Wineries to Watch 2015 - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Wineries to Watch 2015

It’s exciting to discover a new bottle of great wine, especially when it’s from a winery that’s just beginning to flourish. These 12 wineries caught our attention as talent to follow in the coming year.

Barossa, Australia | Tscharke

In 1998, Damien Tscharke, a sixth-generation grape grower, began adding to his parents’ 15-acre vineyard on Seppeltsfield Road while he was studying viticulture and enology at the University of Adelaide. He planted tempranillo, graciano, montepulciano and albariño at the old Gnadenfrei property, while adding shiraz, mataro and grenache at their vineyard in Stonewell. But it was his old-vine grenache from vines his grandfather planted at Gnadenfrei that caught our attention. It has the raciness that grenache so rarely achieves, its fragrant strawberry-scented fruit cool and rustic—a true Barossa classic from a young producer we’re eager to meet. —Joshua Greene

Aglianico del Vulture, Italy | Carbone

Sara and Luca Carbone grow aglianico, as well as fiano and muscato, in vineyards their father and uncle planted in the 1970s in Melfi . They designed a winery and built an aging cellar into the volcanic rock in 2005, the first vintage they bottled their own wines. They vinified and aged their 2011 Terra dei Fuochi in stainless steel, producing a light and airy take on Aglianico del Vulture. Their top selection, called 400 Some, includes fruit from their older vines. Aged in barrique, the wine is more than present enough to behave as if the wood weren’t there. It’s a heady blast of spice, a red from the south with friction. —J.G.

Chile | Bodegas RE

Pablo Morandé changed the course of Chile’s white-wine history in the 1980s when he began planting vines in the ocean-cooled Casablanca Valley. He was working for Concha y Toro at the time, but planted the vines on his own. Recently, from his family’s home base in Casablanca, he’s launched Bodegas RE, a project where almost anything goes. His portfolio includes whites vinified as reds and reds vinified as whites; grapes from very old dry-farmed vineyards, aged in even older clay amphorae; chardonnay aged under a veil of flor; rosés that taste like robust reds. And they are some of the most exciting wines we’ve ever tasted out of Chile. Bodegas RE is the newest laboratory for Morandé, a winemaker whose curiosity seems to never grow old. —Patricio Tapia

Mosel, Germany | Richard Böcking

Although this estate dates to Napoleon’s time, it had fallen off the map until 2010, when owner Leweke von Marschall decided she either needed to sell the winery or pour energy into renewing it. She went for a complete overhaul, as the estate has great bones—all of its holdings are in top-class sites, such as Trarbacher Schlossberg, a steep slope of decomposed gray slate with vines as old as 80 years. Her new team is led by 33-year-old winemaker Simon Trös, who vinifies without added yeast, and ages the wines in a combination of oak and stainless steel. The 2012s—the first vintage from the renewed estate—are impressive across the board, most especially the Alte Reben QbA, its stony flavor welling up to fill the mouth with a force and presence that promises more to come with time. —Tara Q. Thomas

Bairrada, Portugal | Ataíde Semedo

Ataíde Semedo works closely with Alvaro Castro’s winemaking team in the Dão and farms his own 12.5 acres of vines in Bairrada. He blends an $18 Bairrada from equal parts baga and touriga nacional, fermenting and aging it in stainless steel without any oak. The 2011 is a beautiful, savory, complex and mind-blowing value. Tina Vaughn serves this wine at The Simone, her three-star restaurant in New York, where it is a delicious partner to chef Chip Smith’s roast duck. —J.G.

Russian River Valley, California | Vaughn Duffy

In 2007, Matt Duffy and his wife Sarah Vaughn, both budding wine geeks, moved from San Francisco to Sonoma County so Matt could take a stab at a career in winemaking. He interned at Siduri, then landed a job at Vinify, a custom-crush facility in Santa Rosa. In 2009, they bought enough of their own grapes to make 50 cases of pinot noir and 100 cases of rosé. They now bottle around 2,000 cases each vintage—all from vineyards within an easy 30-minute drive of their house—including one of California’s freshest rosés and a clean, floral Russian River Valley pinot noir. The newest addition is a savory, taut Russian River Valley sauvignon blanc from 40-year-old vines. —Luke Sykora

St-Estèphe, France | Château Calon-Ségur

From 1894 to 2012, the Gasqueton family preserved Château Calon-Ségur’s identity with sobriety and elegance. Today, châteaux Calon-Ségur and Capbern Gasqueton are owned by the Suravenir company, subsidiary of the banking group Crédit Mutuel Arkéa headed by Jean-Pierre Denis. Laurent Dufau manages the estate, while Vincent Millet, the technical director in charge of the vineyards and the wine, came to Calon nine years ago from Château Margaux. Calon is the same 136 acres deemed a troisième cru classé in 1855, a contiguous walled vineyard bordering the town of St-Estèphe. One of the great terroirs of the Médoc, now undergoing extensive renovations, it will be fascinating to see what Calon produces in the years to come. —J.G.

Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon | Walter Scott Wines

Walter Scott was established in 2009 by Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon, young wine professionals from different arms of the industry—Pahlow managed sales at two Oregon wineries, St. Innocent and Evening Land Vineyards; Landon spent her early career as a sommelier, working at 10-01 in Portland’s Pearl District and Mt. Hood’s Timberline Lodge. The winery is on Bethel Heights Road, planted squarely in the blast zone of the Van Duzer Corridor. Focusing on chardonnay and pinot noir, Pahlow and Landon draw nearly all of their fruit from this southerly sub-AVA, turning out wines like the 2012 Temperance Hill Pinot: vinous, earthbound and savory, a wine true to its place. —Patrick J. Comiskey

Spain | Envínate

Four friends from university, Laura Ramos, Roberto Santana, Jose Martinez and Alfonso Torrente are revolutionizing Spanish wine. After graduation from enology school in 2005, they began to consult for wineries. Now they’ve launched their own project, making wines in some of Spain’s most rugged and challenging environments. Focusing on very old vines and native grapes, they work in an old-school way, without any chemicals in the vineyards or additives in the winery, aging their foot-trodden wines in old wooden barrels. Whether it’s a white blended from 100-year-old plantings of gual, listán blanco, marmajuelo, albillo criollo and malvasia in Tenerife, or a wild mencía from Ribeira Sacra in Galicia (like the Parcela Camino Novo, off 70-year-old vines at 1,400 feet in altitude), their wines are fresh, alive and pure in their flavors. —P.T.

Savoire, France | Lambert de Seyssel

Seyssel is a small appellation in France’s Savoie that had once been known for its sparkling wines—particularly those of Royal Seyssel, launched in 1901. The wines were all but forgotten until recently, when Olivier Varichon, the great-grandson of one of Royal Seyssel’s founders, teamed up with Gérard and Catherine Lambert and relaunched the brand in 2008. A blend of 70 percent molette and 30 percent altesse, with secondary fermentation in the bottle, the Petit Royal spent three years on the lees before disgorgement. That time on the lees has given it a fine, gentle texture, broad and enveloping, with lightly toasty wheat notes driven by a brisk, cider-apple acidity. Dry and clean yet full of flavor, it’s an exciting discovery in the world of sparkling wine. —T.Q.T.

Coombsville, Napa Valley, California | Sodaro Estate

Coombsville, just east of the town of Napa, is a new AVA bounded by the walls of an ancient volcano. It’s a relatively cool spot in Napa Valley, close to the San Pablo Bay, with volcanic soils suited to cabernet. Dan and Deedee Sodaro planted 9.5 acres of Bordeaux varieties there, dug a cave and hired Dawnine and Bill Dyer to design their winery and produce their wines. In 2013, they enlisted Denis Malbec, the consultant and former cellar master of Château Latour, to assemble their current team. Their 2010 Felicity blend has the elegant feel of a great cabernet. Between the team and the cool site, this is a cabernet producer to follow. —J.G.

Burgundy, France/Willamette Valley, Oregon | Maison L’Envoyé

This label is based on a collaboration spearheaded by Mark Tarlov of Chapter 24 (a Top 100 Winery) and importer Gavin Speight of Old Bridge Cellars (an Importer of the Year). Though their 2012 Morgon Côte du Py Vieilles Vignes is priced like a standard négociant Beaujolais, they source the fruit from 40-year-old vines and the wine is anything but standard. In future vintages, the team will offer three Beaujolais crus. By paying the farmers up front for their grapes, they are able to purchase top-flight fruit and offer the wines at remarkably low prices. They are also working in the Côte d’Or and in Oregon, where the team is using the label for fruit decommissioned from Tarlov’s Chapter 24. —J.G.

This story was featured in W&S Winter 2016.

This story appears in the print issue of Winter 2016.
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