In a region blessed with arguably the world's finest terroir and winemaking traditions, yet beleaguered by intervention-heavy techno-winemaking and a reliance on consultants and historic reputations, Arnauld Cassini joins the small cadre of Bordeaux producers creating a quiet revolution. Let's start with the most unorthodox method of Cassini's mad genius: there is no oak used in any of his wines! Cassini decides to let the terroir of St Emilion speak for itself.
Arnauld’s roots are steeped in St. Emilion (he began his career at Chateau Figeac) but today his closest contemporaries are the new wave Loire winemakers like his close friends Catherine and Pierre Breton, who are also helping him convert to Biodynamic winegrowing. He is more likely to look to folks like Didier Dagueaneau in the Loire (who taught him about working in the vines), than to his suit and tie neighbors. Cassini calls himself as a natural winemaker not only because of his almost nonexistent sulfur levels but also because he prides himself on vinifying his wine ‘without artifice’: no oak, no filtering, nothing added.
Ruppert-Leroy, Champagne, Aube
Bénédicte and Emmanuel Leroy
Bénédicte Leroy’s parents were originally sheep farmers settling in Essoyes in 1975 to start a small farm on a clearing above the town. In the 1980s they learned they could plant grapes on the the land they had been renting for the sheep to graze. Little by little, they created a domaine which today is four hectares, not including the garden and small pasture they kept for their own animals. All of the grapes were sold to the local cooperative.
In 2009, when her father was about to retire, Bénédicte left her job as a physical education teacher to take over the domaine. They are working on the conversion to organic agriculture, and started making their own wines. They apply the principles of biodynamics in both the vineyard and the cellar. Their quest for the simplest winemaking has lead them toward the spirit of ‘vin nature’. Each cuvée comes from a single vintage of a single vineyard, bottled ‘brut nature’ with no dosage.
Piot-Sévillano, Champagne, Marne Valley
10th Generation Growers and a love affair with Pinot Meunier!
The Piot-Sévillano family is the latest in a line of 10 generations of Champagne makers.
The family diversified and started growing Montmorency cherries (Following the phylloxera outbreak which ravaged 19th century vineyards). These were highly prized at the time in the Parisian markets.
The entire grape harvest was in those days sold to wine merchants who were the only people who transformed the grapes into champagne. It was Emile Piot (1880-1969), an expert in grafting plants, who dedicated the grounds to grape production.
By hand, he identified and selected the finest grafts, aiming for better and healthier grapes.
It was his son, Alexis Piot (1921-2008) and his wife Jeannine (1923-1967) who decided to start processing the grapes in 1954, when growers in the Champagne region were going through some difficult times.
Alexis Piot crafted his Brut Tradition champagne, which remains one of the family’s most popular wines, and quickly sold all of the 500 bottles he produced that year....
Vadin-Plateau, Champagne, Marne Valley
Pure, elegant, Meunier.
Vadin-Plateau Champagne is a family run enterprise in the heart of the Great Valley of the Marne, in the village of Cumières, near Épernay, the capital of Champagne. Since 1785, a passion for wine and its cultivation has been transmitted from generation to generation and continues today to Yann, the ninth generation.
Domaine Oudin, Chablis, Chichée
Two sisters dedicated to their terroir.
Nathalie Oudin is obsessed with the terroir of Chablis. When asked what she does to make her wines unique- she simple says to take care of the vines as if the were her own two boys: give them discipline (restricting production to a mere 45% to the average of Chablis), feed them well (no herbicides, or pesticides; notice the healthy green vegetation of her vineyard vs all white vineyards that have been sprayed with herbicides), and above all- allow each to be unique (2016 was a tough vintage due to the Spring frost and hail but she still managed to harvest a section from each plot on her 8 hectares, fermentation and bottling separately). These are some of the most exciting wines produced in all of France.
Domaine de la Motte (Michaut), Chablis, Beine
Three big guys making wines with a feminine touch.
Domaine de la Motte is a 25 hectare family-run winery handed down from father to son since 1950. Now under the stewardship of Bernard Michaut, an ex-chef who works with his son Adrien and nephew Guillaume, his winery is small but perfectly formed and has benefited from a recent 1m euro investment. His wine-making is meticulous and the wines are benchmarks for the region. They are fastidious about producing wines which reflect the very particular terroirs of Chablis with vines on both Portlandien and Kimmeridgien soil, concentrated, mineral and very precise wines. Their wines are regularly chosen for the Tastevinage label – a rigorous selection by the Confrérie des Chevaliers de Tastevin of wines they regard as offering the best of the region in terms of quality and style. It is no surprise, therefore, they were named ‘IWSC French Wine Producer of the Year 2013’.
Domaine Borhmann, Côte-d'Or, Meursault
a young domaine with an old soul.
We were introduced to Domaine Borhmann via one of the most respected wine merchants in all of France. Simply put- we were told to visit, taste and experience. We were floored. Domitri Blanc is producing some of the most exciting wines in all of Burgundy. Immediately you are struck by the Domitri's humility. What followed was an unveiling of tremendous knowledge for the vines, terroir and vintification but also a tension and thirst to know more. The wines reflect both Domitri and the domaine's attitude. Pure- not flashy. Subtle- but layers and layers of complexity. Refined while still revealing their true selves. Produced in small quantities and we do everything we can for each bottle.
Domaine Thillardon, Beaujolais, Chénas
Two brothers who will convince you to drink more beaujolais...
When we first arrived to Domaine Thillardon in January of 2016, there was a feeling that we were about to experience something special. My intuition was correct. Sitting in the Thillardon's family kitchen we were poured a selection of the 2014 harvest. Five single vineyards from Chénas and one vineyard from Moulin-à-Vent. The wines were stunning we could all agree but even more thrilling were the sensation and vibrations of each unique terroir. The two brothers, Paul-Henry and Charles, consulted many of the top natural producers including Dutraive and Balagny be starting their own domaine in 2008. Since then they have been cultivating some of the most exciting expressions of Beaujolais.
Château Gaillard, Beaujolais, Morgon
Passed from generation to generation but always digging for more.
Sebastian Gutty is in a long line of Morgon wine-growers. Morgn, known for its power, is met by Sebastian's subtle hand and purist approach. The results are a combination of contemplation and Beaujolais- glou-glous!
Domaine Semaska, Côte-Rôtie, Ampuis
A rebirth takes energy. fortunately Christophe semaska has a lot.
The first vines at Domaine Christophe Semaska were planted in 1988; 1ha38 of Côte-Rôtie at Château de Montyls. This marked the rebirth one of the greatest Châteaux which had been producing from 1789 until the First World War. Today there are 12 hectares of vines extending over several appellations: Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, St. Joseph, Côtes du Rhône and IGP Coteau de Vienne. Under the stewardship of Christophe Semaska the wines reflect both a sense of place and the verve of the man behind them.
Domaine Montvac,Vaucluse, Vacqueyras
Wine made from her intuition and soul. The results: breathtaking.
Architecture by TAKT.