Wineries to Watch

Wineries to Watch 2012

Finger Lakes, New York | Ravines

Morton Hallgren grew up in Provence, where his family farmed the Domaine de Castel Roubine and its 170 acres of vines. He studied enology and worked a harvest at Cos d’Estournel in St-Estèphe before heading to the New World. Willy Frank at Dr. Konstantin Frank recruited him to the Finger Lakes from the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and he worked with Frank for six years before starting Ravines with his wife, Lisa, in 2000. They caught our attention for the Argetsinger Riesling, a bottling from one of the oldest riesling vineyards on Seneca Lake. It’s austerely dry andmineral-driven, the kind of riesling that’s hard to find in the New World. This past May, the Hallgrens closed on 42 acres of vineyards and the White Springs winery in Geneva, also on Seneca Lake—a huge step for what has been a small, artisanal project. Suddenly, Ravines is in the big leagues and we’re curious to see what the Hallgrens will do with their new assets. —Josh Greene

Anderson Valley, California | Couloir

Jon Grant was working as a tour guide at Robert Mondavi when he first visited the Anderson Valley in 1997. He fell for the redwoods and the bucolic rolling hills, and he also loved wines. He decided then and there that, someday, he wanted to make single-vineyard pinot noirs from Anderson Valley. After stints at Corison, Plump-Jack and, most recently, Turley, he launched his own winery in 2007 to do just that. He’s now working with some distinctive sites in Marin County as well, turning out pinot noirs that are crisp and transparent, emphasizing freshness rather than extraction. —Luke Sykora

Conca de Barberà, Spain | Josep Foraster

The Foraster family has been growing grapes for generations in Conca de Barberà in central Catalonia, but it wasn’t until 1998 that Josep Foraster began bottling them. His son, Ricard, took over in 2004, and has taken the 84-acre winery to prominence with his wines. The star of the portfolio is the trepat, an obscure variety normally used for rosados or cavas. Foraster opted for a new interpretation, transforming trepat into a delicious, refreshing and electric red ideal for charcuterie. —Patricio Tapia

Alexander Valley, California | Captûre

In 2008, Mike and Carol Foster and Ben and Tara Sharp nabbed Denis Malbec as the winemaker for their nascent Captûre label. Malbec, like his father before him, served as cellarmaster at Château Latour. He had moved to California in 2000, in search of a project he could call his own. Malbec was particularly enticed by the vineyard that the partnership had acquired: Tin Cross, with 240 acres rising from1,600 to 2,500 feet above Alexander Valley in what’s now the Pine Mountain–Cloverdale Peak appellation. The winery’s first commercial vintage was 2009, and the organically farmed vineyard’s plentiful sunshine and well-drained mountain soils, along with the cooling effect of elevation andMalbec’s gentle treatment of the grapes, are already resulting in aromatic cabernet andmerlot-based blends with impeccable finesse and significant aging potential. —L.S.

Naoussa, Greece | Thymiopoulos

In 2008, Mike and Carol Foster and Ben and Tara Sharp nabbed Denis Malbec as the winemaker for their nascent Captûre label. Malbec, like his father before him, served as cellarmaster at Château Latour. He had moved to California in 2000, in search of a project he could call his own. Malbec was particularly enticed by the vineyard that the partnership had acquired: Tin Cross, with 240 acres rising from1,600 to 2,500 feet above Alexander Valley in what’s now the Pine Mountain–Cloverdale Peak appellation. The winery’s first commercial vintage was 2009, and the organically farmed vineyard’s plentiful sunshine and well-drained mountain soils, along with the cooling effect of elevation andMalbec’s gentle treatment of the grapes, are already resulting in aromatic cabernet andmerlot-based blends with impeccable finesse and significant aging potential. —Tara Q. Thomas

Roussillon, France | Domaine Singla

Laurent de Besombes Singla was studying law when he made an about-face and returned home to the Agly Valley, where his family farms 618 acres of vines that have been in the family since 1780. He began managing it in 2001, setting aside 62 prime acres, converting them to organic farming (certified in 2006) and then to biodynamics. He farms only vines that are traditional to Roussillon—syrah, grenache, carignan, mourvèdre, muscat, macabeu and roussanne—at yields as low as one ton to the acre, using them to fill out a broad portfolio of table wines. Hismost remarkable workmay be in Rivesaltes, a category that, like most dessert wines, has largely fallen out of fashion. One taste of his 2003 Ambré, a fortified wine from macabeu matured for five years in old oak barrels, could change that: It radiates sunny flavor, its vibrant acidity teasing notes of orange peel and citrus marmalade from its cashew richness, everything holding to a long, lean line. —T.Q.T.

Weinviertel, Austria | Sohm & Kracher

When Aldo Sohm, the long-time sommelier of Le Bernardin in New York City, and his winemaker friend Gerhard Kracher, of Austria’s Neusiedlersee, told people they were making wine in the Weinviertel, they’d say, “‘Where?! Not the Wachau? What about Kamptal?’ They thought we were crazy,” Sohm recalls. Their first release, the 2009 Niederösterreich Grüner Veltliner, proves that they aren’t: Off 40-yearold vines, left to spontaneously ferment in barrel and bottled without filtration, it’s one of the most profound, head-turning grüner veltliners we’ve ever tasted—savory and succulent, mouthfilling yet structured, with a glinting acidity that aims directly at the salivary glands. Amounts of the 2010 are so small you’re not likely to find it, but keep your eyes out for future releases. —T.Q.T.


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