Five Winemakers to Watch
New winemakers’ names often bob up in the sea of wine journalism, only to vanish under the surface after a vintage or two. But some names have a buoyancy—anchored to talent—that few others can match. Here are five up-and-coming winemaking stars, who have proven their staying power with several vintages of terrific wines but haven’t yet risen to the fame they deserve (and whose wines, as a result, can still be found in stores).
Ben Glaetzer: Barossa Valley, Australia
On first impression, Ben Glaetzer is as imposing as the brawny, powerful Australian Shirazes he’s known for—but after a few minutes of conversation, this tall, shaven-headed winemaker turns out to be an eloquent and easygoing representative of the newest generation of Australian winemaking stars. From his base at Glaetzer Wines (founded by his father in 1995) he oversees the family’s production; he also makes superb, affordable bottlings for Heartland Wines and top-quality, higher-end reds for Mitolo.
Wine to try: 2005 Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz ($45)
Sashi Moorman: Santa Barbara County, California
Sashi Moorman wound a trail through New York state, first at Vassar College and then as a chef in Manhattan, before moving on to California and a five-year stint as assistant winemaker at the Ojai Vineyard. These days, he operates out of a warehouse park in the Central Coast city of Lompoc, serving as winemaker for a wide range of small, highly acclaimed labels. Some of them Moorman co-owns, such as Piedrasassi and Holus-Bolus; some he simply works for, such as Stolpman Vineyards; and some aren’t even on the market yet, such as Evening Land Vineyards (which will be available sometime in 2008). But all are marked by precise, deep flavors and perfectly balanced structures.
Wine to try: 2005 Stolpman Vineyards Estate Syrah ($28)
Stéphane Derenoncourt: Bordeaux, France
Stéphane Derenoncourt has been referred to as “the new Michel Rolland,” and his portfolio of top-drawer clients—though not necessarily his winemaking sensibility—certainly makes the comparison apt. Rolland is arguably the wine world’s most famous winemaking consultant. Derenoncourt—who makes compelling, terroir-driven wines for such esteemed properties as Château Canon-la-Gaffelière, Château Smith Haut Lafitte, and La Mondotte—isn’t as famous yet, but he deserves to be.
Wine to try: 2004 Château Clos Fourtet ($60)
Gregory Perez: Bierzo, Spain
Though only in his late 20s, Gregory Perez has already made a substantial name for himself in Spain’s up-and-coming Bierzo region with the dense, dark red wines he makes at Bodegas Luna Beberide. That shouldn’t be a surprise: After studying in Bordeaux, Perez spent two years helping make wine at the legendary Château Cos d’Estournel before moving to Spain. When not crafting Luna Beberide’s wines, he has lately been involved in making one of Bierzo’s most impressive reds, Paixar, a joint effort with the similarly young winemaking brothers Eduardo and Alberto Garcia.
Wine to try: 2004 Paixar ($110)
Luca D’Attoma: Tuscany, Italy
Consulting winemaker (and rugby fanatic) Luca D’Attoma is known for his intensity and directness. But even the wineries with whom he’s parted company, such as the renowned Tuscan producer Tua Rita, would have to admit that the wines he made for them were stunning evocations of the vineyards they came from. In the end, D’Attoma is as tough with himself as he is with winery owners, and his long-term clients, such as the cult Tuscan producer Le Macchiole, seem to win awards and stellar point scores year after year.
Wine to try: 2003 Le Macchiole Paleo Rosso ($100)