"Far from their roots in Poland, South Australia's Henschke family make some of the country's most respected wines."
The Henschke family is one of the longest-established wine names in the Barossa. Established by Johann Christian Henschke in 1861, each generation built upon the reputation for quality. But it was fourth-generation Cyril Alfred Henschke who in 1958 created one of the world’s most highly sought after red wine – Hill of Grace. Today, fifth generation Stephen Henschke and his wife Prue uphold the family name and reputation, as winemaker and viticulturist respectively; adopting biodynamic practices in their estates and using traditional winemaking techniques, continue to craft their white wines with a focus on purity, while their red wines have a strong focus on terroir with grapes sourced from three main regions – Eden Valley, Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills.
“This is a phenomenal red with a complexity, depth and finesse that has never been seen in malbec. A new definition that compares to the greatest single grape variety wines such as Burgundy, Rhone, Barolo or Ribera del Duero. I feel goose bumps from this.” James Suckling on Parcel No.2 W Los Castanos Malbec
Terrazas de los Andes was named by Wine Spectator as ”One of the 20 worldwide wineries which year after year delivers consistent high quality wines.” The vineyards are in the foothills of the Andes, where each varietal is grown at the ideal altitude for optimal development. The pre-phylloxera vines are irrigated with snowmelt from the Andes. Malbec is something of an oddity among red wine grape varietals. It has traditionally been considered difficult to grow and implement in France, a challenging choice that often doesn't pay off. However, once it was brought over to Argentina, the world began to realize how mind-shatteringly appealing it can be. Nowadays, Malbec wines stand toe to toe with the greatest wines of the planet as Argentina's most accomplished red wine varietal.
“In the world of wine, superlatives and high praise are too often bandied about with almost drunken abandon. However, when you get to taste Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ stellar wines, you too will be ecstatically shouting out all these descriptors and more.”
Considered one of the "first growths" of Napa Valley, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars produces renowned Cabernet Sauvignon from its historic Stags Leap District estate vineyards. Founded in 1970, the winery brought international recognition to California winemaking and the Napa Valley when the 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon won the now famous 1976 Paris Tasting, also known as the "Judgment of Paris." Stag's Leap Wine Cellars' three estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignons–CASK 23, S.L.V. and FAY–are among the most highly regarded and collected Cabernet Sauvignons worldwide. The same classic style of the estate wines is expressed in the Napa Valley wines – AVETA Sauvignon Blanc, KARIA Chardonnay and ARTEMIS Cabernet Sauvignon.
Domaine Billaud-Simon in Chablis is comprised of about 42 acres, encompassing four Grands Crus vineyards, including one acre in Les Clos; one acre in Les Preuses; 1.75 acres in Vaudésir; and .44 acre in Les Blanchots. The Domaine also owns four Premiers Crus vineyards, including Montée de Tonnèrre, Mont-de-Milieu, Fourchaume and Vaillons. In addition to its crus wines, Domaine Billaud-Simon makes a Chablis Villages “Tête d’Or”, with grapes harvested exclusively from the estate. In 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic wars, Charles Louis Noël Billaud returned home to Chablis and founded Domaine Billaud-Simon. There, thanks to his family’s holdings, he planted the first vines. Then, a little more than a century later in the 1930s, the Domaine’s vineyards were enlarged with the marriage of his descendant Jean Billaud to Renée Simon. Located close to the Serein River, Jean Billaud’s son, Bernard, took over the estate until its acquisition by Domaine Faiveley in July 2014. Since then, Domaine Billaud-Simon is managed separately from Domaine Faiveley: It has its own vineyard, winemaking facilities and remains dedicated to uphold the same style of the wines while continually striving to improve their quality. Along with technical improvements in the modern winery, manual grape picking is increasingly being practiced for their Grands Crus and selected Premiers Crus.
In La Rioja there are large wineries and also great wineries. A handful of them are century-old, some are very well-known, some are actually quite small. We must not forget family-run wineries and the abundant harvester's wineries or "cosecheros". Viña Tondonia is many of those things, besides being a winery that has been run by the same family since its origins. Through four generations and despite the continuous and tempting offers of multinationals, for a hundred years, R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia is still a single-family winery. Here, the four generations that have directed it have continued with the philosophy and the social and work principles set by its founder more than 139 years ago. Time seems to have come to a standstill at R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia. There can be no other winery tour as illustrative as this in order to imagine life at the great Rioja wineries a century ago. Its wines are unique in Rioja too as they have not yielded to modernity – they are the most classic among the classics. The estate owns 170 hectares of vineyards. Viña Tondonia occupies 100 of them along the Ebro river and produces the most famous wines. Other vineyards are Viña Cubillo, Viña Bosconia and Viña Zaconia. Wines are still vinified with native yeasts, long aging periods in old American barrels (the winery has it own cooperage where barrels are lovingly repaired and fine-tuned), clarified with egg whites and bottled without filtration. Their alcohol volumes are lower than other Rioja wines, whereas acidity is notably higher. Textures are rather special, maybe due to the slow natural decanting that the wines experiment throughout the years they are kept in barrels. R. López de Heredia wines have turned into veritable gems with an increasing number of followers among critics and wine lovers. It is no surprise that the winery, which sold 90% of its wines at home in 1998, now exports half of its production.
"Many wines claimed uniqueness - AO YUN's claim is incontestable" Jancis Robinson, MW
Ao Yun'sstory is now well known among the wine affacionados - After four years of research across China to find the perfect terroir; 314 blocks of vines hand tended by 120 Tibetan farmer families; French wine maker - Maxene Dulou produces a spectacular wine with his Chinese technical team to reflect the mystisim of the sacred Meile Mountains from which Ao Yun was born.
First vintage commercially available was produced in 2013 with merely 24,000 bottles It was hyped as China’s first cult wine, retailing at over USD300 a bottle! However, the reviews have been almost unamiously positive and the wines sold out quickly. With each subsequent release, its reputation grows, number of accolades from renowned critics continue to soar and so does the demand. Only one thing stays relatively constant - production. Interestingly, it is also more difficult to get hold of a bottle of AO YUN in China than other countries who were privileged to be given an allocation. James Suckling summed it up very nicely with the release of the 2106 vintage in his recent article 'AO YUN 2016 - Another Peak for China' as follows:
"This year marks only the fourth vintage of this premium Chinese wine. As Dulou and his team are gaining more experience with their amazing terroir and the people who care for it, they have blazed a new trail in this distant, almost isolated Xanadu in which the conglomerate Moet Hennessy continues to invest heavily. With the vines picking up some age in the future, we have every reason to believe that Ao Yun’s journey as a fine wine from China has just started. If you got a chance to taste the new vintage, you would probably agree that Ao Yun has lived up to the hype as a legendary Chinese wine, and it will continue to ride high in China."
The 2016 has quietly landed in Singapore and we are privileged to be given an allocation. Pick up yours early.