Domaine La Bouïssière, Gigondas
The original high-altitude estate in Gigondas.
Run by the Faravel brothers Thierry and Gilles, whose father Antonin began is regarded as Gigondas legend, planting the most mountain vines in the area from 1942 until the1960s. During his mornings, nights, and weekends, Antonin and his wife Geneviève began clearing brush and trees in the Col du Cayron hills below the Dentelles de Montmirail, at 500 meters elevation, using the natural geographic profile to marry vines to the slopes harmoniously-- without manipulating the terroir-- the more difficult way to plant in the mountains.
Today their Bouïssière farm includes these original 9 hectares in the Col du Cayron section of Gigondas, as well as another 11 hectares between the Beaumes-de-Venise, Vacqueyras, and Côtes-du-Rhône appellations. When we mentioned Les Pallières to Thierry (the Gigondas estate I knew most during my previous assignment) he began waxing poetic about a bottle of 1990 that he recently tried, wine of a time before the introduction of de-stemming. Or as Hermitage legend, Gérard Chave put it, "Where is the truth? The truth is in the old bottles, before all the tricks and marketing came along." Domaine La Bouïssiere leaves most of their Grenache in whole bunches for Gigondas, ferments only using native yeasts, ages in large old foudres, and bottles without fining or filtration. In short, a Gigondas that is deliciously stuck in time.
They also bottle a Clairette Blanche, labeled simply as a Côtes du Rhône Blanc, which may be the finest expression of this cépage that we've encountered yet.
Domaine des Trois Filles
La Cadière-d’Azur, Bandol
Bandol's Latest Female Star.
Audrey Arlon was the assistant winemaker at Domaine du Gros 'Noré until leaving in 2013 to take over her family's vines in La Cadière-d’Azur. Her parents founded the winery as "Domaine des Trois Filles," named after Audrey and her two sisters, Leonie and Justine. They now farm a modest 9 hectares of old gobelet vineyards which they co-planted with rye, fava beans, clover, and radish sprouts in between the rows. In the spring, they fold it into the earth to protect the soil while keeping humidity and maintaining a low temperature in the increasingly hot weather of Southern France. Giving natural aeration to the roots, and better development of earthworms, they seek to limit the spread of weeds, create greater biodiversity, and promote microbial life in the soil. All of this work in the vines shows in the extreme deliciousness of the wines.
As you would expect in Bandol at this level, Audrey and her sisters use native, wild yeasts in fermentation, use only gravity in the cellar to move the wines, then age in large wooden foudres (giving their Rouge an additional year beyond most Bandol producers), before bottling without any fining or filtration. Bandol Chez Arlon is classic, old-style, but with a graceful refinement that offers immediate pleasure.
Grande Montagne de Reims, Champagne
The Lafalise family has deep roots growing grapes in Grand Cru Verzenay since 1885, but only now with the eighth generation have they finally released their own estate-bottled Champagne. 2.6 hectares (6.4 acres) in chalky Verzenay and Verzy are divided between 40 individual small plots that are organically farmed. Fermentation is done in old barrels from Chassagne, parcel by parcel, and with malolactic naturally allowed. Although he uses a “solera” system to make Champagne with older reserve wines, the vinous style of his Extra Brut and non-dosage blends is less towards the new-school oxidative fashion, and more towards the powerful barrel-aged style of the best Côte d’Or whites, with bubbles.
De Vescovi Ulzbach
The de Vescovi family, has been cultivating grapes and farming apple orchards in the Piana Rotaliana area of Trentino since the early 18th century.
The Piana Rotaliana is the largest plain in Trentino, a triangle with a base along the Adige river and apex at the Rocchetta pass, bounded by Monte Fausior to the south and by Monte Monticello to the north. The land that makes up the Piana Rotaliana was formed thanks to the repeated alluvial contributions of the Noce stream which, until the rectification of 1852, flowed into the Adige river at the town of San Michele all’Adige. The crown of mountains around the Piana Rotaliana plays the dual role of protecting it from the cold winds that blow from the north and absorbing solar radiation during the day, returning the heat at night, creating an ideal microclimate for the cultivation of the Teroldego vine.
In 2003 Giulio De Vescovi relaunched the family business by dedicating himself to Teroldego Rotaliano. He graduated with a degree in Viticulture and Enology at the famous Institute San Michele all’Adige, followed by studies at the University in Florence. Cantina de Vescovi Ulzbach became a reality: the first two new products were placed on the market in 2006, both dedicated to Teroldego Rotaliano.
About 7 hectares (17 acres) are entirely planted with the native Teroldego grape and concentrated in two prized sites, Rauti-Camorzi and Fron. About 5 hectares (12 acres) are planted with 50-year-old Pergola Trentina, the rest of the vines were planted in 1995 and trained Guyot. Mountainside, low-fertility vineyards such as Rauti and Fron (where soil composition is Dolomite limestone covered by a layer of loose alluvial gravels) are ideal to tame the innate vigour of the Teroldego grapevine and to naturally limit high grape yields. Selective hand-picking and low-yields are necessary to soften the naturally high acidity.
Teroldego is an ancient grape variety of at least 500 years, it is considered the “prince of Trentino” and has close kinship ties with Syrah and Lagrein.
AltreVie is the newest project from GianLuca Colombo and Federico Scarzello, inspired by the French negoce. They are passionate about scouting amazing vineyards in Langhe and Roero.
The grapes selected for the AltreVie project come from only the best vineyards of dolcetto, arneis, barbera and nebbiolo.
They started this journey in 2021 and are excited for the wines to be born out of it.
The dolcetto combines grapes from one of Gianluca’s oldest vineyards (50%) and from a top vineyard on the highest hill of the municipality of Barolo (50%).
The arneis is grown in a very sandy and sunny vineyard in the Roero.