Meet the women taking the lead in the wine world

Clockwise from top left: Louisa Rose, Yalumba; Paola Medina, Williams & Humbert; Cristina and María Amézola, Bodegas Amézola de la Mora; Cherie Spriggs, Nyetimber; Juliette Monmousseau, Bouvet-Ladubay

Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, SO Drinks Editor James Viner picks five of his favourite wines made by influential, trailblazing women in the wine world…

1. 2022 Yalumba Y Series Viognier, Australia (£8.75, Tesco)

In the 1960s, the heady, floral, lowish-acid white grape variety Viognier (pronounced ‘vee-yon-yay’) was almost extinct. However, Georges Vernay, the famous (late) grower from Condrieu in France’s northern Rhône, played a significant role in saving this fragrant now-fashionable variety. South Australia’s family-owned Yalumba is a founding member of Australia’s ‘First Families of Wine’ and a Viognier specialist. Here celebrated Chief Winemaker, Louisa Rose crafts Australia’s finest monovarietal Viogniers. This full-bodied, fresh, juicy, entry-level example has subtle notes of orange blossom, honeysuckle, apricot, orange peel and gentle spice. One for mild creamy curries, coronation chicken, white fish in a creamy sauce or chicken tagine with preserved lemons and green olives. Cheers to Louisa, Oz’s talented Viognier queen. Wild-fermented and vegan-approved. Alc 13.5%

2.  Williams & Humbert Manzanilla Alegría Superior Sherry NV, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Andalusia, Spain (£9.50, The Wine Society, 75cl)

Looking for a light sherry in a 75cl bottle with energising flavours and an X-factor? Read on. Seville-born Paola Medina is the Technical Director and winemaker of Williams & Humbert, the historic bodega owned by the Medina family. This manzanilla – a bone dry, lightly fortified fino sherry aged in the tiny seaside town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the northwest of Cádiz province in Spain – is a mouth-watering, pungent, super-refreshing, delicate wine with palate-whetting notes of iodine, bread dough, green olives, and toasted nuts, plus a little orange peel and hay. It’s a massively under-priced (you get 75cl at The Wine Society), perfumed, briny wine to sip with shellfish, smoked salmon and fish soups. Makes a lasting impression – and is quite incredibly inexpensive. Aged biologically under a thick film of benevolent flor yeasts for around six years. Alc 15%

3.  Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Crémant De Loire NV, France (Save £1 to £10.50, from £11.50, until March 12, Sainsbury’s)

Nab this keenly-priced, cracking Crémant (made by the painstaking traditional method) de Loire, 85 per cent Chenin Blanc and 15 per cent Chardonnay, with masses of tangy, lemon meringue pie and crunchy, lip-smacking apple tones. What a bargain even without the discount (£1 off until March 12).
It’s also superb when jazzed up with a splodge of Crème de Cassis de Dijon – Sainsbury’s has a brilliant one at £9.99, for 35cl – to make a Kir Royal, or just add fresh orange juice for a brilliant buck’s fizz. Made by Juliette Monmousseau, CEO at Bouvet-Ladubay, one of the Loire’s oldest sparkling wine producers. Their wine quality is unfailingly excellent. Snap it up on the deal. Alc 12.5%

4.  2019 Berry Bros. & Rudd Rioja by Bodegas Amézola de la Mora, Spain (£15, Berry Bros & Rudd)

Accomplished winemaking sisters Cristina and María Amézola, the fifth generation of this celebrated family-owned Rioja winery – who became Spain’s youngest winemakers in 1999  – have once again shaped a polished own-label red Rioja Crianza (aged for at least a year in oak) for the renowned London wine merchant, Berry Bros & Rudd. With low levels of tannins, plus a sapid core of fresh raspberry and black cherry fruit alongside emerging savoury leather and mocha tones, it’s just the ticket for roast lamb. Lovely drinking, impressive from first to last sip. Classy stuff. One glass very rapidly becomes two. Alc 14%

5.  Nyetimber, Classic Cuvée NV Brut, England (save £5 to £16.99, from £21.99, 28 February to 19 March, Waitrose, 37.5cl)

This classy, signature English sparkling wine contains a blend of mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, topped up with around 10 per cent Pinot Meunier. The fruit is sourced from West Sussex and Hampshire. Made by Nyetimber’s experienced Canadian-born and raised head winemaker, Cherie Spriggs, it has a toasty bouquet, lively acidity and enticing almond, pastry, baked apple and citrusy flavours. Brisk acidity propels this classy discounted half bottle to a Formula 1 finish. Sushi, poultry or scallops anyone? Perfect size for picnics and toasting International Women’s Day.

Cherie won the 2018 International Wine Challenge Sparkling Winemaker of the Year, the first time someone outside the Champagne wine region won it. Get in while the going is good on this half-bottle Waitrose offer! It’s a delectable experience. Alc 12%

Follow James on Instagram @QuixoticWines

#IWD2024  #InspireInclusion

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