Wineries to Watch

Wineries to Watch 2013

In our tastings and travels over the year, these new producers caught our attention—people whose wines offer distinctive perspectives on their varied terroirs. Keep an eye out for these 11 names: They’re likely to be increasingly important in the years to come.

California | Deovlet

In our tastings and travels over the last year, we’ve noted some promising new talent—people who are making wines that offer distinct perspectives on their varied terroirs. Luke Sykora reports on one of them—Deovlet. Ryan Deovlet was visiting his cousin in Kona, Hawaii, when he was blown away by the flavors of a single-plantation coffee. Bitten by what he calls “the ag bug,” he signed up for the Willing Workers on Organic Farms program, and ended up working in vineyards in Australia and New Zealand. Now he works at Refugio Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley, and runs his own project on the side. He started in 2008 with pinot noir off one acre of Rick Sanford’s vineyard, La Encantada, in the Santa Rita Hills; more recently he landed some of the old-vine fruit from Bien Nacido and Sanford & Benedict. His light hand, cool fermentations and a flexible attitude toward malolactic give his chardonnays transparency and precision, while his pinot noirs gain delicious freshness and spice from judicious use of whole-cluster fermentation. Deovlet’s 2011 Zotovitch Family Vineyard Chardonnay is worth tracking down—glinting with sea spray minerality, it shows the full brilliance of great Santa Rita Hills chardonnay. —Luke Sykora

Oregon | Chapter 24

Joshua Greene recently talked to Mark Tarlov about his newest venture, the Oregon winery Chapter 24—one of the ventures we earmarked as a winery to watch in our Annual Buying Guide. Chapter 24 is about Fire (volcanic terroirs) and Flood (sediments deposited at the end of the last ice age). Mark Tarlov named his latest Oregon project after the ending of the Odyssey, which some scholars claim was appended long after the original text was completed. It may be his attempt to write a better ending to his short, successful and abruptly terminated wine career at Evening Land Vineyards, the company he founded in 2005. Tarlov, a film producer turned wine entrepreneur, has teamed up Louis-Michel Liger-Belair of Burgundy’s Vosne-Romanée and Mike Etzel, winemaking son of Beaux Frères. Riffing on the “infusion” style of pinot noir Liger-Belair first used to handle the 2003 heat in Burgundy—whole berries, no added yeast and no punch downs—the team presses the wine before fermentation ends, allowing it to finish off the skins. The 2012 Chapter 24, primarily from the Shea Vineyard, has the kind of elegant fruit expression and seamless tannins more often found in Chambolle or Vosne than in Willamette. “I used to get sent home from kindergarten for being disruptive,” Tarlov says. His latest disruption is an exciting new direction for Oregon wine. —Josh Greene

Argentina | Tintonegro

In our tastings and travels over the last year, we’ve noted some promising new talent—people who are making wines that offer distinct perspectives on their varied terroirs. Our Santiago-based critic for South America, Patricio Tapia, has been watching Argentine winemakers Alejandro Seganovich and Jeff Mausbach for years; he reports on their new venture. Alejandro Sejanovich and Jeff Mausbach worked together at Catena for almost 15 years, Sejanovich as vineyard manager and Mausbach as wine educator. In 2011 they began an independent project focused on wines that portray the landscape of Mendoza. They have captured an extraordinary sense of place with Bodeha Teho Zaha Malbec from the Altamira area, and with perfumed Torrontés in Anko, from Salta. In 2012, they launched the Colecciónes line, with wines as iconoclastic as Lambrusco, an extremely fresh red better drunk by the bottle than by the glass, and Criolla, a red made with the mission grape that looks and tastes like fresh-pressed cherry juice—the kind of wine Sejanovich and Mausbach love to drink and sell. —Patricio Tapia

Australia | Luke Lambert

If you’re looking for brisk, peppery syrah without a lot of weight, Victoria’s Yarra Valley offers some of the coolest new releases coming into the market. One winemaker to watch there is Luke Lambert. I recently ordered the Luke Lambert Crudo for a friend who only drinks Champagne and Barolo. She hissed at me as if shiraz were a new form of torture, but her face changed completely when she tasted it. It is, in fact, even lighter than Lambert’s 2010 Yarra Valley Syrah, the fragrant, delicate beauty that had the same effect on our panel this past February. Both are selections from a rocky vineyard high into the Yarra hills, farmed without any chemical additions, made without any yeast additions, bottled without fining or filtration. Crudo is from richer soils and higher yields; the Yarra Syrah is from the rockier bits, yielding complex length, breadth and weightlessness. Lambert is a leader in the next generation from Yarra, looking to fuss as little as possible with finely grown, cool-climate syrah. —J.G.

Chile | Villalobos

Ignored for years, Chile’s old vines are finally getting their due. The Villalobos family in Colchagua is at the front guard of the movement, a winery to watch. At first glance (and second glance, too) the Villalobos family vineyard in Lolol, on the coast of the Colchagua Valley, is a mess. The vines climb up trees, over shrubs and across the ground through the weeds. They call it su viñedo silvestre, a vineyard that had grown wild for more than half a century until 2009, when they decided to make wine from it. Only then did they discover that the vines were carignan. They made 5,000 bottles of Villalobos Carignan Viñedo Silvestre, a cloudy, rosé-hued wine so fresh, juicy and wild that you’ll want to drink it in summer, by the pool, especially if there are sausages on the grill. —P.T.

Spain | Goyo García Viadero

Given the reputation Ribera del Duero has for blockbuster reds, Goyo García Viadera’s wines are a revelation. Here’s why he’s a name to watch. Given the reputation Ribera del Duero has for blockbuster reds, Goyo García Viadero’s wines are a revelation. His family owns Valduero, one of the most important wineries in the area. However, Garcia Viadero, a vineyard consultant, decided to go his own way and show a completely new face of tempranillo. His Peruco, for example, has more in common with Burgundy than typical Ribera del Duero reds: Pulled from a vineyard at 3,000 feet, it’s tense and vibrant with floral delicacy and an elegant texture—a completely new perspective on this famous region in Spain. —P.T.

Croatia | Roxanich

Mladen Roxanish looked all over the world to find a place to launch a winery before he decided that Croatia had all he needed to produce world-class wine. His is a winery to watch. Mladen Rožanich looked all over the world to find a place to launch his own winery before he decided that Istria, his homeland, had all he needed. Climate? Mediterranean—olives and vines are the two major crops. Soil? Terra rossa. He launched Roxanich in 2004, and now farms about 62 acres of vines without any chemical inputs. In the winery, everything ferments spontaneously in older wooden vats, left on the skins up to six weeks for reds, and several months for whites. The 2008 Ines in White is a field blend of riesling italico, sauvignon blanc, vermentino and other varieties he picks all together, ferments and leaves on the skins for up to 174 days. Like most orange wines, it’s spicy and tannic. And yet, unlike most of them, the wine feels fresh, as crisp as an apple, with a turmeric-like tang that matches its hue. It’s a terrific take on the style. —Tara Q. Thomas

Greece | Dio Fili

Farming in an little-known region at 3,116, Dio Fili is making some of Greece’s most exciting reds. Dio Fili is based high up in the Vella Mountains of northern Greece, in a region that had fallen off the wine map until Yannis Boutari (of Kir Yianni in Naoussa) helped his friends Yannis Polyzou and Georgia Gkoutziamani launch their winery in 2007. Now working independently from Boutari, the duo is reviving the sweet wines from sun-dried grapes traditional in the region. Meanwhile, they’re making a dry xinomavro as well, the 2009 their first release in the US. Grown at 3,116 feet, the Xinomavro is intensely cherried, sour and bright, with tobacco scents and mastika spice that leave it feeling cool and fresh. While the tannins are serious, the supple fruit washes over them, culminating in one of the most exciting reds we’ve tasted from Greece. —T.Q.T.

Italy | Mastrodomenico

Farming aglianico at 1,150 feet, Mastrodomenico is putting out reds that redefine what it is to be a Southern Italian red. The Mastrodomenico family has been farming grapes in Barile, a small town on the eastern side of Mount Vulture in Basilicata, for five generations. In 2004, Donato Mastrodomenico and his son, Giuseppe, decided to try making and bottling wines from the 20 acres they farm at elevations of 1,150 feet. They pulled their 2009 Aglianico del Vulture Likos off 40-year-old vines and fermented it without added yeast. It’s one of the most refined aglianicos we’ve tasted, a brisk red with transparency to its fruit flavors in tandem with a firm, brawny minerality. It’s a game-changer in a region more associated with thick, rustic reds. —T.Q.T.

Hungary | Spiegelberg

If you like high-acid wines with palate-whetting minerality, check out Somlo, a small region in northwest Hungary. Spiegelberg is one of the region’s wineries to watch. Somló may be Hungary’s smallest wine region, but its volcanic soil produces white wines to rival Tokaji in their rush of acidity and minerality. Case in point: the wines of Istvan Stephan Spiegelberg, who started making wine as a hobby while working as a test driver for BMW. In 2007, he turned his full attention to his vineyard, about five acres he hand picks mostly by himself. His olazriesling might be the loveliest welschriesling I’ve ever tasted, a big, busty wine with expansive flavors. His furmint is powerful and peppery, rumbling with volcanic energy; it’s ready to take on a mangalitsa pork chop. And the Wedding Night Cuvée, a blend of juhfark with furmint and hàrslevelú, is a lively, palate-whetting thrill, a terrific introduction to the region and its wines. —T.Q.T.

Portugal | Muxagat

Young winemakers are playing with the vineyards and vines of the Douro valley, creating fresh new reds unlike any in the past. Mateus Nicolau de Almeida is one winemaker to watch in the Douro, for bright and earthy wines like his Muxagat Barroca. “This is how people make wine for themselves,” Mateus Nicolau de Almeida told me when he poured the 2012 Muxagat Barroca, a bright, rustic red he makes from high-altitude vineyards in Mêda, where the Douro schist meets granite. The son of João Nicolau de Almeida of Ramos Pinto, Mateus started Muxugat with Teresa Ameztoy, his wife, who is Ramos Pinto’s Douro production manager and enologist. They took over an abandoned winery in Mêda in 2003, using local varieties to make wines that have nothing to do with tradition. Barroca is their most consistently delicious red, but the Signe 2010 caught my attention this summer—a co-fermentation of tinta cao with ten percent rabigato (a white grape), aged for three years in old oak barrels. It has a rough sort of beauty that keeps shifting in the glass. —J.G.


This feature appears in the print edition of Winter 2013.
Like what you just read? Subscribe now
.