TOP TEN WINERIES TO WATCH IN 2023

My pick of ten progressive wineries to watch in 2023:

Oregon: WALTER SCOTT
Husband and wife team Ken & Erica Pahlow are making some of the most sought-after Chardonnay from Oregon.  With a combination of Ken’s winemaking and Erica’s sommelier experience, they make a formidable team (pictured above).  Try their Bois Moi Chardonnay 2020 (£25 www.justerinis.com– a one-off composite bottling of six top vineyard sites including X-Novo, Seven Springs and Freedom Hill.  Lovely flinty minerality with lemony fruit and fine depth of flavour.

Spain: BODEGAS LUIS PEREZ
The Perez family have been growers in Jerez region for centuries, but it is the winemaking duo of father Luis Perez and son Willy Perez (pictured above) who are really changing the face of Jerez today.  They make both stylish focused unfortified Palomino wines and very refined terroir-focused sherries.  Check out their impressive range with El Muelle de Olaso 2021 (£18 www.thesourcingtable.com) made from Palomino vines grown on Barajuela albariza soil.  By using 20% sundried grapes and a touch of seasoned oak they have given it a rich texture, nutty undertones, rich peachy fruits with a savoury finish.

Washington State:  GRAMERCY CELLARS
Master Sommelier Greg Harrington (pictured above) discovered Walla Walla wine region by chance and was so impressed he decided to switch careers to become a winemaker.  With his first vintage in 2005, he has now become one of the up-and-coming names in Columbia Valley.  His Syrahs are beautifully made Rhone-like versions, but I particularly enjoyed his lush velvet-textured Gramercy Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – a superb Cabernet with resonances of right bank Bordeaux (£35.99 Selfridges).

Germany: RAUMLAND
On a recent trip to Germany, one of the most impressive tastings we had was with the new generation now running Raumland winery.  You may not have heard of this Rheinhessen-based winery, but they are Germany’s leading sparkling wine producers focusing only on traditional method fizz.  Originally set up by Volker Raumland, now daughters Marie-Luise (pictured above) and Katharina with her winemaking husband Jan (pictured above) are producing superb high quality ‘winzersekt’ such as Raumland Tradition Brut 2010 and Pinot Noir-based Cuvee Marie-Luise Brut 2017 (£17 www.vinello.co.uk)

New Zealand: PROPHET’S ROCK
Kiwi-born winemaker Paul Pujol spent six years in France and two years in Oregon fine-tuning his techniques, before heading home to Central Otago in New Zealand’s South Island.  His tiny winery focuses on Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir – and examples of all three grapes have really impressed me.  I particularly like Prophet’s Rock Riesling 2020 (£21 www.thewinesociety.com) which is crisp, well-structured, richly textured with a flinty incisiveness.

Georgia: TIKO ESTATE
On my recent visit to Georgia, one of the winemakers who showed great potential was Levan Chychynadze (pictured above).  Recently returned from abroad to his native Georgia with his Argentinian wife, Levan’s new range is made with his enterprising brother Giorgi – and clearly show the bright future of Georgian wine.  They currently rely on bought-in fruit and winery space, but have bought a plot of land in lower Khaketi to plant their own vines.  For those who like qvevri wine, Tiko Orange Kisi 2020 (£21.50 Old Butlers Cellars) has lovely tannic grip and deep flavours – and for the red wine lovers, try the dark brooding Tiko Saperavi 2019 (£19.25 Astrum Cellarshas lovely succulent fruits.

Hungary: ZSIRAI
Zsirai is a small winery based in Tokay – with small plots in Somlo and Villany regions as well.  Originally established by the late Csaba Zsirai in Mad in Tokay, it is now run by his enterprising daughters Kata & Petra Zsirai (pictured above).  Their terroir-focused range from dry to sweet is all well-made, but for a sneak preview try their entry level Furmint / Harslevelu blend called Zsirai Tokaji Dry 2018 (£16 www.jascots.com).  Grapes are hand harvested, fermented mainly in barrel (Hungarian oak) initially aged separately for 7 months before making this lush richly textured tangy blend.

France: THIBAUD BOUDIGNON
An exciting young grower (pictured above) who owns just 3.5 hectares in Anjou and Savennieres in the Loire farming his 35 year old vines organically. Originally from Bordeaux, where he trained as well as in Burgundy’s Cote de Nuits, the Loire might seem an unusual choice.  His Anjou Blanc Sec 2019 (£26 www.justerinis.com) made in a mix of old barrel sizes has superb lime and pear notes, light honey, waxy notes, deep fruits and a saline finish.

South Africa: DAVID & NADIA
David Sadie and his viticulturist soil scientist wife Nadia (pictured above) burst onto the Swartland scene just a decade ago.  They focus on Chenin Blanc, which David thinks is the future in this region, making four different wines from the grape – their David & Nadia Chenin Blanc 2020 (£26 www.justerinis.com) made from old Paardeberg vines is whole bunch fermented in old oak and concrete; thrillingly good with clean precise peachy honeyed notes.  They also plan to focus on single vineyard Grenache Noir – and their Pinotage is superb but in short supply.

Uruguay: GARZON
Argentinian billionaire Alejandro Bulgheroni has changed the Uruguayan wine scene with the opening of his dynamic winery built into the hillside in coastal Maldonado near Punta del Este 15km from the Atlantic (pictured above).  It is vast in scale, with 240 hectares of prime new vineyard land on sandy granitic soils – and the wine range is of remarkably good quality considering the age of this project with vines first planted on barren land in 2008.  Focus is on Tannat and Albarino alongside Cabernet Franc, Riesling and Vermentino.  Try Garzon Single Vineyard Albarino Reserva (£19.95 Fine Wine Musselburgh).

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