Chateau Miraval: Of Superstars and Rosé

225-20140630.jpg

"i'm a farmer now," says Brad Pitt. here's the story of how he and Angelinia Jolie came to become wine partners with the Perrin family at an historic Provence estate

By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator June 30,2014

One of the biggest wine stories in recent memory comes in the form of a squat Burgundy-shaped bottle of rosé from Provence. Not just any rosé, but one that arises from the winemaking passions of Hollywood's most famous celebrity couple—Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

For Pitt, 50, a longtime wine lover, the Miraval rosé is the culmination of a dream. "We became impassioned with this place, which could produce its own wine, its own food, and become a place where artists could congregate and share ideas," Pitt told Wine Spectator. After renting Miraval for several years, he and Jolie bought the property in 2012 for an estimated $60 million. Read the full story in the Wine Spectator. 

Wine Country Travel: En route in Provence

225-20140630.jpg

By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator June 30, 2014

When it comes to dream destinations, few have been mythologized as much as France's Provence. This sprawling, sun-splashed Mediterranean region—bursting with olive groves, orchards, wild herbs, vineyards and antique stone villages where pastis and rosé flow—has for generations drawn moguls, movie stars and legions of tourists in search of a piece of the good life.

Yet Provence has managed to keep its authentic heart intact as it has evolved. A boom in worldwide rosé demand has brought recognition to regional wines and given a boost to producers and investment. (See "The Rosés of Summer".) The region's capital, Marseille, is undergoing a renaissance with some of Mediterranean Europe's boldest and most ambitious architectural and restoration projects along its stunning waterfront. A new generation of chefs is not only preserving Provence's classic market cuisine, but also celebrating it with modern twists.

Bandol-- the Hard Way

RC_Espinasse2_052614_225.jpg

Jean-Marc Espinasse stood overlooking his day-old Bandol vineyard with an expression somewhere between exhaustion and bliss.

"It's been a fantasy for me to be here," said Espinasse on his hillside in coastal Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, surrounded by olive trees, pine forest, sea views and 2,000 stubs of grafted Mourvèdre vinestock in an acre of freshly turned clay.

It was Sunday, a day of rest for the 47-year-old Marseille native and former Rhône winemaker (see our previous blog on him) who sold his Domaine Rouge-Bleu in 2012 to do Bandol the hard way. The day before, he and a team that included friends and his 19-year-old son planted the first vines at his Mas des Brun property—working from dawn and finishing under car headlights. This followed a year of clearing trees, removing boulders and preparing soils.

Exiled on Wine Street

RC_Hedonism_051214_225.jpg

Yevgeny Chichvarkin is a big-shouldered guy who likes big wines—preferably in very big bottles.

When he opened a store in London nearly two years ago and decided to call it Hedonism Wines, he really meant it. Hedonism displays dozens of great wines—Bordeaux to Barolo to Spain and Sonoma—in huge formats that are at least eight times the size of a magnum.

Chichvarkin, 39, takes particular pride in a 27-liter bottle (equal to 18 magnums) that he commissioned of the 2010 vintage of his favorite Rioja, Bodegas Roda Cirsion, listed at $14,000.

What’s the idea of such a bottle? I ask. He looks at me like I'm crazy.

“Idea?” he shrugs. “Open and drink.”

Chichvarkin, a self-made business whiz turned political dissident who fled his native Russia five years ago, is one of wine retail’s most interesting characters.  Read more at the Wine Spectator

Map Man

wscover-20140615.jpg

Italian cartographer Alessandro Masnaghetti charts vineyards from Barolo to Bordeaux

By Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator June 15, 2014

When Alessandro Masnaghetti looks at vineyards, he sees things most of us don't.

Standing atop a hill in the middle of the Barolo appellation at noon on a late winter day, he faces some of Italy's most renowned vine-planted hillsides. He analyzes the way the sun and shadows fall on every contour, considers each exposition and notes the grade of each slope. Then he melds this information into his knowledge of where Nebbiolo grapes ripen to produce the deepest, most complex wines.

At 52, Masnaghetti is Italy's leading vineyard cartographer and a meticulous student of geography's influence on wine. Sturdily built with a trimmed, white Hemingway beard, he points to the long ridge that forms Cannubi, less than a mile away.

All in the Family

225-20140531.jpg

A New Generation at Saint-Emilion's Beau-Séjour Bécot

By Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator May 31, 2014

The vineyards that gently slope from the heights of the picturesque medieval village of St.-Emilion produce some of Bordeaux's most prized wines. Yet this famed plateau is also home to some of the region's most divisive family intrigues.

In recent years, dissension and fallings-out, fueled by what are among the wine world's highest real estate prices—topping $1.5 million per acre—have led many a château to be sold to deep-pocketed outsiders or corporate conglomerates.

In this environment, Château Beau-Séjour Bécot is a rarity. This prestige estate created in the 1960s by merging the Bécot family's own ancestral property with a neighboring estate is now passing to yet another generation, without controversy. The Bécots themselves have the rare distinction of tracing their roots in St.-Emilion winemaking back more than 200 years to the French Revolution.

Antinori's Architectural Labor of Love

RC_AntinoriStairs_500.jpg

Before Marchese Piero Antinori began work on one of the world's most expensive and daring wineries, the 75-year-old vintner approved an estimate of the cost. The final amount was nearly double.

"Piero was in love with the project. We were all in love," Marchesi Antinori's CEO Renzo Cotarella admits with a laugh. "And when you are in love, you find reasons to rationalize the love."

"Of course it was going to be more expensive," Cotarella says with a shrug, "but we wanted to believe otherwise."

After seven years of work, nightmarish construction problems and a budget that ballooned 170 percent to more than $130 million, Marchesi Antinori's flagship property opened last year on a hillside in Chianti Classico. It was immediately praised for its audacious environmental design, folded into the contours of a hillside in the town of Bargino...Read more at the Wine Spectator 

 

 

Letter from Lambrusco Country

Blog_Camuto_225.jpg

Trattoria La Busa, on the southern outskirts of Modena, is a window onto Emilia-Romagna's traditions: Italy's fastest cars, fantastic food and its most misunderstood wines. 

Ferrari-racing memorabilia cover the walls, platters of melt-in-your-mouth salumi lap around the dining room, and the kitchen turns out delicious handmade pastas drizzled with thick traditional balsamic vinegar. And dominating the wine list is fizzy red Lambrusco.

This Lambrusco is not the sweet red fizz that became Italy's most exported wine in the decades after the 1970s. It's the good stuff: dry, not-quite-sparkling, easy-drinking wine crafted from select grapes and offered at reasonable prices.

Fausto Altariva, 41, is the fourth-generation Lambrusco maker at his family's Fattoria Moretto in the rippling hills of Castelvetro di Modena. "Our goal is to make a wine of terroirs, like other fine wines," he says... Read more at the Wine Spectator 

 

Free Beppe!

RC_Rinaldi032414_225.jpg

How new Italian wine labelling laws are stifling Barolo traditionalists.

Giuseppe Rinaldi has always danced to his own tune.

A producer of great old-school, cask-fermented Barolos, Rinaldi has been guided by his own gut and local tradition—not others rules or expectations.

When I first met him a couple of years ago, I asked a simple question: Was his 16-acre estate organically certified?

"I am nothing," scoffed Rinaldi, only half joking. "I am an anarchist!"

Portrait of a Young Négociant

A new generation is transforming Bordeaux's most misunderstood profession

By Robert Camuto - Wine Spectator April 30, 2014

Mathieu Chadronnier, who at 35 years old is already one of Bordeaux's most influential wine négociants, got rid of his private office long ago.

After being named head of the major fine-wine reseller CVBG in 2001, he began knocking down walls and hiring young, tech-savvy people who loved wine. Beginning with just one assistant, he increased CVBG's buying-and-selling team to eight in Bordeaux, plus another in Hong Kong.

Syndicate content