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Celebrating women winemakers

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Veronique Boss-Drouhin heads the winemaking team at Domaine Drouhin Oregon (Photograph supplied)

In honour of International Women’s Day on Tuesday we will today feature wines that are very much influenced by females who are winemakers or who work on their family vineyards.

There are far too many to include in one article. A recent column featured Dry Creek Vineyards and Catena Zapata, both headed up by daughters that have taken the reins from their fathers.

Sorry to say this my fellow men, but women have 50 per cent more neurons in the olfactory centre of their brain than we do, and 35 per cent have an exceptional sense of taste compared with 15 per cent of us.

I have had the great pleasure of meeting a few members of the Drouhin family of Burgundy renown and it is Veronique Boss-Drouhin that they refer to as “guardian of the Joseph Drouhin style”. This family was the first burgundy producer to set up shop in Oregon and Veronique heads up their winemaking team. She also adheres strictly to biodynamic practices, as they do in France.

This is how she describes her 2018 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir from Oregon: “Our 2018 Dundee Hills is complex and structured, a beautiful combination of flavour, intensity, and backbone. Subtle notes of rose petal, raspberry and dark cherries lead into layered flavours of sour cherries, cranberry, black tea, and plum. Although young, there is an extraordinary balance between the fine tannins and energising lift of vibrant red fruit and acidity. This is a wine that will be exciting to follow as it passes the 5-, 10-, and 15-year marks.” Parker’s Wine Advocate gives it 94+ and James Suckling 93. $44.35 (Stock #8077). Biodynamic.

Isabelle Simi took over the responsibility of her family winery as a very young lady when her father and uncle died suddenly in 1904 from influenza. She died in 1981, but she was there during my first visit to this historic Sonoma winery that she guided for over 70 years. Simi kept going, right through prohibition.

Today Melissa Stackhouse is director of winemaking at Simi, and she is a graduate of the University of California at Davis with a degree in viticulture and oenology. Rebecca Valls is the assistant winemaker.

This is how they describe 2018 Simi Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon: “Dark garnet in colour with a ruby edge. Toasty oak frames and adds depth to fruit aromas of dark bramble and dried blueberry, leading into intriguing notes of exotic spices and roasted coffee. Lifted aromas of juniper and subtle violet add generosity, layers, and aromatic complexity to this wine. Dark fruit dominates the entry with jammy black cherry and dark plum followed by black liquorice, cocoa, and toasty oak with a spicy, lifted mid-palate. Incredibly food-friendly and not a puzzle to pair with. $39.70 (Stock #6100).

Federica Stianti Macheroni owns Volpaia with her mother and brother. An ancient Roman hamlet, it sits on the highest hill in Tuscany, surrounded by 1,000 acres of forest, olive groves and biodynamically-farmed vineyards. She has been a charming house guest of my wife and myself and we have sat in their hilltop home and enjoyed fine wine with her and her mother.

The website Vinous has this to say about 2019 Volpaia Chianti Classico: “An attractive mid-weight wine. Silky and beautifully perfumed, this mid-weight chianti classico is a terrific example of the lithe styles that is so typical of Radda. Crushed flowers, mint, sweet red berries and tobacco linger.” 91/100. $29.45 (Stock #8965). Biodynamic.

And now we are off to meet Tamra Kelly-Washington who grew up in Marlborough during the region’s viticulture explosion. Spending school holidays working in vineyards and winery restaurants sparked an early fascination with wine and its creation. With a degree in viticulture and oenology from Lincoln University, she has worked in California, Australia and Italy. She now heads up the winemaking team at Seresin Winery in New Zealand where she began years ago as a laboratory assistant.

Isabelle Simi took over the responsibility of her family winery as a very young lady when her father and uncle died suddenly in 1904 from influenza (Photograph supplied)

Critic Michael Cooper rates the 2020 Seresin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 4.5 stars and writes: “This is one of the region’s most sophisticated, subtle and satisfying sauvignon blancs. It is also one of the most important, given its widespread international distribution and certified BioGro status. The wine (which includes five to ten per cent sémillon) is mostly fermented in tanks with indigenous yeasts, but still a part of the blend is fermented and lees-aged in seasoned French oak casks. The 2020 is a youthful wine, still unfolding. Bright, light lemon/green, it is full-bodied, with strong, vigorous, tropical fruit flavours showing good complexity. Super classic.” $27.65 (Stock #8714). Biodynamic.

Maria Larrea was born and raised in the Rioja district of Spain and today she is the technical director at CVNE. This is how she describes the event that caused me to pursue the distributorship of their wines:

“Every wine I produce is unique and must be a Number 1. The Wine Spectator Number 1 Wine of the Year Award for Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 validated this. I like to believe the award is not just for a vintage but for a brand with more than 90 years of history, its ageing capacity and recognition for the potential of the great wine region of Rioja.

“It was truly a great honour and totally unexpected for Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 to be awarded Wine Spectator’s Number 1 Wine of the Year, because CVNE was the first Spanish winery ever to be chosen as Number 1 and to date we remain the only Spanish winery to be awarded Number 1 wine of the year.”

If you would like to enjoy such excellence, then we can sell you 2014 CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva that garners 94/100 scores from James Sucking and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. It is only made in great vintage years and in very limited amounts. $86 (Stock #9735).

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

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Published March 04, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated March 04, 2022 at 7:59 am)

Celebrating women winemakers

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