My pick of progressive wineries to watch in 2024:
Georgia: ORI MARANI www.orimarani.com
An impressive newcomer to the Georgian wine scene . This small artisan winery in Kartli region was set up seven years ago by French-born Bastien Warskotte (pictured above) and his Georgian wife Nina Gvantseladze. Warskotte was brought up in Champagne – and is now making premium traditional method sparkling wines and authentic still wines in Georgia. His aim is to make complex textured fresh drinkable styles using a mix of traditional Georgia qvevri (underground clay vessels) and barrels. Check out his traditional method Laora Rose NV and Giulia 2017 – and his still white Mariam 2022 (www.266wines.co.uk).
Italy: TENUTA SETTE CIELI www.settecieli.com
Clear favourite at our Super Tuscan tasting, this newcomer to the Bolgheri wine scene is named after the ‘seven skies’. The wine estate (pictured above) is based just above the Bolgheri DOC on Tuscany’s coast, located 350-400 metres elevation above Sassicaia’s first vineyard. The land was initially bought by the Rattis to breed horses and abandoned for 50 years. In 2000 it was first planted with vines and in 2012 Ambrogio Cremona Ratti inherited the estate and focused on lifting the quality. Indaco 2017 is a beautifully dense, structured Malbec/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend (£56 www.swig.co.uk)
Washington State, USA: GROSGRAIN www.grosgrainvineyards.com
Based in Walla Walla in the south-eastern corner of Washington State, this newcomer is showing great potential. Grosgain was set up by ex-lawyer Matt Austin and wife Kelly (pictured above) – and today they specialise in unusual varieties like Albarino (£26.50 www.allywines.com), Viognier, Semillon, Grenache and Lemberger. Their focus is on both sparkling wine and white wines as this suits their cooler higher elevation area, but they also grow dry-farmed Syrah from Les Collines vineyard in the foothills of the Blue Mountains – a grape that Walla Walla is best known for.
England: HERBERT HALL www.herberthall.co.uk
This small artisan estate in Marden, Kent, is one of the most impressive up-and-coming producers on the English wine scene. Set up by Nick Hall (pictured above) in 2007 and named after his grandfather, a famous horticulturalist. He farms 4.5 hectares organically and specialises in vintage single estate sparkling wines. His Herbert Hall Brut 2018 (£39.50 www.herberthall.co.uk; Lea & Sandeman; Fortnum & Mason; Selfridges) is a stylish blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier has a core of fleshy citric fruit, great balance, focus and elegance – and his Rose is also extremely good.
Uruguay: BODEGA PABLO FALLABRINO www.winesofuruguay.co.uk
Surfer/winemaker Fallabrino (pictured above) is a one-off, transforming the country’s flagship grape Tannat into extraordinary wines. He runs his family’s estate (founded 1947) with a modern twist, combining forgotten or old winemaking techniques. In Alcyone Tannat (£23.99 www.winesofuruguay.co.uk) he combines techniques from Barolo Chinato and Marsala to create a wonderfully rich dessert wine. In Angel’s Cuvee Ripasso de Tannat 2016 (£26.99) he dries grapes Amarone-style to create a gamey unusual version of Tannat.
Hungary: HEIMANN & FIAI www.heimann.hu
Zoltan Heimann Jnr (pictured above) is making impressive modern wines at his family’s winery based in Szekszard, a small dynamic wine region in southern Hungary, where Kadarka and Kekfrankos grapes grow so well in the region’s unique loess soils. Heimann makes characterful, fruit-driven, silky soft textured reds like Kekfrankos Szivem Baranya-Volgy 2019 (£27 Howard Ripley Wines) which demonstrates how well Hungarian Kekfrankos has progressed.
Spain: BODEGAS SAN FRANCISCO JAVIER
Legendary winemaker Peter Sisseck (of Pingus and Hacienda Monasterio fame) caused a stir when he invested with Carlos del Rio Gonzalez in a bodegas in Jerez declaring that sherry was Spain’s great white wine. Early attempts show good potential. Vina Corrales Fino Pago Balbaina NV (£34 Corney & Barrow) has a chalky intensity with rich succulent lush fruits – purposely put into a Burgundy bottle to show its similarity with white wine.
Chile: BODEGA RE www.bodegasre.cl
Pablo Morande Snr is a big name in the Chilean wine scene – and this small artisan winery is his new project with son Pablo Morande Jnr focused on two vineyards in Maule and Casablanca. The younger Pablo is experimenting with orange wines, flor ageing, amphora aged reds – and even making vinegar – but the bodegas’ best wine to date is Re Noble (POA Berry Bros & Rudd) a botrytised Sauvignon Blanc sweet wine.
France: DOMAINE FUMEY-CHATELAIN www.fumeychatelain.fr
A new discovery from remote Jura region in eastern France. The domaine is now run by Marin Fumey (pictured above) who worked in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Young Fumey is one of the exciting new generation of winemakers emerging in Jura focusing on organic – and converting to biodynamic. The wines I tasted are showing good potential: Arbois Trousseau 2020 (£30 Sagerandwinebottleshop.com) is silky elegant with a delicate touch and his dense honeyed Vin Jaune (£73) is pricey, but refined.
Greece: ANHYDROUS www.anhydrouswinery.com
Anhydrous is one of the youngest wineries on Santorini island, now with the acclaimed winemaker Lefteris Anagnostou at the helm (previously with Karamolegos). The name means ‘without water’ as drought is a serious issue on Santorini with no rivers or lakes, so they rely on collecting morning dew. Assyrtiko Icon 2021 (£54 Fine Wine Portobello) is their signature cuvee from 60-year-old vines near Pyrgos, matured in concrete eggs; zesty, richly intense, minerally, lingering finish.
California, USA: SCAR OF THE SEA www.scaroftheseawines.com
Pinot Noir lovers should check out this San Luis Obispo winery run by winemaker Micky Giugni (pictured) and wife Gina (aka Lady of the Sunshine). They own no vineyards, but buy grapes from organic or biodynamic growers. SLO Coast Pinot Noir 2020 (£21.95 Cork & Cask Edinburgh; The Sourcing Table) is beautifully made with precise bright fruit. Giugni also makes deep concentrated old vine Chardonnay and Syrah – and a bit of cider.
By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 6 January 2024
Join Rose’s Up & Coming Producers around the World Wine Tasting in St Andrews on Friday 15 March 2024 www.rosemurraybrown.com