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Two Paddocks Central Otago

Actor Sam Neill (Jurassic Park – as well as more demanding roles) is a celebrity wine producer in a fashionable wine region. But don’t let that put you off as beneath the lightly irreverent façade there is serious intent here – and very good Pinot Noir. The wines are currently made by Dean Shaw at […]

Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay

John Hancock is one of the industry stalwarts in the modern era of New Zealand winemaking, who first helped establish Morton Estate as a quality leader in the 80s before moving on to form Trinity Hill in the 90s. He has always produced ripe, concentrated, fruit-driven wines – powerful and full, and sometimes oaky in […]

What Are Cover Crops And Why Are They Really Good For Wine?

Farmers and vintners alike would argue magic doesn’t exist in the vineyards that quench our thirst each year, but I’d argue clover — four-leafed or not — comes close, and has been doing so for millennia. Trifolium, commonly known as clover, is a “nitrogen-fixing” plant, meaning it returns nitrogen from the air back to soils, […]

Calcareous Vineyard Paso Robles

Another recently created boutique Paso Robles operation producing low volume wines. Sisters Dana Brown and Erika Messer established Calcareous in 2000 with their father Lloyd Messer. Sourcing fruit from a range of sites but focusing on mainly their own classic limestone planted Westside vineyards, they produce Rhône, Bordeaux and Burgundian wine styles and their property […]

Brander Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley

Bordeaux varieties, both red and white, are the focal point at this property. Decent reds are made in a markedly structured style but the Sauvignon Blancs are perhaps the most striking wines. Like the reds they are more Bordeaux-like than many other New World examples. The Santa Ynez bottling is softly structured with a hint […]

Bonny Doon Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains

Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon operation may have an eccentric and off-the-wall approach to marketing and labelling but the wines are impressive and generally very fairly priced. Grahm has sold his interest in the Big House labels and his output is much closer to his original boutique size of operation. The Rhône varieties are the backbone […]

Spring Mountain Vineyard

Grand Spring Mountain District property that has been up and down over the years but is now producing wines of real style that are representative of the area. The estate vineyards total some 92 ha (225 acres) and owner Jacqui Safra has also acquired three adjoining properties, bringing the total size of the estate to […]

Newton Vineyard Spring Mountain

This well-established Napa operation is part of the expanding portfolio of Moët Hennessy premium wineries around the world which include the likes of CLOUDY BAY. The wines here have always been impressive and reasonably priced. At the lower level the decent Red Label Chardonnay is joined now by a red blend labelled Claret and red […]

La Jota Vineyard Howell Mountain

Throughout the 1980s and 90s La Jota has been a source of some of the most powerful and impressive examples produced in the Howell Mountain AVA. The winery has become famed for massive dense and tannic reds that need considerable cellaring but develop very well in bottle. Ownership has passed from Bill Smith (now vinifying […]

Franciscan Estate Vineyard Oakville

Agustin Huneeus sold Franciscan to Canandaigua in 1999 along with the two sister wineries ESTANCIA and Mount Veeder Winery, although he retained his prestige QUINTESSA operation. The wines here are good and in most cases offer reasonable value for money. They are very much in a rich California vein, being very ripe, upfront and fruit-driven. […]

Forman Vineyard St Helena

Ric Forman makes impressive examples of both Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon which also includes Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Vineyards established in the early 1980s are the source of his excellent raw material. Planted mainly in volcanic gravel and sand, they are sparse and provide naturally low-yielding fruit. The Chardonnay is rich and lightly […]

Chappellet Vineyard Napa Valley

This winery, located on Pritchard Hill close to BRYANT, has had a variable record in recent years. Most interesting is the impressive Chenin Blanc. Vinified from old vines with just a hint of oak this is a striking and unusual example of the variety for California. Las Piedras Cabernet Sauvignon and Signature Chardonnay have both […]

Domaine Serene Dundee Hills

This is a top-class producer of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Considerable investment has gone into the estate and the results are impressive. Yields are kept to a minimum – around 2 tons to the acre – and the harvest is always carried out by hand. Minimal intervention in the cellars means the Pinot Noir […]

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