Jerome Billard runs the family estate in Chinon and has an impressive CV which includes time working at Pétrus in Bordeaux, Dominus in California and Sacred Hill in New Zealand. He mixes this global expertise with traditional Loire viticulture dosed with a large portion of organic aspirations. With just under 25 hectares of vines at his disposal he makes a range of styles of Chinon of which his 'Temps des Cerises' is the most approachable with its bright cherry flavours and classic 'bite' on the finish.
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In 1760 the Laporte family settled in the region of Montagne St Emilion and started to work a few hectares of vines. The family still own the business and today Bruno Laporte is the head with three Châteaux and an enviable collection of vintage cars. This wine is made in the traditional way with fermentation in large concrete vats and 25% of the wine matured in oak barrels for a year before the final blend is made.
The blue tractor is the Spanish equivalent of the UK 'old grey Fergie', a brand of agricultural equipment ubiquitous in its day and now an icon of endurance fondly remembered for its reliability and simplicity. Tinto de Toro is the dominant grape from this region of north western Spain but we all know it better under the more familiar title, Tempranillo. This vigorous young red was made by winemaker Alvaro Martin from 100% Tinta de Toro from 20 to 40-year-old vines. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks at 26-28 degrees C and spent 7 days skin contact to produce a softer style of Toro wine. Totally reliable, simple and delicious.
We normally avoid buying 'brands' but when when the excellent Bordeaux negociant firm of Sichel offered us some magnums of their well made Sirius, which had been reserved for a customer in the far east who failed to take up his order, we leapt at it. Our enthusiasm came from the wine's maturity. This is a 2004 wine, 12-years old, and as our tasting at Sichel's cellars in Bordeaux confirmed, just about perfect for drinking now. Made from the three classic grapes of Bordeaux -Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc - this is a mellow red, full of autumnal flavours and edged with a light oaky finish.
This wine is from Villany, the sunniest and warmest wine region of Hungary. Mr Gabor Osi is the 3rd generation winemaker, his grandfather started the family business which is based in Nagyharsany, 5 km south from Villany. The grapes are coming from relatively old vines (average 25-years-old) on limestone soil. After hand-harvesting and a triage to sort out only the best grapes, they are fermented and aged for around 5 months in large vats. The Merlot is aged in bottle before release.
The Château has been in the hands of the Couderc family for over one hundred years. Their thirty hectares of vineyards, though not situated on the prime slope below the town of St Emilion, avoid the sandy valley floor and lie on the other side of the valley facing the town. This Moulin de Mallet owes its quality to the painstaking work undertaken in the vineyard in recent years (short pruning, managed grass cover, restricted yields, green harvesting,integrated pest control), as well as the vinification techniques aimed at fostering extraction of the fruit and colour without too much tannin.
From the co-op of Serignan (a town famous as the home of entymologist Jean-Henri Fabre in whose memorial garden are preserved 500 different types of vegetables!) just to the east of Orange. This is the heart of the Rhône and the mix of grape varieties make for supple, heartwarming reds. This Vacqueyras combines the warmth and texture of the Rhône with a distinct spicy edge.
Stéphane Robert founded Domaine du Tunnel (an old steam-engine tunnel runs though the estate) when he was in his mid-twenties. Twenty years down the track, Stéphane has gone from a few rows of rented vines to 10 hectares across Cornas, St Joseph and St Peray. Careful viticulture allows Stéphane to pick late in the season, achieving optimum ripeness and none of the rusticity sometimes associated with Cornas. His wines show ripeness, depth of fruit character and a fine smooth texture. This is a blend of 15 parcels of Syrah, made from - on average - 50-year-old vines. No new oak is used. Impressive, rich, perfumed, supple ripe dark berry fruit. Swathes of ripe sweet tannins, complex notes of roasted meats and game. Powerful yet elegant.
Abandoning Paris and the world of finance, Arnaud de Butler made his home among the vineyards of Bordeaux. After learning the viticultural ropes, he took over from his father at Château Crabitey, where the wines of Château Trebiac come from. Situated 35km south of Bordeaux, the 70 acres of the château is one of the flagship estates of the Graves renaissance. In 1985, they called on Jean-Ralph de Butler, who began the task of bringing their work up to professional standards, getting the vineyard back to peak condition, modernising the production facilities, planting new plots of vines and building a new winery. Since 1999 the estate has been skilfully run by Arnaud. Building on the work that had already been achieved. He focuses a key part of his attention on vineyard practices: ploughing, shoot-thinning, green harvesting, leaf plucking etc. A new winery was built in 2001.
In 1990 Ron and his wife Jamie, bought their first vineyard and in 1995 McManis Family Vineyards was formed with the purpose-built winery arriving by the end of the Millennium. Now the McManis family own over 2,600 acres between the Ripon area and Lodi in Californias northern interior region.
The winegrowing district Carnuntum is a region located south of the Danube River in the state of Niederösterreich (Lower Austria), and extends eastward from near Vienna toward the Slovak border. Carnuntums vineyards are spread out over three undulating landscapes: the Leithagebirge (the Leitha Range), the Arbesthaler Hillsides, and the Hundsheimer Mountains. Stony limestone and loess soils work together with the Continental-Pannonian microclimate and the climatic influence of the Danube to generate the ideal conditions for wine production. Made from 100% Blaufrankish this has a bright and elegant nose with cherry and herbs. The palate displays real precision and very well managed tannins. Fresh and quite serious.