Leslie Williams looks at some tops wines made by women.
International Women’s Day was two weeks ago and it rather crept up on me so I didn’t get to mention it. I’m making up for it this week with Mother’s Day at the weekend, and all my recommendations below are made by women.
Please note that this is certainly not tokenism on my part as when I went through my computer searching for women winemakers I had praised in the past I had dozens from which to choose.
Lily Bollinger is perhaps the most famous these days thanks to her tireless promotion of Bollinger and Champagne in general (Google her for some inspirational quotes).
But let’s not forget Madame Clicquot Ponsardin who found herself a widow (veuve) at age 27 and decided to take on her husband’s nascent wine business. As well as being a smart businesswoman she was an innovator and invented the process of riddling which removes the lees (dead yeast cells) allowing a clear wine, finer bubbles, and a significantly higher quality wine.
Other historic Champagne women include Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt who revived the then moribund house of Laurent Perrier and Louise Pommery who it is believed released the very first ‘Brut’ Champagne — Pommery’s ‘Cuvée Louise’ remains one of my very favourite Champagnes.
There are still prominent women in Champagne but sadly they are the exception. Floriane Eznack who did brilliant work as Chef de Cave at Jacquart Champagne stepped down last summer and spoke rather candidly to The Drinks Business about the sexism that pervades many cellars in Reims and Épernay.
Happily however, I feature Ayala and Duval-Leroy below, both excellent great value Champagnes that happen to be made by women.
If you are isolating yourself at the moment remember (as Gareth Keogh of www.WinesDirect.ie said to me), “humans can’t live on Netflix alone”.
Delivery website stockists are listed below and don’t forget www.wineonline.ie who have a particularly good Champagne section.
Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Chile — €13.95
Stockist: O’Briens Off-Licences nationwide, www.wine.ie
Viña Leyda were a pioneer in this valley near the Pacific where the Humboldt current and ocean breezes make this an ideal spot for Pinot Noir, Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Viviana Navarette makes the kind of Chilean Sauvignon I like, low on green bean aromas, citrus freshness and perfect apple and lime acidity. good Mother’s Day choice.
Mas Donis Negra, Montsant, Spain — €14.95
Stockists: Bradleys www.bradleys.ie, 1601 Kinsale, Cashel Wine Cellar, Vintry, Deveneys.
This is one of my favourite wines under €15. Winemaker Anna Rovira has coaxed lovely floral aromas out of her grapes — Garnacha (35%) and Tempranillo (30%) plus Syrah, Merlot and Cariñena — bright spicy cherry and plum aromas, generous and fruity with good length.
Guerinda Tres Partes Tinto, Navarra,Spain — €14.65
Stockists: Wines Direct Arnotts & Mullingar, www.winesdirect.ie
If you are isolating yourself don’t forget that Wines Direct deliver nationwide. I’m a fan of this estate up a rocky slope in Navarra run by two sisters (and a husband). Their Chardonnay has pristine floral and pear aromas and this entry level red is fruit focused and ripe with violets and spice notes on the nose and red fruits on the palate.
Ayala Brut Majeur Champagne NV,France — €49.99
Stockists: JJ O’Driscolls Cork, Mitchells IFSC & Sandycove
Ayala is a sister house to Bollinger and is Chardonnay focused (Bollinger is a Pinot house). Chef de Cave Caroline Latrive opts for a low dosage (7g) and focused elegance in her wines. Ayala’s NV is a gorgeous lithe Champagne at a great price with a floral, brioche nose, a fine persistent mousse and a silky supple palate. The Rosé is also recommended at €59.99.
Duval-Leroy Champagne Brut NV, France — €54Stockists:
Stocklists: Curious Wines Cork www.curiouswines.ie, Red Nose Wines Clonmel www.rednosewine.com
This independent House is keeping up the grand tradition of women calling the shots in Champagne.
The NV is mainly Pinot Noir (plus Chardonnay), and has fine bright ripe fruit aromas mixed in with the brioche and citrus elements. Herbal and citrus notes and a fine elegant mousse.
Rós Rosé, Navarra, Spain — €16.95
This is an excellent rosé for cooler weather — Provençal Rosé just seems a little light-weight at this time of year. Made by O’Brien’s Wine Director and resident Master of Wine, Lynne Coyle, with Alicia Eyaralar of Bodegas Tandem in Navarra. Made from wild ferment Garnacha with distinct strawberry aromas, ripe red fruits on the palate and a dry but fruit focused finish.