Walden Selections is excited to partner with Zev Rovine Selections, a boutique wine & spirits import and distribution company based in Brooklyn, NY. Zev Rovine Selections represents characterful wines made with minimal intervention from classic wine regions. While the winemakers represented each have a different set of philosophies, they all share the idea that great wines are made in the vineyard.
Hervé Ravera is an excellent example of what has been described as a second career winemaker. Before he was a vigneron in the Beaujolais, he spent several years as a nurse, but he had always been drawn to nature and farming. In 2007, his interest outside of his job became more of a concern. He left the nursing profession and bought an old house surrounded by 5 acres of old Gamay vines in the tiny village of Marchampt in the Beaujolais. Hervé works with biodynamics and plows his steep slopes with the help of his horse (hilariously named “Reggae Nights”). The grapes are harvested with the help of friends and family and fermented whole cluster in concrete without any additives and then pressed via a massive, 100 year old press in the winery that‘s attached to the house.
Domaine Dubost is a 4th generation domaine, which has been in the hands of Jean-Paul Dubost since the mid-1990s. They farm about 52 acres. Twenty-two are from the village appellation and the rest is split between Brouilly, Moulin à Vent, Morgon, Fleurie, and a little Regnié. He has been transitioning his vineyards to biodynamics since 2005 and ferments all of the wines with natural yeasts. The crus are made without sulfur or other additions. Jean-Paul is currently training his two young sons, Jeoffrey and Corentin, about natural wine and hopes that one day they will take over the family estate.
Côte de Beaune
Jean-Marie grew up in the countryside of the Savoie, but a career in advertising brought him to Paris where he worked for several years. In 1999, he decided to leave the city behind and pursue a degree in oenology at a university in Beaune. After graduation, he began working for other winemakers and was fortunate enough to eventually acquire nearly 4 acres of vines on clay soil at the base of Puligny-Montrachet. He built a home in Meursault and began construction on his winery. Inspired by his childhood in the Savoie (his uncle was an organic farmer) and by the other young winemakers he met, Jean-Marie was compelled to make wine without any intervention in the vineyard or cellar. His friends were happy to offer guidance in working naturally and Jean-Marie proved to be a quick learner. His first vintage was released in 2004 and named “Petit Tetu” (a little stubborn) after himself. While this is true, he is also one of the friendliest and most hilarious winemakers you will encounter.
Coteaux du Languedoc
In 2007, Benjamin Taillandier settled in his family's hometown of Caunes-Minervois, which sits between the ancient city of Carcassonne and the Montagne Noir. He purchased 14 acres of Grenache Noir, Syrah, Cinsault, and Terret Gris and began working it organically, eventually converting all of it over to biodynamics. Each year he adds parcels and is up to 23 acres, all of which is harvested by hand and certified organic by Ecocert. He also runs a terrific wine bar downtown called Cantine du Curé which is open during the summer tourist season. Benjamin feels that many of the Languedoc wines are too heavy, therefore he makes wines in the "vin de soif" style (thirst-quenchers).
Anne Paillet spent years working for a large industrial company in La Defense (financial district of Paris) when a serious car accident made her realize that corporate life was not for her. Seeking a new reality, she left her job in 2010 to join her husband, Gregory Leclerc, a natural winemaker in the Loire. Always up for a challenge, Anne wanted to make different wines than her husband, with different grapes on a different terroir. She also realized that she needed her own vines for the style of wine that she felt inspired to make. Anne’s friend Christophe Beau, a biodynamic producer in Coteaux du Languedoc, offered her a partnership on his 15 acre estate, renting her 6 acres of his land. In 2011 Autour de l’Anne was created, with the help of Christophe and his son Victor. The vineyard and winery are located in Corconne, in the north part of the Herault valley in the Languedoc. Anne hand-harvests the grapes and fermentation occurs naturally with wild yeasts in concrete tank without any SO2. The particularity of the estate is that at the end of fermentation, Anne takes the wine to the Loire to finish aging at Gregory’s winery. The style of her wines tends to be more similar to wines from the Loire Valley than the Languedoc. She avoids heaviness and high alcohol levels, preferring lighter, yet expressive wines.
Sébastien Riffault’s wines are brazenly atypical, yet they also perfectly communicate the essence of Sancerre. The vineyard is covered in an array of flowers and grasses to increase biodiversity and encourage helpful insects. He uses a horse to plow for more precise and gentle tilling, which also increases the vitality of the soil. Absolutely no fertilizers or chemicals are used. He is a member of L'Association des Vins Naturels (AVN) and La Renaissance des Appellations. Riffault takes the natural approach to winemaking and leaves his grapes on the vine later than most in the region in order to get them completely ripe rather than resort to adding sugar, common practice in Sancerre.
Jean-Pierre first discovered his love of wine with a bottle of Cheval Blanc 1964 when he was 22 years old. From that moment on, he became incredibly passionate, even obsessive about wine. In the late 1980s, Jean-Pierre met Jules Chauvet and Marcel Lapierre. which offered him a moment of wine revelation. Soon after, he opened L'Ange Vin, which became one of Paris’ first natural wine bars. He then went on to create the magazine “Le Rouge et le Blanc” with critic Michel Bettane in his early 30’s. “Le Rouge et Blanc” has become an internationally renowned, "bible" of information on natural wine growers in France. After 12 years of running the wine bar and the magazine, Jean-Pierre decided that the only way to truly understand natural wine was to begin making it himself. In 2001, he started his own winery in Chahaignes, his native village in the Loire. He quickly began to acquire plots of land surrounding his home and planting vines of Pineau d'Aunis, Chenin Blanc and Gamay. Fermentation is a major focus and curiosity for Robinot, resulting in five different caves each holding wine in unique stages of the process. The labels are frequently his or his daughter's paintings or manipulated photographs, and are always identifiable as Robinot. He makes two different categories of wines, both of which are made without sulfur or any other interventions. Domaine de L'Ange Vin wines are made from grapes grown in his own vineyards, and Opera du Vin wines that are made from the grapes he purchases from nearby vignerons who practice organic or biodynamic farming.
This estate was founded in 1961 by Roger Tessier until his son Philippe took over in 1981. They are located in the heart of the Cheverny and Cour Cheverny AOCs with 57 acres of vines. The vineyard exists in a climate that keeps the vineyards cool, situated between the Loire River and the forests of Cheverney, Chambord and Solange. The estate has been Ecocert organic certified since 1998.
Philippe believes that a wine should express the place from which it comes, the climatic conditions of the year, and the vigneron who produces it. Additionally, it must respect the life of the soil and the environment. He believes that wine should be delicious and must also be sound and healthy. Above all, Philippe says, it must be a natural wine.
Hirotake began studying Chemistry and Biology in Japan, but decided midway though his studies that he wanted to make wine and left home for oenology school in Bordeaux. While in school he became enamored with the wines of the Northern Rhône and, upon graduation, approached Theirry Allemand for a position, but none were available. He ended up working with winemaker Jean-Louis Grippat and when Grippat’s vines were acquired by Guigal, Hirotake worked his way up to Chief of Vineyard Management for Hermitage and St. Joseph vines for all of the Grippat and Vallouit estates. During this time, he was also spending his weekends working with Allemand, and was becoming more and more convinced that wine should be made without additives. When a position opened in the early 2000s with Allemand, Hirotake left Guigal and, at the same time, he purchased a few vines and a winery in the town of St. Peray. Hirotake produced his first vintage in 2001 from vineyards that were not worked at all and, which had absolutely no vine treatments, not even those allowed in organic viticulture. Hirotake prefers to let the vines grow on their own, echoing Fukuoka-style, "do-nothing" farming. His winery is equally magical, with his wine cellar-cave carved into the side of a mountain, providing humidity. Some barrels even have mushrooms growing on them. Hirotake considers this environment to be an advantage. These natural elements are all part of the terroir of the cellar and an essential part of his wines. A few years ago, Hirotake planted a new vineyard of Syrah on the steep hills of Cornas, bringing his estate to just over 9 acres.
Azienda Agricola Cirelli is an organic farm certified by IMC, surrounded by 57 acres of land. All of its production is designed to respect the natural cycles of the olive trees, vineyards, horticultural crops and animal breeding. The rotation of crops, which allows the land to rest, the fertilization process and the grazing of the free range animals represent some of the most important phases in the production process of high quality olive oil, wine, vegetables, fruit and meats. Francesco purchased the land in 2003 right after his graduation in Economics. Before that he was a student at the Italian Navy College. He decided to dedicate himself to organic agriculture because of the extreme good values of working the land (“right after God, the farmer comes” he once heard). He is assisted by his partner & spouse, Michela.
Frank Cornelissen is the owner of nearly 30 acres of old, albarello/bush vines high up on the north slope of volcanic Mount Etna. Frank was surrounded by wine from a very young age. There are many details in his winemaking that affect the wines' style, but for him it all starts in the vineyards. Farming on Mt Etna was a deliberate decision. He chose Etna for a few reasons, primarily the soil. He felt that the black volcanic soils have a significant voice and in concert with Etna's primary variety, Nerello Mascalese, he could make wines of great complexity and distinction. Frank's practice of viticulture is minimalist in some ways and heavily labor intensive in others. While he plants fruit and nut trees as well as buckwheat and flowers among the vines, he also adds nothing to the vineyard. Zero applications unless copper is absolutely the difference between crop or no crop. This is Fukuoka-style "do nothing" farming in a nutshell. However, vine attention, pruning and picking are extremely detailed. In the winery his work follows the same philosophy. Fermentation and aging take place in HDPE macrobins and clay amphora. No commercial yeasts, SO2, or anything else is added to the wines. On the flip side, this means that sterilization of winery equipment (in the form of O3) is essential, as is the need to harness the protective power of fine lees.
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