Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Part Two: Wineries To Watch For In 2023

 Part Two of my wineries to watch for list includes more wineries from Argentina, Brazil, Romania and Portugal with additional wineries from the United States!

Virginia, USA
Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains are so beautiful that I had to include more than one picture to capture the sheer loveliness of this region. Two wineries that impressed me so very much are Ankida Ridge and historic Barboursville.    

        Christine Wells Vrooman with Winemaker Son, Nathan

Ankida Ridge Vineyards and Winery  (Amherst County, Blue Ridge Mountains Va.) 
The caption on its home page reads "where Heaven and Earth join" and when I pass on, Ankida Ridge located on Chestnut Ridge, Virginia, would be my choice of Heaven! Purchased in 1999 by Dennis and Christine Vrooman, this stunning property with a backdrop that requires three pictures to do it justice, is only equaled by its great wine and altitude (1800 feet)! Their son Nathan is the talented winemaker! 
The superb six acre vineyard produces some of the finest Pinots that I have ever tasted. Chardonnay, Gamay are also grown on the property. Ankida produces a great "Pinot Noir Vintage Reserve", "Blanc de Noir" (Pinot Noir) and "Blanc de Blanc" (Chardonnay) sparkling wine as well!  
Ankida wine is made by natural methods with the least amount of intervention. It is no surprise that Ankida Ridge Wine expresses the best that this lovey terroir has to offer.  My only complaint is that this wine is not available in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 
Barboursville (Winery Road, Barboursville, Virginia) 

                  Barboursville Winemaker Luis Paschina

                                         Barboursville Winery

Politician James Barbour (1775-1842) held many posts within the young United States including that of Virginia Governor. He encouraged and over saw the development of sustainable agriculture on the property. His friend, Thomas Jefferson, designed him a mansion which was built in 1814. The mansion tragically burned down on Christmas Day 1864 but its ruins, along with the Barbour family cemetery,  remains on the winery property.
In 1976, Italian Gianni Zonin of Veneto winery fame, purchased the property with the intent of founding a vineyard, The rest is history with Barboursville being recognized as an outstanding winery making fine wine such as a Bordeaux style(Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot), Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Barbara, Viognier, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio,  Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato Ottonel and Vidal. Winemaker Luis Paschina has been with the winery since 1990 and continues to produce superb wine that reflects the Zonin commitment to excellence!   
 Bodegas .
Bodegas Benegas (Mendoza)
                                                  Bodegas Benegas
                              Picking The Grapes
Outstanding quality of this winery goes back over 100 years and has its original cellars from 1901! The history of the Benegas family goes far further and included the signing of an 1820 independence peace treaty at its farm as well as having many of the family members involved in important political posts. Family patriarch Don Tiburico scoured wine regions for vine cuttings---giving many to any who wanted to grow vines. He founded El Trapiche winery in 1883 but sold it in 1970. 
Frederico Benegas Lynch was born in 1951 and after spending a number of years working in the El Trapiche vineyards and tasting wines with his father, came under the influence Trapiche winemaker Angel Mendoza. He then decided to make wines under the Benegas name.
He repurchased the family vineyard 'Finca Libertad", purchased a 19th century winery and added the Benegas name over all! Top wine consultant Michel Rolland and famed Napa winemaker Paul Hobbs were contracted. 
He enlisted the assistance of top French wine consultant Michel Rolland and Napa winemaker Paul Hobbs. The grapes are carefully cultivated and selected during Harvest.  Fermentation and Maceration are strictly controlled!
The wines from Benegas vineyards, Finca Libertad and Finca Incerrada,  are exceptional and highly rated by wine critics and in my opinion can only become highly in demand.
With vine ages from 70 to 128 years and from heights of 850 to 2800 metres the quality can only be very high. Presently the Malbec Single Vineyard is available in Ontario.
Portugal (Estremoz, Alentejo Wine Region)
Howard's Folly 

                     David Baverstock Winemaker 

                                Pedro Furriel Winemaker
A superb region for wine is the Alentejo Region of Portugal. Howard's Folly is new on the scene but has an outstanding winemaker who has carved a name for himself worldwide! Businessman Howard Bilton and esteemed winemaker David Baverstock, Australian who is noted for his avant-garde wines and many accolades from such people as the President of Portugal founded the above winery in 2002.
Bilton has a love for Portugal and its wine----especially the Alentejo Region. He became a driving force with the idea of creating a winery that exhibited not only the love of Alentejo wine but also as a contributor to the Art Community. Along with vineyard manager, Christina Francisquinho and winemaker Pedro Furriel, they are producing first rate wine that are being sought for all over the globe!
While I have not tasted Howard's Folly wine yet, top critics give the varietal and blended wines top marks. The likes of Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker have consistently give excellent scores to Folly wine!  
Vincola Suzin ( Sao Jaoquim, Santa Catarina)
                          Everson Suzin Winemaker/Owner
High up (1200 metres) in the little village, temperatures reach a daytime high of 28 degrees centigrade but fall to a low of 5 degrees during the night. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Montepulciano, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Rebo, Pinto Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are grown in small batches thus enabling differentiated treatment of each variety and a concentration on quality products. Using the latest ecological techniques eliminates the use of herbicides and vineyard defensives. The result is exceptional wine. My favourite has always been Suzin Pinot Noir which is cultivated with tender loving hands. 
Suzin products are not available in Canada at the moment.
Romania has come out of its "wine shell" and is making first rate wine capable of competing with the world's best. A new "guard" has taken over with the latest in vineyard management and wine making. Add to that Romania's deep historical significance in and superb scenery and you have a top winner. Top sommeliers like Zoltan Szabo and Ioana Madalina Danila assist up and coming winemakers in producing great wine! 
Crama Histria (Dobrogea)
               Paul Fulea Winemaker/Owner
Crema Histria enjoys sunny days, rich terroir and healing breezes all of which grow healthy grapes which make great wine. However, this is just part of the story since the making of fine wine depends also on the skill of the winemaker.
Paul Fulea produced his first wine in 2015 on land that was already under vine since 1976 but needed his alteration. He renamed his winery "Crama Histria" which now covers some 200 hectares.
The winery produces wine from both international and indigenous grapes such as the (White) Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat, Ottonel, Traminer, Fateaca Regela and (Red) Fateasca Neagra, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
His red 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon "Nikolaos" has already won international acclaim with a score of 94/100 points at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2021! 
(Agent is Maison Nobleza in Montreal)