The new classification for Saint-Émilion was announced on Friday September 7th by the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine). There were four wines promoted to the top level — Premier Grand Cru Classé – three of which are made by Stéphane Derenoncourt: Château Larcis Ducasse, Château Canon la Gaffelière and La Mondotte. As a result of this re-classification, Stéphane is responsible for seven out of the eighteen Premier Grand Cru Classé wines. This impressive achievement underscores why many – including we at Montesquieu Wines – believe that no one knows the Right Bank quite like Stéphane.
One of Stéphane’s most famous wines, La Mondotte, skipped the Grand Cru Classé category entirely, jumping from AOC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru to Premier Grand Cru Classé, which is a rare feat. For those familiar with the famous garagiste wines such as La Mondotte and Valandraud (also promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé), these promotions were well-deserved and not entirely unexpected. La Mondotte has been considered among the greatest Bordeaux chateaux for years, a collector’s gem and fetching prices that one would expect from the top level. View Full Post
Anyone who knows much about winemaking knows that the romantic stereotype of life in the vines is just that – a stereotype. Winemaking can be romantic, of course; but it can also be risky and fraught with uncertainty. After all, Mother Nature has a long history of being a fickle master.
Consider Pierre Bernault, owner of an ancient chateau and plot of vines in Montagne Saint Emilion where he and Stéphane Derenoncourt craft Montesquieu Winery’s Moulin du Paradis blend: “You can lose an entire year’s income by surprise in the course of three weeks because of weather,” says Pierre. “But I like to take risks.” View Full Post
Just before the release of our groundbreaking 2010 Montesquieu Juntarse at the end of October, we had the pleasure to reconnect and share a great meal and wines with Thierry Haberer, winemaker for the renowned Michel Rolland. Thierry oversees wine production for the international Rolland Collection including the Mariflor wines from the Uco Valley, which we represent exclusively here in the U.S.
Thierry is also an integral part of our collaboration with Michel in our new project together, a series of co-branded wines from Mendoza’s Uco Valley crafted especially for our Montesquieu clients. The Juntarse– a maverick blend of Cabernet, Syrah and Malbec from some of Michel’s top vines – is our first release from this venture. Throughout the process, Michel and Thierry worked closely with our team to create a wine of exceptional quality and singular character. View Full Post
There are few names in our industry that carry as much respect as that of Stéphane Derenoncourt and with good reason—with almost 30 years experience from literally the ground up, he is one of the great growers and winemakers of our time. Although he is modest and soft-spoken and consequently does not seek media attention, the wine world cannot help but take notice of his achievements in the vineyard and in the cellar.
At the heart of all this success is a genuine and passionate person, driven by his goal always “to make wines I love; elegant, balanced, respectful of the fruit.” The wines Stéphane loves are terroir-driven showing typicity specific to their place of growth. Stéphane strives for the ideal balance between the land and the wine which assures harmonious development of the vine and its capacity to mature the healthiest possible fruit. View Full Post
During En Primeurs this April in Bordeaux we had the pleasure of attending the exclusivepreview of Stéphane’s new wine shop in Saint-Émilion, aptly named “ Terres Millésimées”. Terres means land, which can also mean terroir, and Millésimées means vintage or year. He had been wanting to do this for years, an idea that grew out of constantly being asked by friends, colleagues and fellow wine lovers how to find the wines of his eclectic consultancies, as well as other wines he loves and recommends.
As inspired projects go, ones that involve great passion, Terres Millésimées grew into an ambition to be more than a wine shop, a place where wine lovers can gather, both locals and tourists alike, to experience selections from “d’ici et d’ailleurs”—meaning “from here and elsewhere”—wines “des terroirs et des hommes” or “wines of the land and of man”. View Full Post
Montesquieu wine broker Jonathan Hetz with Livia Fontana, happy among the vines!
One of the most rewarding aspects of working directly with small producers to source the very best wines for our clients is the privilege of getting to know the winemakers, the talent and conduits of inspiration behind great wines. One of our favorites of all time is Livia Fontana—who we have worked with since 1997—a sixth generation winemaker and matriarch of the 180 year-old Cascina Fontanin in the heart of Barolo country.
Picture yourself perched high on a majestic hillside, overlooking lush steep vineyards to the point where the ancient villages of Barolo, La Morra and Monforte meet below. It is here, atop the famous tiny commune (population 637) of Castiglione Falletto, that Livia and her two sons Michele and Lorenzo tend to every detail of making wines at the family’s estate —from working in the vineyard to bottling and labeling and everything in between! View Full Post
Intimate Asado Dinner with Federico Benegas-Lynch & Don Zofanor
History. Tradition. Family. You’ve probably noticed that these words get thrown around a lot in the wine industry. These days, everyone seems to be claiming that they’re family-owned and family-run, that they are tapping into a tradition as old as the sun, that they use historical vineyard techniques or winemaking methods or what have you.
It’s easy to tune out this sort of rhetoric as marketing-based background noise. And as merchants who are barraged by wineries who want us to introduce them to our clients, we at Montesquieu Wines know how critical it is to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. To truly determine whether there’s real history and tradition in play, and whether it matters to the quality of the wine, we have to do more than just scratch the surface. We have to dig deeper, to pull back the veil to see whether these buzz words reflect something real and unique, or whether they’re merely a marketer’s fancy. View Full Post
Spend a little time in the Uco Valley in Argentina, and it doesn’t take long to realize that not only is Michel Rolland one of the most accomplished winemakers of our time – he’s also a true visionary.
That’s a bold statement, perhaps. But once you’ve seen Bodega Rolland firsthand, situated at an elevation of 3,300 feet in the shadow of the snowcaps of the Andes, the conclusion is inescapable. The proof of Michel’s vision is everywhere you look.
You see it in the in the vineyard’s rocky, arid soils where the vines’ roots burrow deeply in desperate search for nutrients. You see it in the rugged, barren terrain that surrounds the vineyards as in every direction, offering no evidence of life beyond the occasional desert flower. View Full Post
For almost 30 years Executive Wine Seminars, or EWS, has been organizing dream wine tastings featuring some of the most highly regarded wines in the world. EWS is one of the most respected tasting venues in the US, held in New York’s Tribeca, catering to elite private and corporate executives including ABC News & Sports, Lehman Brothers, American Express, Union Bank of Switzerland, Sumimoto Corporation of America, Goldman Sachs, and Merck Pharmaceuticals to name just a few.
It is not uncommon for celebrity vintners to fly in from Europe or California to discuss their wines and answer questions. Montesquieu is pleased to announce that Stéphane Derenoncourt will be doing just that for the next EWS tasting March 1, 2011. Given the line-up of wines, it will be a spectacular evening. View Full Post
Following a huge wave of accolades for the Derenoncourt California wines, the Wine Spectator profiled Stéphane Derenoncourt recently calling him the “world’s hottest winemaker”. The article relays what our CEO and President Fonda Hopkins realized years ago—that Stéphane is one of our industry’s very best, with uncompromising standards for vineyard management and winemaking—wielding a huge array of talents, tools and experiences developed by working the soil and traveling the world. He is a master winemaker, a craftsman who truly listens to the grapes and soil, enabling each wine to embody soulful expression—what we like to call the “spirit of wine” or terroir.
Born the son of a steel worker in Northern France, Stéphane comes from humble origins. In 1982 at the age of nineteen, he hitchhiked to Bordeaux (we understand there was a girl involved) and took a job as a vineyard worker in Fronsac. It was there that Stéphane immersed himself for ten years: living and working in the vineyards of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, becoming intimately familiar with the life of the vine and each plot of land’s ability to imprint its unique characteristics on its grapes.
Stéphane’s big break came in the early 1990s at Saint-Émilion’s Chateau Pavie Macquin. Despite the difficult 1993 vintage, Stéphane made a highly regarded wine which immediately drew attention to his skill. Soon thereafter he was hired as winemaker for La Mondotte, a new micro-cuvée from a small limestone plot near Pavie Macquin. His first vintage at La Mondotte was the 1996 which received unprecedented acclaim from critics and consumers alike. As a result, La Mondotte quickly became one of the most collectible Bordeaux on the market.
In 1996 he met his talented wife Christine at Pavie Macquin, and together they started Vignerons Consultants in 1999. Today the firm consults more than 60 wineries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Many are in Bordeaux, but also include the Rhone, Loire, Ribera del Duero, Toro, Tuscany, Austria, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Bangalore and the United States.
In early 2006 after meeting Fonda in Bordeaux, Stéphane joined the Montesquieu team. In addition to tasting and screening many of the wines that we source for our clients, Stéphane has leveraged his vast connections in the world of wine to open the door for us to work with even more growers and producers of the highest caliber. In addition to the critically acclaimed Derenoncourt California wines in partnership with Montesquieu, Stéphane also crafts small-batch wines exclusively for Montesquieu clients in conjunction with our talented Hélène Mingot.
Stéphane Derenoncourt and Hélène Mingot
Our partnership with Stéphane aligns perfectly with Montesquieu’s philosophy of providing our clients with the experience of discovering, drinking and appreciating intriguing, delicious wine. And it’s our embrace of the spirit of wine and winemaking—and our passion for the art of living—that is at the heart of our relationship.
An old Turkish proverb says, “No road is long with good company”. We are no doubt in good company, and look forward to keeping you informed of our wine adventures together here on our blog. Cheers!
If you are interested in an exclusive event where you will meet Stéphane and experience a preview of the highly anticipated 2007 Derenoncourt California wines in Las Vegas read more here.
To add your name to the mailing list for an opportunity to purchase Derenoncourt California limited allotments visit here.
At Montesquieu, we bring you the finest hand-crafted wines from the best boutique vineyards in the world. We believe that winemaking is an art. Through every wine we source for our clients, we celebrate the diversity, character and tradition encompassed within each bottle - the true spirit of wine.