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There are wineries which have been driven by craft, tradition, and just deliciousness for years, decades, and in some instances centuries. These wineries are the pinnacles of fine wine. This is our list of the producers we feel are worthy of collecting, worthy of drinking, and worthy of a bit more reading. Our cellar book is here for you to learn, drool, and of course shop. Cheers.
One of the original grower champagne houses. Rodolphe, the current proprietor, continues the legacy of making some of the greatest blanc de blancs champagne created in the area. Central to the Domaine is the outstanding Chétillons vineyard in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. The Péters estate has become synonymous with this vineyard, or perhaps it’s the other way around. In youth, the wines here are piercing with finesse. After a few years of maturity, they blossom out, showing layers of minerality and subtle spice.
It's easy to forget that Domaine Dujac was founded by the now-iconic Jacques Seysses in the late 1960s. It feels like a benchmark that has always been there. The number of winemakers in the region and around the world who model their philosophy on Dujac is impressive. The quality here speaks for itself. Dujac sits at the top of the hierarchy of producers in Burgundy. The Domaine is most commonly associated with the grand crus of Clos de la Roche and Clos Saint-Denis but their plethora of premiers cru and village wines are all worth collecting and drinking as often as humanly possible.
Volnay is an enigmatic place. It is nestled between villages that make mostly white wines — or robust, hefty reds. But here, perhaps the most elegant and subtle wines in all of Burgundy are made. That reputation owes a lot to the d’Angerville estate, a fixture of the highest quality Volnay for over two centuries. Guillaume d’Angerville, the current proprietor, took over the estate in 2003, after his father Jacques’ death. He continues the philosophy of low intervention, letting the vineyards express themselves without getting in the way. The result is an exceptional lineup that ranges from the delicious Bourgognes to the singular premiers crus, with Fremiets typically being polished and joyful... Champans, curvier and denser... Taillepieds, structured — and for the lover of a classic, nervous Burgundy. The top of the hierarchy is Clos des Ducs, a mythical vineyard and a wine that deserves a few years of cellaring to really blossom out. Few wines in Burgundy can match its beautiful perfume once matured. And forget what you know about Volnays being light, soft wines for easy drinking – almost none have a track record of being age-worthy like the Clos des Ducs.
A decade ago, Cornas was still somewhat of an insider’s wine. These wines had a reputation for being burly and rustic in comparison with their northern cousins from Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage, but they provided an excellent opportunity to drink pure and hauntingly beautiful Syrah. Auguste Clape (who passed away in 2018, succeeded by son Pierre-Marie and grandson Olivier) was the standard-bearer of traditional winemaking in the appellation. As the pendulum has swung from polish and make-up back to old-school wines, they have gained more of a blue-chip status, but the wines are still frequently good value in comparison, and a must have in any syrah-lover’s cellar.
Domaine Tempier is found in Bandol, a region in the south of France. The owner, Lulu, passed away recently and is remembered as a legend of Provence much like Sinatra is to New Jersey. It’s said that her lifestyle influenced some of the great restaurants here like Chez Panisse. It's smart, timeless, and incredibly elegant. These days it’s the rosé we drink most. It’s the archetype of the dry, French style and you’ll see Bandol on the label. They make a small amount of white wine or Bandol blanc in a style that is similar to the Rhone valley– they are rich and oily. Their singly vineyard reds have come to be collected and are worthy of aging well over thirty years. The main grape being the big and earthy grape mourvèdre.
Cerbaiona, one of the greatest estates in Tuscany, is tiny but mighty: The wines are a top-tier example of traditional Brunello and very small production makes them highly sought after. Diego Molinari, a retired pilot, purchased the estate in the late ‘70s to pursue his dream of winemaking and it’s easy to see why he was attracted to the region — the fruit strikes a perfect balance between the warm ripeness common in the south AND the structure associated with the north. The straightforward process at Cerbaiona uses the traditional techniques of the region. Nothing is taken away and nothing is added. Wine critic Antonio Galloni once said, “If forced to drink only one wine from Montalcino, I might very well choose Diego Molinari’s sumptuous Brunello.”
Gaja was originally founded in the 17th century and is now run by Gaia Gaja, the fifth generation of the family. Gaia’s father, Angelo, is credited with transforming the estate and bringing the region of Barbaresco into the modern age. He’s clearly proud of this, hence naming his daughter Gaja twice. The pride is justified. Starting in the 60s, Angelo was on a crusade to show the world that Italian wine was serious wine. The winery is based in the hills of Barbaresco neighboring Barolo. They also make a small amount of Barolo called ‘Sperss’ This isn’t a vineyard but a romantic name denoting nostalgia. It’s true we have nostalgia for the Gaja style of the 80s. It’s some of Italy’s greatest wine ever.
The late Giuseppe Rinaldi is one of the great traditional producers of Barolo. Like Conterno and Mascarello, Rinaldi makes wines with depth and complexity that require time to show their true colors. They demand commitment, and they reward it. Now run by his daughters, Marta and Carlotta, the 6th-generation estate continues to produce focused, nuanced wines from some of the greatest vineyards in Barolo.
At a time when winemaking styles change as quickly as trends in fashion, it’s important to celebrate the fierce guardians of tradition. Bartolo Mascarello was, by all accounts, the fiercest. His wines were celebrated for their nuance and elegance. Maria Teresa Mascarello, Bartolo’s daughter, has only turned up the quality since the early 2000s. The Bartolo Mascarello winery is worthy of being crowned a landmark of Italian wine. They make one Barolo every year that is a blend of small plots of vineyards. Their dolcetto is considered the greatest. The barbera is the easy drinking wine we wish we saw more.
Serafino Rivella is Barbaresco’s most boutique producer. What do we mean by ‘boutique’? Well, everything at the winery is done by Teobaldo Rivella and his wife, Maria, who only farm one vineyard. That vineyard happens to be Montestefano, the greatest plot in Barbaresco. From the legendary vineyard, they make tiny quantities of only two wines - a Barbaresco and a dolcetto. Opting for methods traditionally found to the south in Barolo, their wines are savory and structured, with the ability to age for a long time in bottle.
If there were an Italian wine hall of fame, Vietti would be an obvious inductee. In Barolo, they were one of the first producers to do single vineyard bottlings. At the time, Barolo wasn’t considered one of the great wine regions so this seemed like a romantic endeavor. Today, these wines are some of the most collectible and cellar worthy wines in Italy. There are eras of experimentation creating wines of different styles. From the early 60s until the 80s they produced certain wines which are no longer made today. You’ll find obscure wines from grapes such as pelaverga and freisa. In the 80s, there was a heroic run of years with ’82, ’85, ’88, and ’89 being the best. Post 1990, they made wines which were better suited for earlier consumption. Beginning around 2010 and under the direction of the founder’s son, Luca Currado, the wines are some of the most elegant and nuanced wines both the winery and Barolo has produced. Pronounced (Vee-Et-Tee).
Every wine region has its Serena Willams, Derek Jeter, or Lebron equivalent. DRC in Burgundy, Chave in the Rhône, Petrus of Pomerol, and without question the wines of Giacomo Conterno in Barolo have equal notoriety. Today the winery is run by the third generation winemaker— Roberto Conterno. He’s continued the tradition of making Italy’s most collectible wine, Monfortino, while also expanding the winery with new Barolo single- vineyards as well as a project outside of the Barolo zone in Gattinara, where he utilizes the same grape, nebbiolo. The style of Conterno is the epitome of balance in wine: they are never oaky nor rustic. They are pale in color, but have a perfume and taste that linger infinitely.
Bernard Moreau is like the Ralph Lauren of Burgundy: His wines aren’t the cool new thing, but they’re classic in a way that is increasingly rare and will likely never go out of style. Moreau’s wines skew towards rich, but never lack vibrancy and clarity. His Chevalier-Montrachet is deep and full-bodied, with flavors of pears, vanilla, and crushed rocks. Some bottles of white burgundy are opulent, others are subtle and crisp. Great bottles, like this one, are somehow both.
Denis Bachelet makes singular wines in Gevrey-Chambertin, a village in Burgundy famous for its powerful pinot. His wines are both ripe and intensely smokey and savory; Red Burgundy is often one or the other, but to be both is a mark of greatness. Bachelet is most closely associated with the great vineyards of Gevrey-Chambertin, capped off by the stellar Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru. Like most top-Burgundy growers, Bachelet is quietly Biodynamic - he’s not doing it for politics, he just wants to be as close to his vines as possible. His wine, for example, is always bottled during a full moon—we don’t know exactly what that does to the wine, but it seems to work.
Josko Gravner farms small plots of vines, which extend from his homebase in Friuli across the Italian border into Slovenia. Back in the ‘80s, Gravner led a group of farmers to experiment with extended macerations (aka skin contact) that lasted months, resulting in deeply colored, powerfully textured whites, that have since become known as ‘orange wine’. Despite the style’s explosion in popularity, Gravner’s orange wines remain the greatest on the planet. His whites and reds are just as collectible, albeit at least as difficult to find.