In the small town of Montbrison-sur-Lez in the northern reaches of the Southern Rhône, surrounded by vines and olive groves, lies Domaine Gramenon. The serene beauty and idyllic surrounds were exactly what Philippe Laurent and Michele Aubery-Laurent were looking for to raise their young family.
Philippe was a talented vigneron, and together with Michele, they set about transforming these historic vineyards to organic and biodynamic viticulture, rebuilding the old farmhouse and converting it into a cellar. Their first release under the Domaine Gramenon label was in 1990.
Things were going well, with Philippe gaining international acclaim for his complex and concentrated wines, made naturally from their 100-year-old vines. But in 1999, tragedy struck. Philippe was killed in a hunting accident, leaving Michele alone to deal with their three children, vineyards and winery.
Crushed but undaunted, Michele stepped up, boldly taking up the reins and carrying on where Philippe left off. Despite not having her husband's experience or reputation, Michele was no stranger to Philippe's way of working. She followed his blueprint both in the vineyards and the winery, but also began to add her own voice to the wines. In doing so, she has managed to catapult Domaine Gramenon into cult-like status.
Today Michele is aided by her son Maxime Laurent (an incredibly talented winemaker in his own right), and the wines have never been better. All of their vineyards are still managed biodynamically, with certification in 2010. In the winery, too, Michele applies a careful, natural winemaking philosophy, allowing the fruit and the terroir its purest expression. Only the smallest amounts of sulphur are added at bottling.
Don't be fooled by the lack of appellation status for Gramenon. These are some of the most complex, layered and beautiful expressions of Grenache and Syrah coming from the Southern Rhône. Search the collection here.
And keeping it in the family, search son Maxime's wines here.
Brendon Keys creates art. Or as we like to call it, wine.
Having decided early on that #cheflife was not for him, Brendon threw in the teatowel to step into the winemaking ring, with a few creative and interesting side projects along the way. Studying viticulture and oenology in his native New Zealand, Brendon left the land of the long white cloud to begin a winemaking world tour that would take him and his wife Kirstyn from the McLaren Vale to the Napa Valley and to Argentina. But it was in the Adelaide Hills that they decided to call home. The quality and balance of the fruit spoke to Brendon. The Keys started up their BK Wines label in 2007 with the same artful skill and passion that Brendon had applied to his stints as a professional snowboarder and a DJ in London during the peak of the house music scene.
Working closely with growers to source exceptional grapes that reflect the individuality of a particular site, Brendon's approach to winemaking is minimalist yet creative. He has experimented with extended skin contact for both red and white varietals and non-conventional fermentation techniques. The current release of the Pinot Noir that has undergone full carbonic maceration is just the thing for spring with its vibrant allure of spiced cherries.
The BK Wines truly are homemade. Enjoy them at home, perhaps with some house to mix it up on your own deck. Their home is here.
Staff Pick: Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
Sur Lie and thanks for all the fish!
Melon de Bourgogne, known simply as Muscadet, is grown in the western-most part of the Loire Valley, near the Atlantic coast of France, and is the perfect accompaniment with all things from the sea.
Mineral and citrusy, the saline influence of the sea is transferred through the soils where it grows around the French city of Nantes. Muscadet is the wine equivalent of seasoning your seafood with lemon and salt, and the Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet comes with a lick of anise in its gentle fruits. Texture and complexity come from the "sur lie" aging, and this bright and refreshing Muscadet is excellent value for today, or to be enjoyed as it develops over the next few years. Delicious. Catch it here.