We are not into the St. Valentine’s thingy, especially this year a table x2 is not even special anymore in Hong Kong, but after all, we want to celebrate togetherness and the special couples that share their life and work in the vineyards, together. Infusing the same joy and passion, harvest after harvest, to their wines.
Here’s a small collection of our beloved winemakers:
In 2005, Yoshiaki Sato and his wife Kyoko, quit their banking jobs and settled in New Zealand to study grape growing and winemaking, gained hands-on experience at Central Otago wineries and started making their minimal intervention wines in 2009. They have been sourcing grapes from two organic vineyard sites in Central Otago and in 2016 they purchased their own farm: a five-hectares vineyard on Mount Pisa, planted with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gamay Noir and Cabernet Franc. Watch this space for the release of their first domaine’s Chenin Blanc. Sato makes elegant, precise wines. He picks early to retain freshness and acidity, and to avoid having fruits that are too ripe. This, and his natural winemaking, are what distinguish him from other winemakers of the region.
Château de la Selve is a magnificent castle residence, a fortified house built during the 13th century, being transformed, century after century, into a farm. In 1990 became the property of Benoît's parents. In 2002, Benoît, who had just graduated from the Beaune wine school, established his wine estate in a part of the property. Situated in the Ardèche region of Southeastern France, here the landscape is one of contrasts, with low lying areas and dramatic mountains. Benoît and his wife Florence manage the Domaine; here they practice an organic and biodynamic culture that preserves the environment and let the terroir express itself. The Estate is around 40 hectares, with 6 different grapes varieties planted, with vines of an average age of 30 years old.
Located just outside Saumur, in the Loire Valley, Domaine Bobinet is Émeline and Sébastien. In 2002, Sébastien inherited from his grandparents two hectares of old-vines estate, that he has since expanded to seven. The decision to work organically was imperative, especially under the influence of his early mentor Olivier Cousin. In 2007, his need for experimentation and interest in carbonic maceration led him to Bernard Pontonnier. In 2011, his partner Emeline, a previous professional dancer and then trained sommelier, joined him in the Domaine. With their collaboration, the domaine took on a new dimension and asserts itself as a solid value for natural wines made in the Loire region.
Today, Emeline is mainly responsible for the vinification, and Sebastien manages the entire viticulture part.
Ruppert-Leroy is one of the most exciting new producers to emerge from Champagne in years. In 2009, Benedict Leroy took over the domaine from her father Gerard Ruppert, who farmed organically since 1970, while selling his grapes to the local cooperatives. It’s only with Benedict that the wines are bottled under the domaine’s name. She manages the winery with her husband Emmanuel Leroy; they keep farming organically the same tiny plots in the Aube Valley, located at the southeastern limit of the appellation, outside the small village of Essoyes, close to the border with the Côte d’Or. Their quest for the simplest winemaking has lead them toward the spirit of natural wine. Each cuvée comes from a single vintage of a single vineyard, bottled without dosage. And since 2013, no sulphur is used either. Their champagnes show elegance, energy, and pure class.
Biodynamic duo of Stephanie and husband Eduard Tscheppe, grow wine in the Austrian province of Burgenland, in the market town Oggau. This wine-growing village is famous for its quality and its long tradition, dating back to the early Romans. In 2007, the couple, who comes from a Styrian family of vintners, started their vineyard following biodynamic principles. Biodynamic means no chemicals, no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers and many other restrictions that aim to maintain the human interference at minimum. Gut Oggau features a tight selection of authentic, typical regional wines, each one with its own personality and character (literally), creating a unique fictional family, a fascinating wine dynasty.
Craven is the winemaking project of husband-and-wife team Mick and Jeanine Craven - Mick is an Aussie and Jeanine is South African, they met in Sonoma for harvest in 2007. After travelling across the world together for four years and learning about wines in Australia, Europe, the States and South America, the couple returned to South Africa in late 2011. They felt Stellenbosch had such an amazing array of sites and terroir, and that it is perfect for what they want to do, which is making site-specific, honest wines. With the aim of rediscovering the best vineyard sites in Stellenbosch, together with a whole group of young guns, Craven Wines is one of the most interesting wine projects in South Africa.
Nikau Farm is home to Dane, his wife Hannah and their son River. The same masterminds behind Momento Mori. The farm is an expansive property of about 95 acres in the Baw Baw region of Gippsland, Victoria. With two small plots of vines on it, both about 27 years old. Here the climate is very unique: with Mediterranean influences being in fairly close proximity to the coast whilst having relatively high rainfall and cool nights because of the elevation and exposure. Following Dane’s philosophy of ‘less is more’, the vines have been farmed organically since they were planted and keep following strictly organic principles, tended to entirely by hand and are managed intentionally to produce extremely small crops. We will release our tiny allocation very soon!
Both from the Loire Valley, Lise and Bertrand have been hailed as one of the rising stars in the Loire Valley and the natural wine world. Lise started working in restaurants, becoming then a sommelier. While Bertrand spent time in the military and then enrolled in a viticulture program. Since 2003, they set in Montlouis and committed to biodynamic viticulture. They farm 11 hectares, working with 100 yo vines of Chenin Blanc in Montlouis, Gamay, Grolleau and Chardonnay on parcels in Touraine. Thanks to them, more young vignerons kept coming to Montlouis (on the left bank of the Loire River opposite Vouvray) - creating a noticeable shift and bringing this appellation into its own, previously considered not much more than Vouvray’s sidekick.
Testalonga was started by husband and wife, Craig and Carla Hawkins, in 2008. After many years of traveling the world making wine, they settled in the Swartland region of South Africa. They source grapes from like-minded winemakers who farm organically, dry-farmed, old vineyards, bottling under the the El Bandito and Baby Bandito labels. The winemaking is carried with minimal manipulation – basically no additives or corrections in the cellar, no fining, natural fermentations, and minimal to no sulphur before bottling. In 2015, they purchased 4 hectares land on the Northern mountains of the region, planting the first vines in 2018 - this new project is called Bandits Kloof. The farm is planted with Mediterranean grape varieties - Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Frappato, Maccabeu. These wines will land in Hong Kong sometimes next year!