Meet the maker
One of the finest sources of Pinot Noir, not just in the United States, but in the world, Bergström's story began in 1999, when Josh and Caroline returned to the Willamette Valley, where his parents had been sowing and ploughing under rich green cover crops to revitalise the soil and prepare the land for vines. During his first year back from France, Josh planted vines and purchased grapes from other vineyards to make the first vintage of Bergström wine. He sourced fruit from other vineyards until 2001, when he produced his first wines using grapes from his family's vineyards.
The estate has more than 36 acres under vine, all of which are organically certified. Additionally, since 2000, the farming has been biodynamic and the results have impressed with an extra degree of vitality and freshness visible.
The amount of effort that Josh invests in the vineyard is one of the key reasons the wines are so impressive. Ten months of the year he is out on his tractor, all day, managing the vineyards. His approach is painstaking, meticulous and has been an inspiration to many young winemakers in the region.
Meet the maker
Château Lafon is unique in Sauternes. Located in the heart of the Sauternais, it is in the middle of the famous Yquem vineyards, the best site in the region, and blessed with vines that are over 50 years old. The story goes that the Lafon family had always had these plots and decided to build the château on top of them in 1867. With the Great depression in the 1920’s, the estate ran in to financial difficulties and the family were forced to sell the property in an auction – at which point the Dufour family stepped in.
While most of its neighbours are owned by multinational companies and foreign investors, Lafon is now in its 4th generation of the Dufour family’s ownership and has kept its independence despite the difficulties of making (and selling!) Sauternes.
In total Lafon has twelve hectares of vineyards (98% Semillon and 2% Sauvignon Blanc), planted on gravelly ridges, on top of limestone subsoil and (as well as those next to the château itself) spread across Fargues, Bommes, Preignac and Sauternes, especially on slopes adjacent to the best site of the legendary Château Guiraud. Up to six harvests are done by hand in order to select only the best, noble rot-affected grapes. The winemaking is traditional and uses indigenous yeast for the fermentation, with twelve months elévage in French oak barrels, many reused from Yquem.
Meet the maker
An ever-restless character, it was a surprise to all (not least himself) when owner Jason Edward Charles decided to put down roots and establish Vinca Minor in Mendocino, California.
Originally a native of Detroit, Michigan, Charles's first passion was photography. After college he travelled the world pursuing this interest until he returned to the US, where he waited tables in New York's fine dining scene and developed his second great passion - for wine.
After various internships and studies in Northern California and Bordeaux, where he learned every aspect of the winemaking process from soil to bottle, he formally established Vinca Minor in 2013. He works with various high quality Mendocino vineyards, including some of the oldest dry-farmed Carignan in California.
Meet the maker
Childhood friends Nathan Roberts and Duncan Arnot-Meyers founded their winery in 2001. Nathan grew up around wine thanks to his grandmother’s marriage to Robert Mondavi and his father’s career as a cooper (Nathan now makes all the barrels for Arnot-Roberts), while Duncan had spent years making wine at Caymus, Groth, Kongsgaard and with Pax Mahle at Wind Gap. Initially their focus was just on making great Californian wines, but when the cool 2005 vintage gave them wines in a more austere, high acid style than the region was used to, Nathan and Duncan reacted completely differently to practically everyone else in California – they loved them and decided to pursue lower ripeness levels and higher acidity in all of their wines henceforth.
Their focus shifted to the best cool climate sites they could find, most of which were struggling to sell their fruit due to the obsession with high sugar levels that was pervasive at the time. Vineyards like Clary Ranch, Fellom Ranch, Luchsinger and Griffin’s Lair are lauded today, but not long ago it was only Nathan and Duncan that wanted their fruit. The winemaking at Arnot-Roberts is decidedly low-intervention, with spontaneous fermentations and no interventions aside from conscientious additions of SO2.
Meet the maker
Rita & Rudolf Trossen
Rudolf and Rita Trossen’s winery is located in Kinheim, among the slate slopes close to the banks of the Middle Mosel. The extraordinary microclimate in the Mosel valley and the soil, easily warmed by the sun and “breathable” through its slate soils, produce very elegant, mineral-driven and fine Rieslings with a unique balance between acidity and fruit. With such exceptional terroir, Rudolf believes it is up to the winemaker to let it “sound” through the wine. In 1978 Rudolf switched to biodynamic farming methods for the family vineyards, a step taken after thoroughly studying Rudolf Steiner’s original lectures on the subject. The aim was to “revitalise” the soils and in turn increase the vitality of the vines. His vineyards are easily visible as a result, with a distinctive green colour the comes from the other ground crops growing between the vines. In Rudolf’s own words: “We believe that the less the winemaker interferes in the entire process of the winemaking (from the vineyard to the cellar), the better the true character of the vineyard is able to fully develop.” Rudolf believes that the use of biodynamic preparations has balanced and refined the wines, leading to more delicate and concise characters. Ever the pioneer, in 2010 he took his principles a step further by offering his “Purus” range. The wines are biodynamic of course, but also use the natural wine approaches of zero intervention, so are unfined, unfiltered and have no added sulphur.
South Australia, Australia
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