Anderson Valley, CA, USA
Anderson Valley perches in Northern California near the Pacific Ocean. The area’s cool, marine conditions prove ideal for cultivating Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
“My father Jean-Claude Rouzaud, former president of Champagne Louis Roederer, understood that outstanding estate vineyards create exceptional sparkling wines,” says Frederic Rouzaud, scion and president of Roederer Estate. Further local holdings include historic Scharffenberger Cellars and biodynamic Domaine Anderson.
“When expansion in the Champagne region was not feasible, he looked at California and settled on the Anderson Valley in 1982,” says Rouzaud. “He chose the region because he thought it would be perfect for producing the best quality fruit for sparkling wine, and he was right.”
Roederer Estate in the Anderson Valley
Corsica, or Ile de Beauté, anchors off the French Mediterranean coast. The 183 km (114 mi) long island boasts rocky, high-altitude schist and granite soils, abundant coastline, and wind-blocking mountains.
It captured the heart of François Labet of Château de La Tour – Clos de Vougeot and Domaine Pierre Labet of Bourgogne, whose family traces their noble winemaking heritage back 500 years. Labet spends his summers in Corsica every year.
For his project François Labet, Corsica offers a sunny spin on Pinot Noir. “My goal was to produce in France, outside of Burgundy, Pinot Noirs that could match with New Zealand Pinot,” he says. “In Corsica, we want to bring the lovely delicacy of the Pinot to young drinkers.”
Piero Incisa della Rochetta / Credit: Bodega Chacra
Anchored in southern Argentina, Patagonia proffers intense luminosity, cold nights, abundant mineral-rich Andes mountain water for irrigation, equally mineral-rich soils, and strong, drying winds that help mitigate odium.
“I chose Patagonia because I drank a wine that came from Rio Negro, and felt that it was a tremendous potential,” says Piero Incisa della Rochetta of Bodega Chacra, nephew of famed Sassiciai - Tenuta San Guido founder Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta. “When I finally went to visit the 'Sunken Desert Valley’ where these vineyards were planted, I immediately noticed the perfect condition [sic] that are conducive to making pure organic and biodynamic wines.”
“In Patagonia, most vineyards are pre-phylloxera,” adds Incisa della Rochetta. “This means pure unique rare genetic material that is massale selection, free of clones, and American root stock. In my world, this is priceless – it’s like finding Alibaba’s cavern – and I am not joking either!”
Vineyard of Bodega Chacra in Patagonia / Credit: Bodega Chacra
Santa Rita Hills – Santa Barbara County, CA, USA
François Labet of Domaine Pierre Labet also finds great potential in California. Here, Labet partners with John Terlato of the Terlato family and Terlato Wines on Domaine Jean François, a joint venture they started in 2018 using fruit from Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Rita Hills appellation.
Original co-founders Michael Benedict and Richard Sanford planted historic Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in 1972. The site’s marine-based Monterey shale soils and Mediterranean climate, cooled by the nearby Pacific Ocean, proved ideal for cultivating quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
“This is a project for which François and I have great passion,” says Terlato. “Sanford is owned by the Terlato Family – by my brother Bill and I – and the joint venture with François came out of our great respect for the place along with the same great appreciation for what our vineyard has to offer.”
“Our goal was to use the fruit from this extraordinary, iconic and historic vineyard and make wines with Burgundian heart,” concludes Terlato. “It does not mean that we're trying to copy Burgundy. That's impossible. It means that we're taking many hundreds of years of experience of the Labet family in Burgundy, and then applying that knowledge and experience to this specific unique place to show what this might yield. And we're very, very happy with what it has yielded.”
Etienne Bizot, chairman and CEO of Société Jacques Bollinger / Credit: Champagne Bollinger
Willamette Valley, OR, USA
Société Jacques Bollinger (SJB) purchased Ponzi Vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 2021, a wine region which resembles Champagne in latitude and climate.
“The terroir of the Willamette Valley also proved to be an important factor as to why we invested in the region” says Etienne Bizot, chairman and CEO of SJB. “Ponzi Vineyards was one of the earliest to recognize the potential of this region, taking a huge risk to plant some of the first Pinot Noir in the late 1960s.”
Ponzi Vineyards lies between the Coast and Cascade ranges, “providing the ideal balance of temperature, humidity and soil for cool climate varietals that are grown there,” continues Bizot. “It is also a region that welcomes wine tourism, and Ponzi’s accessibility to Portland offers a wonderful escape for wine lovers to visit and share memorable experiences around wine. Our hope is to drive value growth and visibility for Ponzi Vineyards, engage with American consumers, and produce outstanding wines that appeal to their preferences.”