A Drink From The Porron

A Letter from André – 2020

El Equipo De Maison at El Maestro Sierra during the Running of the Scales event

- 2019 was an amazing year for our company -

When I first thought of the idea of creating a portfolio show in the south of Spain in January of 2018, I had no idea how transformative an event this would be, nor how much work it would take to pull it off!

The event our team created, Running of the Scales, in Sanlúcar de Barrameda was unlike any trade show ever. When I asked attendees what had struck them the most about the event, it was the opportunity that was created for meeting new people, for rekindling relations and reconnecting with their own team members. Broad discussions occurred across different segments of our industry. Attendees experienced a space to think, interact, and exchange ideas.

For us, it was a way to thank all of our partners who have supported us throughout the years. It also created a new way to showcase our existing suppliers and launch new products at an event set in a place of great historical importance to our industry. Lastly, it was about the incredible wines of Sherry Country!

As we turn to 2020, we are incredibly excited about this new decade. While this year will be full of new challenges, I remain optimistic about our organization, our partners, and our suppliers. In these trying times, all of the families we work with have stepped up to support us. This is certainly due to the sense that they feel the inclusiveness of our project, and all of the support that you have given them through the years is not lost on them.

Because of this, we are pushing forward with new ideas on multiple fronts and not allowing ourselves to be deterred by circumstances. We are launching into the new decade with several new projects from France and Spain.

Spain - The New Pantheon

Many of you know how diligently we have worked to place Spain in the pantheon of the great viticultural regions of the world. Today we are convinced that Spain has arrived at this moment where the wines of this diverse country have reclaimed their rightful place among the greatest wines of the world. In continued support of this concept, this year we are exploring the Balearic Islands and, in particular, the island of Mallorca. With its diverse landscape and library of unique indigenous varieties, we have focused on two major denominations in Mallorca.

Tomeu Llabre of Ca'n Verdura

We are fortunate today to present two amazing family estates: Ca’n Verdura and Mesquida Mora. Both of these growers represent the ideals of great work in their vineyards by highlighting long-forgotten varieties, creating some of the most ground-breaking wines of the Balearic region. Self-described as viticultura en miniatura, Tomeu Llabres’ (shown above) work with the ancient Mantonegro grape in the Binissalem denomination demonstrates this variety has incredible potential, as he is a rising star on the Spanish wine scene.

Meanwhile, Bàrbara Mesquida-Mora was the first Demeter-certified biodynamic producer in the Balearics. She is the most energetic, dynamic personality on the island, diligently farming biodynamic Premsal and Callet grapes in the Plà i Llevant denomination. What connects both of these growers is the honesty of their work to highlight their unique landscape and respective grapes. Mallorca wines are nuanced Mediterranean wines, dynamic and unique in their culture and presentation.

France - Hidden in Plain Sight

In France, a new generation of dynamic, young farmers is coming to the forefront and transforming the landscape. It is exciting to see much of this transformation being led by women. We have been following these developments, as the daughters of historic properties are taking the lead in family projects, while others are creating entirely new projects from the ground up, with a fresh vision. One by one, they are adding their voice to storied terroirs throughout France, and as a result, the wine scene has never been so exciting and energetic. This year, we are proud to introduce several new properties run by women to our program.

Anäis Vallot of Domaine Vallot

While traveling through Sancerre, we ran into an incredible discovery. Here the Patrick Noël family has been steadfastly farming some of the most prized plots in Saint-Satur (where their cellar is buried in the hillside), Sancerre, Chavignol, Menetou-Salon, and Pouilly-Fumé. Julie Noël, the current generation, has implemented the certification of their plots through a new ecological farming certification program in France known as Haute Valeur Environmental (HVE). HVE is an approach that highlights an idea that we have been talking about for several years, of ecology and balance of the vineyards with the surrounding ecosystems. They have never exported, as they have maintained an incredibly passionate following in France, where the wines are consistently allocated and sold out. We are incredibly excited to see how Julie has been transforming their incredible holdings (80% are in Chavignol) through the use of indigenous yeast, ecological farming and minimal intervention in the cellar.

We have always been obsessed with the Rhône, both north and south. This year we finalized some amazing discoveries we have been developing. In Côte-Rôtie, we found a brand new venture on a tiny, vertiginous 1.5ha site in the Côte Brune. This site had long been unplanted due to the extremity of the slope and difficulty of cultivation in the northernmost part of the appellation. This beautiful hillside, in the lieu-dit of Cumelle, is owned by a local family with deep roots in the region and was replanted a few years ago with a mix of diverse old clones. With the help of many famous family friends, including Yves Culleron, this historic vineyard has finally seen the light of day, and we are excited to introduce Domaine de Cumelle this year.

In the Southern Rhône, we are exploring a new-ish appellation that deserves more attention: Vinsobres. This is one of the highest altitude sites in the southern sector, located at the beginning of the foothills of the Alps. The wine produced here could not be further from the overworked style of their more famous neighbors. Farmed by a family who invested early on in biodynamic farming, being Demeter certified since 2007, they are proving that there is a lot to rediscover in the southern Rhône. The Vallot family, headed by the formidable Anaïs (shown above), will be influential in defining a new viticultural region and fresh perspective in the Southern Rhône. Throw preconceptions out the window.

To highlight and celebrate the amazing contribution of women to our portfolio, we are putting together a large US tour of vigneronnes in March. They will be touring the US for two weeks, including a stop in Austin, Texas, to be a part of the Wonder Women of Wine festival, which is a non-profit organization advocating gender equality in the wine industry. Their efforts are achieved through solution-based discussions, networking, and scholarship opportunities. We are thrilled for our producers to be involved in this, and other events and discussions around the US during their tour.

This short preview is only a part of what is new and exciting to us. We have many other new projects that will also be rolling out to kick off this new decade.

We want to take this opportunity to thank all of the restaurants, bars, retailers, and distributors who support this vision and contribute to the positive evolution of the wine business. I would also like to give a shout out to all the #smallbusinessheroes who make our country amazing.

Let’s embrace the challenges ahead and create opportunities where we might not think possible.

Thanks again to all of you!