Here are some of the new producers we discovered in our tastings in 2018, as well as a few established growers who surprised us with their latest releases. Watch for these 14 names in the year ahead.
Chris Pittenger recently left Skinner, where his Sierra Foothills mourvedres earned him a place on our cover last February. He’s now devoted himself fulltime to the winery he founded in 2009. Look for his 2016 El Dorado County High Country Red, a blend of cherry blossom–scented pinot and the pomegranate flavors of El Dorado gamay, aged in neutral French oak, powerful and impressively structured. —J.G.
Ames Morison planted this estate with Chris James in the southeastern corner of the Alexander Valley in 2000. After checking in with their customers in 2010, Ames changed up his farming and winemaking style to make less extractive, fresher cabernets. His 2015 Fifty Tons Cabernet, organically farmed on steep hillsides at the estate, has a mountain-grown coolness, fragrant cherry scents and staunch tannins, built to age. —J.G.
Chad Stock is a bona fide Oregon naturalista, making site-specific wines mostly from old-vine or old-clone sites, like his 2016 Willamette Valley Dijon Free Pinot Noir, from vines planted before Dijon clones arrived in Oregon. Along with the violet inflections of whole-cluster spice, it’s juicy and fresh, with a tobacco savor and suave tannins. —P.J.C.
Brook & Bull
Ashley Trout worked ten harvests in Mendoza and spent eight years at Reininger Winery in Walla Walla before founding her own label in 2006. Brook & Bull is her latest project, launched in 2016. In a region dominated by wines of weight and mass, Trout makes red wines that feel detailed and precise, such as her 2016 Columbia Valley Cabernet Franc, a red with the warmth of Walla Walla that’s also bright, edgy and savory. —P.J.C.
We want to drink more from this group of winemakers based in South Africa’s Swartland: The team includes Ryan Mostert, Samantha Suddons, Michael Roets and Roland Peens. Mostert’s Smiley V3, a wild take on chenin blanc, is one of our Top 100 Best Buys of 2018. —J.G.
PaCa Imports, Newport, RI
Alejandro Bulgheroni looked to Antonio Antonini when he set out to develop this 540-acre estate in the coastal hills 11 miles from the Atlantic. They planted their first vineyards in 2008 and now farm 1,500 plots, divided according to the soils and the orientation towards the sun. Balasto is a selection of the best of these plots, a blend of tannat (45 percent) with cabernet franc, petit verdot and marselan, and is one of our Top 100 Wines 2018. —P.T.
Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits, Petaluma, CA
While this estate dates to 1679, it kicked into high gear in 2011 when Davis Weszeli took over. The Austrian entrepreneur nearly doubled the amount of vineyard, and instituted an organic, holistic approach to farming. Thomas Ganser, formerly of Salomon Undhof, joined in time to make the 2015s, and they are knockouts. Try the 2015 Kamptal Seeberg Erste Lage Riesling, as heady as a farmstand in August, or the Schenkenbichl Grüner Veltliner, its ripe, umami-rich flavors bristling with brisk acidity. —T.Q.T.
Savio Soares Selections, NY
Star Naoussa vintner Apostoles Thymiopoulos recently set his sights on Rapsani. Like Naoussa, the region specializes in xinomavro, here blended with local grapes krassato and stavroto; the wealth of old vines allowed him to produce deep, concentrated reds right out of the gate. His first release, the 2015 Terra Petra, is rich in cherry-jam flavors with earthy, foresty undertones. —T.Q.T.
Athenee Importers & Distributors, Hempstead, NY
Charly Thévenet is part of the latest generation to change perceptions of Beaujolais. Still in his twenties, he’s established his own estate with a 7.5-acre parcel in Régnié, in the foothills of the Côte du Py. He’s farming his vines, planted in 1932 and 1946, with the intention of bottling a wine without inputs. His 2016 hit with the kind of silky satisfaction you might be willing to pay a lot for in the Côte de Nuits. Check it out in our Top 100 Wines of 2018. —J.G.
Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
Von Oetinger was once a grand estate in Erbach, before a family split divided it in two in 1958. Now Achim Von Oetinger has reunited the two parts to create a meticulously cared for 27-acre estate. His style is for bone-dry wines that have some meat on them, like his 2013 Rheingau Alte Reben Riesling QbA trocken. From his oldest vines, it’s ripe, bold and energetic, the pineapple and peach flavors rippling with acidity, their freshness defying the wine’s age. —T.Q.T.
Sacred Thirst Selections, Moraga, CA
Armand Heitz earned his oenology degree in 2011 and started working with his family’s 12.35-acre domaine. His mother, Brigitte Lochardet, had farmed organically; he converted the vineyards to biodynamic farming and slowly took back the contracts, domaine-bottling all his fruit as of 2015. The vines at his parcel of Chassagne Montrachet’s premier cru La Maltroie date to 1967 and produced a cool, brisk 2014, with delicious depths of fruit focused by limestone freshness. —J.G.
T. Edward Wines, NY
At 32, Francesco Versio already has an impressive résumé. He joined Bruno Giacosa as a cellar worker, and became his oenologist in 2011. He moved on to Luigi Oddero in February 2017. In the meantime, he began working some old plots of nebbiolo on his family’s property near Neive, and bottled his first vintage under his own name in 2013, a muscular Barbaresco with bold plum and cherry flavors, along with bright notes of fennel and mint. He bought another plot in Neive in 2016, and we look forward to the wines from his expanding estate. —S.J.
Artisanal Cellars, NY
Vianney Benoist spent four years on the winemaking team at Domaine Tempier before joining his wife, Laure, at her family’s winery. Working 37 acres of vines under organic and biodynamic principles, they made their first Canadel wines in 2014. Their 2016 rosé is stunning, echoing red Bandol in its meaty mourvèdre savor and firm mineral tannins that last with a sense of delicacy. It’s a rosé that could age, or take on spicy lamb sausages. —T.Q.T.
De Maison Selections, Chapel Hill, NC
Azores Wine Co.
Two island locals, Filipe Rocha and Paulo Machado, joined forces with António Maçanita from Alentejo to start this project in 2014. Focusing on local grapes, they grow green-olive-scented verdelho (the original one, from Madeira) on black volcanic soil. And they blend a savory rosé from saborinho, agronomica, aragones and touriga nacional. The 2017 is as wild and weird as Pico’s volcanic landscape, tasting of orange and turmeric, fruity mushrooms and dried peaches—a wine to chill for wood-grilled sardines. —J.G.
Olé Imports, New Rochelle, NY