Discover the USA
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly with mother nature...
Enjoy this magnificent selection of wine...
Au Bon Climat
Californian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were taken to new heights in 1982 when Jim ‘Wild Boy’ Clendenen and his then business partner, Adam Tolmach set up this Central Coast winery in Santa Barbara County. A believer of cool climate viticulture for these varieties, Clendenen chose sites in the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys where ocean fog from the Pacific cool down vineyard temperatures in the early morning and late evening. With Burgundy as his inspiration, he uses clones from this region and is constantly picking up tips from growers there to further refine his wines. Fruit is picked at optimal ripeness though not at the risk of losing the natural acidity in the grapes. Only the finest oak from François Frères is used with just a small proportion of the final wine making their way into these barrels. The Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir is light and elegant using mostly bought in fruit to produce an entry level wine that is balanced and representative of the variety. It develops some complexity in bottle but it is its freshness and fruit ripeness that give it appeal. La Bauge Pinot Noir combines cherry and plum fruit with a seductive spicy edge enveloped in chocolate richness. Excellent value is to be found here in this structured and ageworthy offering. Hailing from a single vineyard site, the Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay is Clendenen’s finest white wine. Rich but tense, complex and layered, ripe apple and citrus notes develop a more caramel and toffee profile with age. This is a classy, fine wine that reaches its peak at around 10 years of age.
The Anthill Farms winery was set up by 3 Pinot lovers, Webster “Web” Marquez, Anthony Filiberti and Dave Low in 2004 after meeting at Williams-Selyem in 2003 all having worked for a number of years as cellar rats in California, Oregon and Virginia.
In their first year they made just eight-and-a-half barrels of wine – Today they produce six single-vineyard Pinots as well as two or three Syrahs. They started small and have remained so; buying fruit from all over Sonoma and Mendocino Counties with their aim to create Pinot Noirs that “express the growing site and the characteristics of the vintage, and above all else, taste good.”
With todays annual production of around 1,400 cases per year (which as you can imagine are quickly snapped up) if you can get your hands on a case of this, you have really found something quite special and extraordinary.
Betz Family Winery
The Betz Family Winery was started by Bob and Cathy Betz who crushed their first vintage in 1997, producing 150 cases. Their ethos was (and still is) to ‘focus on the expression of the individual varieties’ character and the terroir of the vineyard’ and therefore they also felt it was important to keep the wine making process small, simple and focused.
The Betz Family winery has won several awards for their stunning wines, with the majority of them consistently receiving 90+ Points from Robert Parker. In 2015, their 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Le Parrain was awarded a near perfect score of 99 Points from Jeb Dunnuck (eRobertParker.com).
The winemakers at Betz pay close attention to phenolic development as high tannin levels are common in grapes grown in Washington state. The wines are processed 100% by a gravity flow process with pressing closely monitored and much of the process done by hand. The wines are then aged in 100% French oak barrels. In 2011 Bob and Cathy sold the winery to Steve and Bridgit Griessel with Bob remaining as the winery’s ‘patriarch’ and winemaker. The Betz Family Winery produce wines of ‘individual character, with a blend of richness, balance and pleasure’.
If you have not yet been lucky enough to try a wine from Washington State before, there is no better place to start!
The Chanin Wine Co has established a strong reputation for making some of the most beautiful, exciting and distinctive wines to come out of California in some time and considering it was only launched in 2007 it is hard to believe just how many awards and accolades it has received in such a short period. The winemaker and man behind the name is Gavin Chanin, who himself has received several accolades, including being named one of Forbes ’30 under
30’ in 2011. Gavin’s winemaking career began at 18, with harvest internships at the Au Bon Climat and Qupe wineries in Santa Barbara. At both labels he quickly earned the role of Assistant Winemaker under the expert tutelage of Jim Clenenden (at Au Bon Climat) and Bob Lindquest (at Qupe) and it is in Santa Barbara that he began crafting his own wines from Burgundian varietals, with fruit from some of the greatest vineyards in the area, including Bien Nacido and Sanford and Benedict.
Gavin’s philosophy is to create exciting wines, made in a pure and balanced style that reflect the individual vineyard
in which they are grown, choosing grapes from old vines and picking them early in order to limit the wines alcohol levels and preserve the terroir of the wine. This he does beautifully, making wines of incredible finesse balanced with wonderfully rich flavours.
Not only is Gavin a talented winemaker, he was also an award winning art student and it is in fact his own artwork on the wine labels.
The development of Cristom Vineyards is the result of a twenty-plus-year collaboration between an engineer, a winemaker and a farmer – who are, first and foremost, stewards of the land. Founder Paul Gerrie hired Cristom’s winemaker Steve Doerner and Vineyard Manager Mark Feltz in 1992.
Their winegrowing philosophy begins with respect for the land and estate vines, and the natural process of fermentation. The vineyards and winery are Certified Sustainable by Low Input Viticulture & Enology (LIVE) and are thoughtfully and meticulously farmed with a focus on quality. With minimal intervention during the winemaking process, Steve guides the wines from vineyard to bottle, producing the ultimate expressions of the stellar fruit Mark grows every vintage.
The Drouhin Family’s winemaking roots run deep, having taken hold in Burgundy’s best vineyards more than a century agi. Through the years, there has been a very clear link, a continuum, that inhabits Maison Joseph Drouhin, and now Domaine Drouhin Oregon.
Their estate winery in the Dundee Hills creates elegant, finr Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines forged from their family’s tradition of fine winemaking in France. For more than 25 years, the Drouhin Family has brough a wealth of hard-earned experience to their vineyards in the Williamette Valley, just southwest of Portland, Oregon.
New Wines from Domaine Drouhin
Eyrie Vineyards have a rather special place in the heart of our director and wine-buyer Stuart, as these sensational wines formed the start of his collection over 25 years ago. Which makes it all the more poignant when we say how proud we are to be one of only a handful of Wine Merchants in the UK to stock these beautiful wines.
David Lett was considered a ‘pioneering’ winemaker, planting the first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines in the Willamette Valley and the first Pinot Gris vines in the United States back in 1965. Releasing their first vintage in 1970, Eyrie Vineyards had a strong philosophy which still stands today, ‘to interfere as little as possible with the processes of nature’. David stood by his beliefs and refused to follow trends for dark colour, tannic extraction, new oak and high alcohol – all things he loathed in Pinot Noir.
In 2005 David’s son Jason took over the winery remaining entirely faithful to the Eyrie style; ethereal grace and weightless energy. Yields are low with around 10,000 cases a year and this is one of those wines, when it has gone – it’s gone!
New Wines from Eyrie Vineyards
Founded in 2005 by Master Sommelier Greg Harrington and his wife Pam, Gramercy Cellars (based in Washingon, USA) has very strong influences from Bordeaux and the Rhône in both their approach to wine making and the varietals used. The idea behind Gramercy was to create a winery that was ‘focused on quality, integrity, and sustainability.’
Greg Harrington is one of the very few 130 people in the USA to pass his Master Sommelier Exams and was named ‘Best New Winemaker in Washington’ by Seattle Magazine in 2008 with Gramercy taking the title of ‘Best New Winery’.
Gramercy also has won a number of other awards including ‘Best New Winery in America’ by Food & Wine Magazine in 2010 and has been listed by Wine & Spirits Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Wineries in the World” in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Liquid Farm Winery
The mission of Liquid Farm was simple – to support local viticulture and to create old world style wines with lower alcohol and natural high acidity that they themselves would love to drink. Their goal was to create incredible Chardonnays that would rival that of Burgundy whilst creating awareness about what happens above and below ground throughout the growing experience, and telling the story of how both are inextricably linked to wine. In order to do this successfully they would need a cool climate and were drawn to the Santa Ynez Valley, not only for the cool climate but the soil, the people and their wines. The winery is run by Nikki and Jeff who between them have years of experience in both winemaking, sales and marketing, Jeff having worked for some of the top Burgundy and Champagne houses in France and Nikki obtaining her BA in Wine and Viticulture with a focus on wine business. “Our project’s name reflects our strong belief in that philosophy. It is truly all about place in combination with the highest quality fruit and letting the varietal and regional typicity of the wine shine through from vineyard to glass… Liquid from Farming”.
Formed in 1962 Ridge Vineyards is perhaps California’s most revered and respected wine estate. With an old world ethos to winemaking balance and character are the main requirements for every bottle produced. Paul Draper has been winemaker here since 1969 ensuring that only ripe fruit is used alongside minimal intervention. As such, all wines have medium levels of alcohol, are deftly oaked and are unfiltered in a concerted effort to capture the inherent quality of the wine’s raw material. At the introductory level, Ridge’s Estate Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon offer an immediate drinking experience that’s top notch and affordable. These are made with grapes grown on the estate’s vineyards in the cool hills of Santa Cruz. There is a great track record of these ageing well for up to 10 years from the vintage. Monte Bello is the winery’s range of super premium wines that helped it gain its reputation after the Cabernet Sauvignon placed 5th overall at Stephen Spurrier’s famous Judgement of Paris in 1976. After Stag’s Leap it was the 2nd best performing American red wine that had been rated by leading critics in a blind taste test. It is today a Bordeaux blend featuring cabernet sauvignon alongside merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot ageing well for up to 30 years. Its white companion, a varietal Chardonnay which is held in similar esteem, resembles a grand cru Burgundy with its mineral acidity balancing the ripe fruit and oak.
Over 20 years ago, founding partner, Thomas Stolpman, discovered what he believed to be one of the greatest viticultural sites on earth. Hidden in the hills of California’s Central Coast, on a rare Limestone outcropping & unobstructed from the Pacific Ocean wind, this unique land is naturally suited to grow Syrah and Roussanne grapes.
Stolpman Vineyards are committed to preserving this natural environment for their vines through natural farming, dry farming, & sustainable employment. In the winery, they prefer native fermentation & minimal manipulation. Dedicated to sensible farming & winemaking, Stolpman believe that they can create natural, vibrant, site-specific wines, with a focus unique to Ballard Canyon AVA, California.
Varner Wines are based in the Santa Cruz mountains, California and produce a small production of high class single plot Chardonnays and we are lucky enough to offer these to you.
“In my mind, there is no difference between the vineyard and the cellar. I’m simply just going from the outdoors to the indoors. They are both here, on this one piece of land. I walk from the vineyard, into the cellar, and in my mind, they share the same space. It’s like in France, where you have these small producers who live the same way. ‘It’s wintertime. I’m going to go out and prune, then, I’ll come in the cellar and I’ll think about wine’...There’s that same continuity of creativity there. It follows you around. It’s beautiful. And I think it’s the most direct way to express site. You’re not translating your fruit through a grower or a winemaker other than yourself. My goal is to express site, so this is the most direct, uncomplicated way I know how to do this.” Bob Varner