Meet the maker
Simpsons Wine Estate
Owners of Simpsons Wine Estate Charles & Ruth Simpson have been making award-winning wines at Domaine Sainte Rose, their stunning, southern French property, for the past 17 years. Combining Old World terroir with New World techniques in the vineyard and winery, they produce an eclectic range of award-winning wines, which have won international acclaim and are sold around the world.
In 2014, they bought their expertise and savoir-faire back to the UK, establishing Simpsons Wine Estate in Barham, Kent, with an aspiration to create the finest quality Traditional Method English sparkling wine. Simpsons Wine Estate now has 30 hectares of vineyard, planted with the grape varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The vineyards occupy glorious positions on the sunny, sheltered slopes of the North Downs, protected from the whimsy of the English climate by ancient woodlands and anchored in the iconic, free-draining, chalky soils, so revered in the world of sparkling wine.
In 2016 a state-of-the-art winery was created in Barham in preparation for their first harvest and a modern tasting room was completed during 2017, complete with a helter skelter slide.
From 2018, Simpson's estate has also begun to produce a range of still wines from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Crucially, these are produced from Burgundian clones, specifically intended for still wine production. This gives their still wines a ripeness and complexity often lacking in those made by other English producers, whose wines are made from clones better suited to sparkling wine.
Meet the maker
In his recent review of the Sandhi wines, Antonio Galloni said: ‘It is quite conceivable that within a few years the Sandhi Chardonnays and Pinots could become reference point, benchmark wines for Santa Barbara, and California, for that matter’. This sort of praise will come as no surprise to those that are familiar with the project - a collaboration between Rajat Parr (wine director for the Michael Mina restaurant empire) and winemaker Sashi Morman (also behind Evening Land, Stolpman and Piedrasassi).
Santa Barbara is a very exciting area of California for those that are looking for wines with poise, finesse and great acidity to match the natural ripeness of fruit. Founded in 2010, Sandhi (which is the Sanskrit word for collaboration) work with fruit from the finest vineyard sites in the region and produce small volumes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in a low-tech, hands-off way.
The wines undergo wild fermentations, there are no additions (except for some sulphur), they all go through malolactic conversion and a conservative amount of new oak is used during elevage. All of this conspires to give wines of incredible minerality and purity that are fully deserving of the plaudits they are receiving.
Meet the maker
Backhouse is a label from O’Neill Vintners, one of the leading producers of quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in California. It was started by Jeff O’Neill, whose family have roots in winemaking dating back to the 1930s.
The inspiration for Backhouse comes from an old home that was once a refuge for vintners, writers, artists and anyone wanting to enjoy the Californian serenity. The vineyards are located in California’s famous Central Coast region that extends from the South of San Fransisco down to the Santa Barbara Highlands.
The Chardonnay is a lovely, fresh style with very gentle oak influence. The Pinot Noir, with the lion share of the fruit coming from Lodi, is a soft and elegant style wine with plenty of red berries and dark cherry on the palate.
Meet the maker
Domaines Pierre Chavin
Pierre Chavin have been leading innovators of low and non-alcoholic wine for over 10 years. It was the brain-child of experienced oenologist Fabien Gross and Mathilde Boulachin, who cut her teeth in the marketing world before falling in love with wine and making it her career. Together they have revolutionised and disrupted the non-alcoholic market with the quality of their wines.
The vineyards are spread across beautiful Languedoc-Roussillon, the perfect region and terroir for growing Merlot and Chardonnay. Pierre Chavin take extreme care when making their wines, harvesting at night to maintain optimum freshness, before a gentle pressing and fermentation. The alcohol is carefully filtered, ensuring the character of the varietal is maintained.
It's easy to see why Pierre Chavin's iconic ‘Pierre Zero’ range of 0%, alcohol-free wine has become a global success, even receiving acclaim from Andreas Larsson, winner of the coveted 'Best Sommelier of the World' award.
Meet the maker
Domaine Christophe Vaudoisey
Dating back to 1804, the Vaudoisey family have quite a few branches making wine in the village of Volnay, but it is Christophe that has developed the most prominent reputation in recent years following a string of awards in the Guide Hachette.
After taking over 11 hectares from his father in 1985, Christophe became the 8th generation to make wine at the domaine. After building a brand new winery in 2008 he was able to marry a traditional approach to viticulture with modern equipment, and while good before, the results have been superb since. Following 18 months in barrel (30% new) the wines are bottled without fining and filtration.
These are silky smooth, elegant wines that exude class. There is a bit of white in Meursault, but the lion's share of production is red. The domaine has holdings in a number of prestigious 1er Cru climats, but the village wines from Volnay and Pommard offer superb value for money and are drinking beautifully already.
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