticulously pruned, harvested and sorted by hand. Like other wines of Beaujolais, Gamay is the chosen grape but in Jean Foillard’s hands the wines are much deeper and more complex than many of the fruity mainstream wines of the region. His wines are deep, structured and complex with a striking minerality.

Read more

Thomas Pico, Domaine Pattes- Loup, Chablis, Burgundy

Thomas Pico, Domaine Pattes- Loup, Chablis, Burgundy

Domaine Pattes-Loup (which translates as wolf’s paw)   is one of the most interesting estates to emerge from Chablis in recent years.  Thomas Pico inherited 2.4 hectares of vines from his family’s estate that had been producing correct, but uninspiring wines. Thomas worked with Alice and Olivier de Moor who were pioneers in organic viticulture in Chablis and they helped him set up his estate in Courgis which is just outside Chablis. Thomas wanted to improve the quality of his wines and take a leap in a new direction. Against the wishes of his father, he began a program of strict yield control and a conversion to organic viticulture despite being in an inhospitable vinegrowing region: The humid climate of Chablis can encourage pests so it is difficult to follow organic practices.

Thomas harvests everything by hand and ferments all his wines using indigenous yeasts. He does a 14-16 month élévage on the wines and bottles without fining and filtration.  He ferments about 30% of his Chablis in concrete egg-shaped fermenters with the balance in stainless steel.

Thomas Pico is making extraordinary wines for someone so young. I was thrilled to visit him in 2017 and was impressed by the quality of the wines I tasted. His passion, enthusiasm and drive for perfection made a lasting impression.

Read more

Enric Soler, Penedès, Spain

Enric Soler, Penedès, Spain

Enric Soler won Spain’s Sommelier championship in 1997 and eventually took over his families vineyard that was planted by his grandfather in 1945.  I visited him in 2016 and was excited to see what he is managing to achieve with his old Xarel-Lo vines. Xarel-Lo was traditionally used in the making of Cava, but Enric was one of the first to explore its potential in the making of still wine. He has vines which are up to 60 years old which produce very low yields. His subtle, elegant wine is the fruit of a wild planted family plot of some of the oldest Xarel-Lo vines in the world. He farms  biodynamically;  vines are bush-trained and draped in a carpet of thick indigenous ground cover. He is a minimalist in the cellar, leaving the grapes to reflect their terroir. Since his first vintage in 2004, Enric’s wines have helped establish Xarel-Lo as a world-class varietal.

Read more

René-Jean Dard & François Ribo, Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone

René-Jean Dard & François Ribo, Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone

René-Jean Dard and François Ribo were making natural wines long before they were fashionable. They make wines of exceptional quality and interfere as little as possible in the wine making process, but this is much harder than it sounds. As René-Jean says ‘Just because you didn’t do anything to the wine doesn’t mean it’s good’. In-fact making high quality natural wines is incredibly difficult and it’s a testament to their skill that they manage to achieve this.

René-Jean started making wine in 1975 when he inherited a small vineyard from his father. His father had made wine for his own consumption as a hobby rather than as a business. René-Jean started off using the same techniques as his father – no sulphite was used because he did not know what it was! He went on to study Oenology at college where he met Fraçois Ribo.  They started making wine together in 1984 and on their first vintage used sulphite as they had learnt on their course, but they were unimpressed with the results. They perceived that the addition of sulphite had diminished their wines and decided not to use it again.

Dard & Ribo slowly moved towards being completely organic which is difficult given the climate and terrain of Crozes-Hermitage. Today there are still very few producers in this region who are producing natural wines. They aim to make wines that are ‘alive and in most cases they are for drinking young.

 

 

Read more

Equipo Navazos, Rediscovering Extraordinary Sherries

Equipo Navazos, Rediscovering Extraordinary Sherries

The highly respected Spanish wine writer Luis Gutierrez says of sherry: ‘Sherry is not the type of wine you immediately like, it’s more of an acquired taste….but once you are in, you’re hooked’ In Ireland our experience of sherry has often been about sad bottles brought out at Christmas and served to elderly relatives: You might think of sherry as a dusty remnant of the past, but you would be very wrong. In the world of wine, sherry is currently one of the most interesting and delicious styles to explore. One of the producers that has helped create huge excitement around sherry is Equipo Navazos.

Equipo Navazos started out as an informal group of sherry connoisseurs; they sought out obscure and interesting wines that were sitting almost forgotten in the cellars of some of the great sherry houses. Sherry was unfashionable for a period and there were many aged sherries that had sat unsold waiting to be rediscovered. Equipo Navazos would purchase a barrel of a 20 year old Amontillado (for example) then arrange for it to be bottled.  The original bottlings were tiny and circulated amongst a group of about 30 enthusiasts. Word spread about these extraordinary sherries and from 2005 onwards these started to be more widely available, although every bottling is still tiny.

Sherry can seem confusing because it is not just one, but many types of wine from Jerez in Spain. It ranges from pale, elegant and bone dry through to rich, dark and sweet. Great sherry has a savoury note that separates it from most other wines: This obscure salt / umami element is difficult to tie down, but it helps to define the very best sherry. I would urge anyone with a serious interest in wine to try some of the extraordinary sherries from Equipo Navazos. Many wine critics have been blown away by these sherries and I am sure you will be as well.

 

 

Read more

Luis Seabra, Douro, Portugal

Luis Seabra, Douro, Portugal

After qualifying as a viticulturalist Luis Seabra completed a  Masters in Winemaking. He went on to become Head Oenologist at Niepoort and received great acclaim in that position. After nearly a decade of doing something he loved for someone else, Luis decided to start making wine in his own winery. He was incredibly knowledgeable about wine making in the Douro, but decided to explore the terroir in a different, less conventional way than other producers. Mono-varietal, highly extracted and heavily oaked reds have dominated winemaking in the Douro for the last few decades. Instead,  Luis strives to achieve balance and finesse, preserving as much of a vineyard’s character in his wines as possible.

Luis is always looking for the highest quality grapes and deals with several growers whom he knows and trusts. He constantly experiments and explores new possibilities: various soil types (mostly schist & granite), different altitudes (up to 600 meters above sea level), indigenous grape varieties and old vine parcels. Luckily many of the old vine plots which are  tucked away in remote corners of the Douro Valley have  survived, with an odd selection of local grapes intact. Often co-planted, these old vines may seem problematic when an exact breakdown of each variety is required on the label, but for Luis Seabra, this is a problem of secondary importance. Thanks to these, his wines are marked by exceptional length and concentration of flavour.  French and large Eastern European oak barrels are used for maturation and in some cases for fermentation, but preserving the character of the grape and expressing the vineyard remains a priority. Apart from producing wines in Douro Valley, Luis Seabra also makes unique example of Vinho Verde DOP, called Granito Cru. The fruit for this premium white comes from four different, north facing plots with old vines planted on pink granite soil in the best parts of the region, near Melgaco.

Read more

Eric Texier, Rhône, Brézème

Eric Texier, Rhône, Brézème

Eric trained under Jean-Marie Guffens in Mâcon , a wine maker for whom I have great regard. He began biodynamic winemaking in 2001 and became certified in 2003. While making wines in several areas his main focus was on the small and little known appellation of Brézème in the north Rhone. Historically the appellation rivalled the great wines of hermitage 100 years ago. Sadly however by 1961 a mere 1ha remained under vines.
Eric is widely regarded as the leading wine maker in the region and while he follows biodynamic principles he is not a slave to the movement. Sulphite is used only at bottling and so qualifies under that rather nebulous banner of ‘Natural wines’

Read more

López de Heredia (Vina Tondonia), Rioja

López de Heredia (Vina Tondonia), Rioja

A trip to Lopez de Heredia is to understand the huge significance tradition and continuity can have on wine making. Over the last 50 years there have been great changes in Rioja and most wines made today bear little resemblance to wines made a generation ago. An exception to this are the wines of Lopez de Heredia. They avoid modern wine making shortcuts and stay true to their own time-honoured method of wine production. María José López de Heredia kindly showed me around her families vineyards and winery.

When you walk around the Lopez de Heredia winery you are struck by how little has changed: I have watched them making their own barrels – the only wine maker to do so in Spain. Temperature is controlled during fermentation by the opening and closing of doors rather than through refrigeration. Little has changed, but this is not a quaint cottage industry; it is a serious winery run by an extraordinarily knowledgeable family who are passionate about the wines they produce. Their wines stand out from the crowd because they could not be made anywhere else; that’s one of the reasons they are so special.

Gerard Maguire

Read more

Rene Barbier, Priorat

Rene Barbier, Priorat

Rene Barbier was one of the founding members of the Gratallops group that managed to put their small corner of Priorat on the map because of the quality of the wines they were producing. They used local grape varieties like Cannena blended with imported French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon. They were largely responsible for the elevation of Priorat to DOC status, the highest wine classification in Spain. Rene established his Clos Mogador estate in 1982.

I climbed through the vineyards with Rene which all have to be worked manually as they are so steeply terraced.  I was interested to hear about the biodynamic methods he is using in the vineyards: These sound curious but clearly produce great wine as I found later at a tasting with Rene.

Read more

Veronica Ortega, Bierzo, Spain

Veronica Ortega, Bierzo, Spain

Veronica Ortega was born in Cadiz in Southern Spain. Her first interest in wine developed through the first wine of her region – Sherry. She went on to work in Priorat  for Daphne Glorian (Clos Erasmus) and Alvaro Palacios. She spent time in New Zealand & Burgundy learning about viticulture. In Burgundy she worked at Comte Armand & Domaine de Romanee Conti. After a further 2 years gaining experience in the Northern Rhône she moved to Bierzo in Spain to set up on her own. Her first four vintages were vinified in the cellar of Raul Perez. Since 2014 she has had her own space to make wine.

The region of Bierzo has a long tradition of wine making and is interesting  for its geographical location and strong  Atlantic  influence. Veronica has old Mencia vines in her vineyards and is creating new and exciting wines with these

Read more

La Stoppa, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

La Stoppa, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

La Stoppa is an ancient estate with vineyards stretching along the Trebbiola valley, not far from the river Trebbia, in the province of Piacenza. The estate extends over 52 hectares, 30 of which are planted with vines and dominated over by an elegant medieval tower. Over a century ago, the estate’s previous owner planted French varieties, producing both wines of significance, as well as others of curiosity through the addition of Italian styles: Bordeaux, White Bordeaux and Pinot Noir. In 1973 the estate was acquired by the Pantaleoni family who, within a short space of time, had invested in and restructured the vineyards, as well as renewing the cellar. Today the company is headed by Elena Pantaleoni, with the assistance of winemaker Giulio Armani. The naturally low yields (due to the average age of the vines and poor soil) together with the intrinsic quality of the grapes, have made possible the creation of wonderfully characteristic wines, which reflect their vineyards of origin and speak for themselves without the need for excessive reworking in the cellar. This does not mean that no use is made of modern technology or small barrels. On the contrary. However, these serve to accompany the wine towards its full maturity rather than to falsely modify it in any way. Today La Stoppa produces a limited number of wines: some derived from the local varieties – Malvasia, Barbera and Bonarda, others from historically introduced varieties of French origin such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. The objective is to create modern wines without betraying the history and expression of the territory, manifesting themselves through the subtle tones and unique character of the wines produced.

Read more

Les Deux Cols, Rhône

Les Deux Cols, Rhône

For the past 10 years Simon Tyrrell and Charles Derain have been working with one of the most progressive and respected Co-ops in France, Cave d’Estezargues based in the Southern Rhone near Avignon. The Co-operative’ began a small revolution in the ‘Co-op’ world in 1995. The ten growers began a program of vinifying their wines from the best sites, separately. This evolved further when they became one of the first, if not the first, to follow largely ‘natural’ processes in their wine making. They opted to use natural yeasts and followed organic practices. Wherever and whenever possible they shunned filtering and fining of the wine.
Late in 2016 I joined up with Simon and Charles in a new project. We purchased a small 6h/a site near St Nazaire within the Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP), Cotes du Rhone. The three of us share an interest in wines that are not manipulated and are ‘of the land’.
After several years we were lucky to locate this small plot on an elevated site, 220 metres. It is surrounded on four sides by forest renowned for wild boar and wild mushrooms. The vines range in age with the oldest being 70yrs. The soils are a rare mix of limestone, loess, sand and clay. The combination of these factors will help us achieve our goal of making wines with finesse and lower alcohol levels. When we acquired the vineyard, it was in poor condition and we have embarked on a careful regeneration of the vineyard, without chemical treatments. We hope to have completed the important aspects, replanting, fertilizing, cutting back invasive tree roots and moving large amounts of soil by the start of the 2018 growing season.
In this our first year we are already following organic principles. Our vines are largely Grenache and Syrah with some Carignan and very old white vines of Bourboulenc and Clairette. Our first vintage is in barrel and is showing great promise.

In 2018 we are working on a new vineyard site that will produce a completely new wine called Le Chemin des Fonts (The path of the Fountain) named after a natural spring on the site.. The video above shows the vineyard in June 2018.

Gerard Maguire

Read more

Artuke, Rioja Alvasia

Artuke, Rioja Alvasia

Since 1991 Miguel & Conchi Blanco have been making wines under the Artuke name: This  is derived from the names of their two sons Arturo & Kike who are also involved in the family business. Bodegas Artuke is a 22 hectare  estate in Banos de Ebro, Rioja Alavesa. This region is cooler than other parts of Rioja due to the influence of the Atlantic breeze.

The Blanco’s make wine outside of the strict DOC controls in Rioja as they believe it allows them to express the wines origins and purity of fruit more clearly. This is a huge risk for a winemaker but I think it has really paid off. Artuke consists of five separate sites where grapes are grow. Each has a different soil type and altitude and each of their wines are distinctive and represent their place of origin.

Read more

Claus Preisinger, Burgenland Austria

Claus Preisinger, Burgenland Austria

Wine is in the blood of Claus Preisinger: He comes from a wine making family, studied Oenology at school and college then trained at wineries in Austria, Italy and California. Today he makes wine from a scenic location on the edge of Lake Neusiedl, with 18 hectares of vines spread between three separate villages. All his sites are farmed according to biodynamic principles. He focuses on indigenous varieties such as Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch, Weissburgunder and St Laurent.

Claus’s approach to wine making is very much about minimum intervention in the vineyard and the winery. His mantra is ‘pure, natural and low-tech’ and that is what attracted us to his wines. His wines are a pure expression of the grapes and soil they are grown in but are far from simple.

Read more

Arnaldo Caprai, Umbria, Italy

Arnaldo Caprai, Umbria, Italy

“One of the greatest pleasures in my professional life over the past fifteen years has been the discovery of the wines of Marco Caprai and, through him, the tremendous potential of Sagrantino, at the time a totally unknown grape which no one, even in the wildest stretch of his imagination, could have ever considered a variety capable of giving some of Italy’s greatest wines. Some of Italy’s most important professionals work here”. Robert Parker
His latest mission is “Montefalco 2015: The New Green Revolution.” Started in 2010, Caprai’s goal is to produce a sustainable viticulture protocol, specific to his region and his indigenous grapes, which can be used as a model for others. The protocol focuses on farming techniques, including biodynamic and organic methods. Caprai is also an active member of Symbola—the Foundation for Italian Quality, an important group of entrepreneurs dedicated to promoting Italian excellence.
For all these lofty accomplishments, Wine Enthusiast is pleased to name Arnaldo Caprai our 2012 European Winery of the Year Wine Enthusiast

Read more

Domaine Vincent Dancer, Chassagne-Montrachet Burgundy

Domaine Vincent Dancer, Chassagne-Montrachet Burgundy

The ever-shy Vincent Dancer’s reputation has grown spectacularly since 2010. Yet Dancer remains a private man. I like Dancer for his modesty but I love him for his wines. On my last visit to Dancer I bumped into a Belgian importer when tasting at Domaine Rapet. We talked outside about the sources we buy from. He doesn’t buy from Dancer because Dancer has nothing to sell him. The Belgian said he had been buying in Burgundy for 20 years but discovered Dancer too late. He went on to say that he wished he had an allocation from Dancer more than any other address in Burgundy. Tells you something!

Read more

Wine Notes

Browse The Wine Diary Archives