The Justerini & Brooks team doesn’t need a special occasion to celebrate the talent and craftsmanship of women winemakers. The skill of the most accomplished female vignerons is always celebrated in the place their wines have firmly carved in the company’s portfolio. Yet, the upcoming International Women’s Day serves as a perfect pretext to bring their names to the forefront and rediscover their wines. Indeed, exploring and enjoying the product of their labour is the best possible tribute one can pay to each of these talented winemakers.
Women have historically played central roles in some of the world’s most iconic estates and continue to do so, both as faithful guardians of historical legacies and forward-thinking innovators. The nine wines below are testament to that.
Celebrating nine women winemakers and their exquisite wines
Jolandie Fouché, Wolf & Woman, Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa 2020
This wine’s name is inspired by a line from poet Clarissa Pinkola Estés: “Some days I am more wolf than woman, and I am still learning how to stop apologising for my wild.” Jolandie is equally unapologetic about her ambitious, low-intervention winemaking approach, delivering wines with a distinct ‘Swartland identity’. This Chenin Blanc hails from a combination of fruit from granite and iron-based soils, balancing freshness and aromatics. Fermented naturally and aged for 11 months in neutral casks, after which it was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Fine, expressive, robust yet chiselled – Chenin Blanc at its best. Alc 13%
Gloria Eichinger, Birgit Eichinger, Riesling Heiligenstein,Kamptal, Germany 2019
A matriarchal estate Justerini & Brooks has worked with for the last two and a half years, and is now led by Gloria, Birgit’s daughter. Mark Dearing, buyer for Austria, describes their winemaking style as “precise and modern, seeking purity and freshness through almost exclusive use of temperature controlled stainless steel for fermentation and ageing.” The wines have the same quiet, unassuming elegance of Gloria herself.
This wine, hailing from one of Austria’s great Riesling sites, is a perfect showcase of the structure, complexity and age worthiness Gloria achieves through careful fruit selection and gentle winemaking. Heiligenstein’s volcanic red sandstone, comes through in rich aromas of lime, papaya and peaches, supported by an elegant mineral backbone. Full-bodied yet so light on its feet. Alc 13%
Cathy Faller, Domaine Weinbach, Cuvée Théo Riesling, Haut-Rhin, Germany 2018
Effortless elegance is the best way to describe Domaine Weinbach’s wines. Cathy Faller has been at the helm of the estate since her father passed away in 1979, having led its transition to organic and remaining faithful to use estate-grown fruit only. Now with sons Theo and Eddy at her side, Cathy has consolidated the house’s style, both in Germany and Alsace, where Weinbach has extensive vineyards in one of Alsace’s original Grand Crus, Schlossberg in Kaysersberg.
This wine, named after Théo, is charming and expressive. Rich notes of mango, peach, pineapple and lemon curd and enlivened by fresh salinity and elegant mineral backbone. Deliciously moreish. Alc 13%
Clémence Dubrulle, Domaine de la Folie, Clos Folie, Rully, Burgundy 2018
Finding value in Burgundy might seem an impossible quest but that’s exactly what the wines of Domaine de la Folie deliver. They show the potential of some of Burgundy’s lesser-known appellations and that it pays off to go off the beaten track. The fact that these wines are available today is an achievement in itself; Clémence effectively rescued the estate from ruin and quickly established its reputation as one of the most exciting labels in Rully.“By applying dedicated viticulture and hands-off but attentive winemaking, Clémence has given us amazing value wines that are full to the brim with character,” sums up Giles Burke-Gaffney, Buying Director at Justerini & Brooks.
Such is the case with this Rully Blanc 2018, hailing from a north and north-east clay limestone monopole vineyard planted to 40-year-old vines, fermented and aged in steel tanks. Fleshy ripe citrus fruit is lifted by a delicious saltiness. The textural richness is balanced by great freshness and clarity. Alc 13.5%
Katharina Prüm, JJ Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spätlese, Wehlen, Germany 2018
£50 (Magnum – 1.5L)
A talented and sensitive guardian of her aristocratic legacy, Katharina Prüm has brought her family’s estate firmly to the 21st century while remaining true to the house’s trademark elegance and refinement.
This Spätlese shows this same balance and poise. Fleshy yellow peach, zesty grapefruit and sweet tangerines, come together for a profile that is at once pithy, generous and precise. Ripe but also deftly mineral, with a slate backbone made robust by the succulence and subtle sweetness of these fruits. Alc 8.5%
Caitlin Brown, Mountadam Shiraz, Eden Valley, Australia 2018
Founded by David Wynn in the late 1960s, Mountadam was purchased by the Browns in 2005 and has been in the Justerini & Brooks stable for 15 years. Wynn was one of the first to recognise the potential of cool, elevated site to produce wines of great elegance and balance. Sitting at 550m above sea level in the Eden Valley, Mountadam remains the highest estate in South Australia, with harvest often taking place a full month later than in the lower Eden and Barossa Valleys. This viticultural treasure is now in the hands of Caitlin Brown, who has consolidated a tradition of fresh, detailed wines. By experimenting with new techniques in the vineyard and cellar she is raising the bar even further.
Nadia Sadie, David & Nadia Sadie, Grenache, Swartland, South Africa 2018
At the heart of Justerini & Brooks’ South African portfolio, David & Nadia Sadie have built an international cult in recent years. Their quest has been to nurture and restore low yielding old vineyards in an effort to breathe new life into Swartland’s enviable stock of old vines. Nadia’s knowledge as a soil scientist has been instrumental, guiding the understanding of soil nutrition, vineyard management and water retention in an arid climate.
Grenache has become their calling card and this 2018 iteration does not disappoint, with gentle, well-defined red fruit, firm yet refined tannins and a trademark minerality. This trait, reminiscent of the decomposed granite soils of Paardeberg, imparts the freshness and drinkability that make this wine so approachable and enjoyable. Alc 13%
Sara Perez, Mas Martinet, Clos Martinet, Priorat, Spain 2018
The second generation of one of the five families that pioneered the creation of the Priorat DO in 1989, Sara Perez has embraced this privileged responsibility with passion and infectious energy. Her knowledge and drive are taking the family estate already iconic in its women right, to even greater heights. “When Sara talks about her wines, you listen,” says Mark Dearing. “She manages to explain terroir in ways that are abstract yet wholly understandable. She’s quite mesmerising.” As is this Clos Martinet a Garnacha-based blend, with Carignan, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon – an intense celebration of both the local traditions and of the introduction of international varieties that infused new energy (and investment) in the region. Alc 14.5%
Elisa & Enrica Scavino, Paolo Scavino, Barolo, Italy 2015
Certainly not an easy task to take the helm of one of Barolo’s finest estates, as sisters Enrica and Elisa have done. They have embarked on a mission to take the best of the tradition they inherited and apply it to a modern way. This has led them to research winemaking practices in other flagship regions, namely Burgundy and Bordeaux, and introduce healthier, greener vineyard practices. The elegance and longevity of the wines remain their priorities.
This being a good example – a beautifully balanced Barolo, with a strong but fine texture and filigreed aromatic profile. Crisp red fruit and hints of tea-leaf entwined with the sweet strawberry fruit and woody spice notes. A true ‘mediation’ wine that demands time and attention; a little reticent when opened, it opens gradually to reveal its full splendour. Alc 14%
Justerini & Brooks, established in 1749, is well-known for its unrivalled portfolio from some of the world’s greatest Châteaux, estates and domaines. The fine wine merchant is also committed to unearthing and championing young, new talent, as well as offering its customers an extensive range of immediate drinking wines.