Tag Archives: winemaker profile

Winemaker Profile: Florent Lançon, Domaine de la Solitude

Domaine de la Solitude belongs to one of the oldest families in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and is packed full of history. Wines have been made on this estate for several hundred years, dating back to 1264 when the family arrived from Italy to serve the pope in Avignon. Here we take a look back to the very beginning of how the Domaine started and how current winemaker, Florent Lançon, is taking it forward.

Roman era
The site of Domaine Solitude was occupied as far back as the Gallo-Roman period, as evidenced by the presence of coins from the time.

1264
François Barberini, the first family member to arrive from Italy to the region, is born. He went on to spend time living in Provence as well as the region.

1400s
The Domaine Solitude family made Châteauneuf-du-Pape their home in the 15th century, making them one of the oldest families in the region.

1604
Jean Barberini changes his name to Barberin in order to sound more French. Later, his daughter marries vineyard owner Claude Martin and so the winemaking dynasty begins.

1623-1644
François’ ancestor, Maffeo Barberini, serves as the Pope in Rome under the name Urban VIII. Other family members go on to become Cardinals before settling in Avignon.

La Solitude labels today feature three hats, signifying the two bishops and a Pope in the family’s history.

Middle-Ages
Current wine labels exhibit a number of other links to the family’s history including three bees, a reference to the family in the Middle-Ages.

1815
Another of the family’s ancestors is awarded a medal by Napoleon after the Battle of Waterloo, the medal still features on labels today, giving another nod to the family’s history on current bottles.

1970s
Michel and Jean Lançon begin working at the Domaine under the guidance of their father, Pierre Lançon.

1980s
Following time working under Pierre’s expert instruction, Michel and Jean take over the management of the Domaine.

1999
Jean and Michel begin creating Prestige Cuvee wines to showcase the very best of the vineyards and region.

Today…

Florent Lançon, Michel’s son, now manages the day to day running of La Solitude. His focus is on a perfect balance of tradition and continuous improvement, and he is passionate about innovation. His range of wines includes both traditional styles and more modern interpretations. Careful attention is paid in the vineyard, where the harvest is carried out by hand, and only the best grapes are carefully selected. No fertilisers are used and the vineyards are farmed sustainably.

Florent also balances tradition and innovation in the winery, where tulip-shaped concrete tanks are now used alongside more familiar oak and stainless steel. He believes that using a blend of grapes creates a longer lived wine and expertly utilises the particular strengths of each grape variety to create wines with poise and complexity.

Winemaker profile: Dermot Sugrue

Acclaimed winemaker Dermot Sugrue is passionate about making great English sparkling wines.

Dermot’s passion for winemaking started as a teenager in Ireland, where he experimented with making beer and wine and was inspired to pursue oenology. Dermot’s enthusiasm for winemaking was further fuelled when he was given a copy of Hugh Johnson’s book; Vintage: The Story of Wine. He was so inspired reading it he can still recall whole paragraphs verbatim.

Having previously studied Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia Dermot decided to return to studying and completed a Viticulture and Oenology degree at Plumpton College. He then took this winemaking knowledge forward and gained crucial experience completing vintages in the UK and in Bordeaux at Châteaux including the prestigious Château Leoville-Barton, St Julien.

However, it was his next move that set Dermot on the path to his current success. He joined Nyetimber in 2003, became winemaker a year later and was instrumental in its rise to prominence, competing with the world’s best sparkling wines. A vintage at a Champagne house cemented his skill with fizz and was the final step before Dermot set up Wiston Estate with the Goring family.

Here, Dermot produces his own exciting wine, Sugrue, as well as many other excellent wines produced at Wiston. Dermot focuses on small plots of vines and employs huge attention to detail in both the vineyard and winery to create wines with character and precision. Storrington Priory was planted by Dermot in 2006. The vineyard benefits from the complexity of two soil types and an atypical orientation of the vines.

 

Dermot went on to purchase Mount Harry, a renowned vineyard site, and the two sites provide outstanding grapes for Dermot’s wine, ‘The Trouble with Dreams’, a complex, elegant and award-winning wines which is a culmination of Dermot’s vast winemaking experience and exceptional skill.

Winemaker profile: Matías Riccitelli, Riccitelli Wines

What does the name Matías Riccitelli mean to us, Riccitelli Wines and the wine industry as a whole? We have taken a look at the great man and his back story in our latest Winemaker Profile.

Matías Riccitelli, owner and winemaker of Riccitelli Wines, was born in Cafayate, Salta, a village in Northern Argentina, famous for its wines.

After moving to Mendoza when he was a few years older, he began to study winemaking. The rest is history!

Time spent completing vintages in numerous countries honed Matías’ skills. Following this, he decided that Mendoza was the region for him and decided to focus on exploring the terroir of the region, working as Chief Winemaker for two leading Argentinian wineries.

It’s a family affair! Matías was mentored by his father, Jorge Riccitelli, the first Latin American to win Winemaker of the Year from Wine Enthusiast. Winemaking accolades run in the family with Matías winning Tim Atkin’s Young Winemaker of the Year in 2016.

A keen traveller, he considers himself something of a dreamer and is now fulfilling his dream as Chief Winemaker of his own boutique winery – Riccitelli Wines – which he began in 2009. His vineyards are spread over 50 hectares and three sites within the premium growing region of Lujan de Cuyo, as well as vines in Río Negro, Patagonia. His aim is to use grapes from the most prestigious regions in Argentina and make wines in his own unique style. Matías puts his huge creative energy into creating wines with freshness and vibrancy.

Semillon, Torrontes and Chardonnay are all part of Matías’ exciting range of wines; he is hugely passionate about Argentinian white wines and believes they can retain great freshness and acidity if the grapes come from well-located vineyards.

 

For more information on Riccitelli Wines, speak to your account manager.

Winemaker profile: Elizma Visser, Olifantsberg

Elizma joined the Olifantsberg team in 2015 following extensive winemaking experience; studying Oenology and Viticulture in Stellenbosch and working in France and Italy, before returning home to South Africa.

Her time making wine in Europe proved to be an excellent springboard to go on and start creating elegant Rhône style wines of her own.

Elizma certainly has her work cut out, looking after all areas of the management of the vineyards and winery at Olifantsberg. In the vineyards, Elizma’s focus is on taking care of the soils and maintaining the quality and sustainability of the vines. Whereas her focus in the winery, is to get the best expression of the fruit using a variety of techniques.

Here are a few facts you may not have known about Elizma:

 

  • Wine is a family affair! Elizma is married to a fellow winemaker and they have two young sons
  • A music fan, she likes; Indie Rock, Alternative and Acoustic and would love to pick up learning the guitar again
  • It’s not just rock music that’s a hit with Elizma, she also enjoys collecting rocks
  • Before embarking on her current career Elizma had ambitions to learn Greek and study Philosophy but now it is her winemaking philosophy that is centre stage
  • Favourite quote: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be”
  • Elizma could have ended up on a very different road, if she hadn’t pursued wine, she would have liked to have become a professional rally driver and knows quite a bit about cars
  • Floristry is a big passion for Elizma. She hopes to own a flower shop one day… with a small wine bar inside of course. The Olifantsberg Blanc, with its floral notes, would surely make a great flower shop wine!

 

For more information on Elizma’s wines at Olifantsberg, contact your account manager.

Winemaker profile: Samantha O’Keefe

Samantha O’Keefe has found the diamond in the rough with Lismore Estate. Samantha’s story starts with her moving away from California, to Greyton in Western Cape, in hopes of having a different way of life for her and her family.

The site she fell in love with, Riviersonderend ranch, is 300 meters in altitude at the foothills of a mountain so the vines are chilled by the winter snow and then nourished by the African summer sun, producing fantastic small production, hand crafted cool climate wines.

She bought a dairy farm which she then transformed into a vineyard with the goal of producing superb Burgundian style wines. Samantha then built her own house, constructed the winery and planted the vines on the 25 hectare of the farm suitable for grape growing.

With no background or education in winemaking, and having previously worked in television in LA, winemaking to Samantha was more than just producing wines – it was a method to build something for the family.

After the tough journey of planting vines and making wine, Samantha was very close to giving up the dream of becoming a winemaker and planned to return to California with her sons. But then, Robert Parker galvanized her dreams, writing amazing reviews of her wines in Wine Advocate, and Tim Atkin followed close behind praising Samantha’s Viogniers. Her wines took off internationally, making Lismore Estate Vineyards a huge success story!

The wines Samantha produces are terroir driven and inspired by Rhône producers in Côte Rôtie and Condrieu.

We are extremely proud to be the UK supplier of these hugely impressive, critically-acclaimed wines with six in our portfolio.

For more details, speak to your account manager.

Winemaker profile: Stefano Chiarlo

For generations, the iconic Chiarlo family has produced some of Piedmont’s truly great wines and winemakers. Stefano Chiarlo, Michele Chiarlo’s current Oenologist and Vineyard Manager, runs the winery alongside his parents and brother.

Founded by Stefano’s father, Michele Chiarlo in 1956, the family owns 60 hectares of vineyards and produces single varietal wines from indigenous grape varieties. The winery remains in the town where Michele was born and the family are proud to represent this area, where Michele is a leading figure in the Piedmont wine industry.

Following time spent studying Oenology at the Enological School in Alba, and after a period of National Service following his graduation, Stefano joined Michele Chiarlo in 1991.

Initially working as Assistant to Oenologist, Roberto Bezzato, Stefano was responsible for managing the vineyard and the vinification of Gavi, a hugely important wine for Chiarlo and Piedmont. Following seven years learning the trade at the winery, Stefano became chief winemaker in 1999 (a very good vintage for Nebbiolo based wines).

His winemaking philosophy centres on creating wines which are elegant, with subtle use of oak and respect for the varietal and terroir.

Away from the winery and vineyard Stefano, along with his father and brother, is a keen Torino football supporter. He also enjoys skiing, visiting good pubs and is a lover of the sea.

We are proud to list 14 wines created under Stefano’s watchful eye at Michele Chiarlo in our portfolio, from the iconic Barolos, to the pioneering Barberas, the immensely important Gavis and the delicious Moscatos. For more information on any of these wines, visit our website.

Winemaker profile: Larry Cherubino

Larry Cherubino has been making wine around the world as a flying winemaker (no, that doesn’t mean he whizzes around the vineyards on a jet pack) for over 20 years.  

 

His passion for wine can be traced back to an early age, after being brought up by a family who pressed grapes on their farms and in a small family vineyard. He then went on to work as a cellar hand in Australia and Europe during his time as a student. In fact, Larry enjoyed being around winemaking so much he postponed his degree to experience even more vintages!

 

After graduating in Agribusiness and Horticulture, and with his passion for winemaking now fully ignited, he went on to study further, this time in the field of Oenology at the prestigious Roseworthy College, Adelaide.

 

Following many years travelling the world, designing wineries and vineyards New Zealand, USA, France, Italy and South Africa, and a stint as head winemaker at Houghton, finally, in 2004, Larry bought a vineyard of his own. Investing in the little known, but geographically large region of, Great Southern.

 

In the first year Larry released only one wine and the business was run on a tiny scale. A few years later he had the opportunity to buy the neighbouring vineyard and acres of prime river and vineyard country. The business then took off, growing quickly, with the estate now boasting over 120 hectares.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Larry’s eponymous winery produces a number of ranges, Cherubino, The Yard, Pedestal and Ad Hoc, all with one thing in common -the wines are made with minimal intervention to demonstrate the true quality of the grapes and grape growing.

 

Larry has won numerous plaudits for his wines, in 2011 it was Halliday’s Winery of the Year and in 2017, Best Value Winery, recognising the quality and value of the whole portfolio – 25 out of 35 wines received a prestigious value rosette.

Wines from the whole range constantly win critical acclaim, with nearly every wine he makes getting 90+ Halliday points and several featuring in Matthew Jukes Top 100.

 

Winemaker Profile: Johann Donabaum, Weingut Johann Donabaum

A rising star of the Wachau

Johann’s background:

Despite his youth, Johann has been winemaker of the family estate for a number of years. He already commands a wealth of knowledge and feeling for wine and vine growing, and is not even close to his full potential. Donabaum graduated from the Krems School of Viticulture while still in his teens. Upon returning home, his father gave him the go ahead to take the helm and the young Johann decided to focus solely on producing quality. A seven-month apprenticeship with F X Pichler gained him a great deal of new ideas and insights into the practices of a great wine producer.

Wine before Johann:

During the 1960’s Johann’s father began focusing on the production of wine at the Donabaum estate, where previously Johann’s great-grandfather had split his time between agricultural farming and winemaking. At the same time as producing, bottling and marketing the wine, Johann’s father also opened the Donabaum Heurigen (wine tavern), which closed its doors in 1996 to allow the family to concentrate on the sales and marketing side of the business – although the Heruigen is still open seasonally.

Johann’s philosophy:

Johann believes wines should be mirrors, reflecting origin and terroir, and the meticulousness and signature of the vintner himself. Each vineyard gives birth to the quality of the wine, and only with careful cultivation is it possible to create wines of the highest standard.

For example, each of the three quality designations of the Wachau — “Steinfeder”, “Federspiel” and “Smaragd” — should reflect its own potential and unique characteristics. Despite the difference in price, Steinfeder and Federspiel are not inferior in quality to Smaragd, just different. Johann is particularly taken with Grüner Veltliner, because of its extraordinary versatility, and makes many different styles.

Johann’s vision:

Johann believes traditional knowledge, combined with a modern way of thinking, is the key to the highest quality wine. Some of his ideas for the near future include:

  • Return to vinification of Smaragd in big wooden barrels.
  • Use yeast stems originating from his own vineyards to increase the complexity and shelf life of the wines
  • Increase cultivation of the Neuburger grape, by diligence and selection, to showcase its amazing, inherent potential
  • Expand his base by further lease and purchase of vineyards
  • Increase exports from 15% to 30%
  • Make Donabaum’s Neuburger the ultimate representative of this powerful grape varietal

 

http://www.hdnwines.co.uk/wines-producers/producers/597 

Winemaker Profile: Hamish Clark, Saint Clair

Saint Clair’s senior winemaker Hamish Clark has been at the winery for 13 years. The Zoology graduate worked his way up from the position of cellar hand in 2001 and is now a key member of the winemaking team. Here he shares his thoughts on Saint Clair, foie gras and conquering Everest.

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