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Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk

Kelly J. Hayes
Aspen Times Weekly

It’s Mother’s Day. And to those of you on your way to dine with your mother on her day, may I suggest bringing a good bottle of wine to help celebrate the occasion.

In Colorado this is the first Mother’s Day in decades that you can actually go to a wine shop or liquor store and purchase a special bottle for that special woman on this special Sunday. Senate Bill 82, passed last year in the State Capitol, opened the door for Sunday sales at Colorado liquor stores as of last July 1. I can’t think of a better use for the new law (perhaps other than Super Bowl Sunday) than Mothers Day.

Going a step further, may I also suggest, in keeping with the theme, that you consider buying a wine made by a woman. There is debate about whether the gender of a wine’s maker makes any discernible difference in what is in the bottle, but this is, nonetheless, a good day to support and celebrate those women who debunked the industry’s traditional gender roles and gave birth, if you will, to their own wines.

Last Sunday the CBS news program “60 Minutes” re-ran an October 2008 feature hosted by Morley Safer, (who, as the show’s go-to wine guy, also hosted the 1991 report on the French Paradox) that profiled the Antinori family of Tuscany. The Antinoris have been in the wine trade for more than 600 years and now, for the first time in 26 generations, Antinori women are personally involved in the business.

Albiera, Allegra and Alessi, family patriarch Piero’s daughters, basically run what is now a global wine brand with interests, in addition to their extensive holdings in Italy, in Chile, Hungary and Washington state. And, as of last fall, they have acquired an ownership stake in Stags’ Leap Wine Cellars, the historic Napa Valley winery.

Mom may have seen and been inspired by the piece, but you needn’t spring for an Antinori 2005 Solaia Cabernet Sauvignon ($300) to get her something special that has been influenced by the feminine side of an iconic wine family.

She might also appreciate Wine Spectator’s wine of the year for 2008, which was the Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta Colchagua Valley 2005 ($100). This stunningly precocious winery in Chile is the creation of Alexandra Marnier-Lapostolle, a member of the family that has been producing Grand Marnier for more than 150 years. Alexandra does not actually make the wines, but she spearheaded the project that, in just 11 short years after its inception, produced this prestigious award winner.

Veronique Drouhin’s family history in Burgundy dates to the 13th century, and yet, when she set out to make great Pinot Noir in 1989, she chose Oregon’s Willamette Valley as her sacred ground. Today, 20 years after her first vintage, Domaine Drouhin Oregon produces some of the world’s most acclaimed Pinots. The 2005 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Laurene ($65) is named after Veronique’s daughter (the next generation of Drouhin winemakers?) and is a perfect bottle to take along to mom.

Then there is Gina Gallo of the … well, you know, the Gallo family. While Gallo has a modest history by old-world standards, having been founded just 75 years ago by Ernest and Julio Gallo, it has become the largest family-owned winery in the world. Gina, the third-generation winemaker, now is in charge of production and makes many quality wines along with her brother Matt. The best may come from the Gallo Family Vineyards collection of Sonoma County wines. Try taking the 2006 Gallo of Sonoma Laguna Vineyard Chardonnay ($28) to Mom’s house and tell her about how young Gina is changing the image of the Gallo family’s wines.

But one need not look for big names and famous families to find great wines made by women. Merry Edwards makes some of the world’s best Pinot Noirs in the Russian River Valley. Patricia Green also makes wonderful Pinot Noir but her canvas is the Oregon wine country. And in France the winemaker of the esteemed Chateau d’Yquem desert wines is Sandrine Garbay.

Regardless of pedigree or location, each of these women winemakers share something in common with you and me.

Yes, they all have mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day.


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