To celebrate International Women's Day, we wanted to give a shout out to some amazing female winemakers we're delighted to work with from all over the world.
Here in our own backyard at Reserve, we count ourselves very lucky to be surrounded by successful women.
First up of course is Reserve's owner and founder Kate, who's been working in the wine industry for almost 20 years. She's grown this business from a one woman, one shop operation to a company which employs over 30 staff across 6 locations - and is still very much growing!
Charlotte, our Head of People, joined the company as the manager of our Altrincham site, before moving into the senior team. She now makes sure that all our staff right across the company are well looked after and developed into superstars. Frankie, our Marketing Manager, joined last year, moving up from London to sunny Manchester. She has completely transformed the way we work online and is driving growth across the business. Then in our sites, we have Courtney, the GM of our Altrincham Market bar and Sogol with her endless enthusiasm at Mackie Mayor, two faces you might be familiar with amongst many others in our brilliant team. I'm sure you've met quite a few of them on your travels.
Courtney & Charlotte at Mackie Mayor
Elle at Alty Market
Frankie and Kate at Didsbury
But it's not just women at Reserve that we want to champion today, but women who make wine.
So here's selection of some of our favourite female-made wines from around the world. There were some tough choices picking these out as there are so many great wines in the range. If you want to know about more of them then please do get in touch.
Waterkloof, Circumstance Sauvignon Blanc - Nadia Langenegger
Nadia has been working at the Waterkloof estate since the cellar opened its doors in 2009 and after 5 years as assistant winemaker, she was promoted to the top job at Paul Boutinot's South African estate.
Having cut her teeth at wineries around the world in Australia, France and New Zealand, she gained knowledge in terroir variation and crafting a diverse range of wine styles.
The use of organic and biodynamic farming at Waterkloof really drew her in and she now knows every inch of the farm like the back of her hand. She sums up her philosophy and that of Waterkloof so well:
“Albeit somewhat of a cliché, my winemaking philosophy is one of minimal intervention. Fine wine is made in the vineyards. Just apply meticulous care and guidance and you can just let the wine make itself.”
The Circumstance range of wines, covering the key grape varieties used at Waterkloof as well as Sauvignon Blanc, is a big part of that. The cool climate site takes advantage of the fresh sea breeze coming off the Atlantic Ocean and its south-facing exposure, meaning it gets slightly less sun throughout the day. This is key in retaining that freshness in the wine. The gravitational cellar means that there's little interference as the wine moves from one stage of the process to the next. The wild fermentation takes around 5 months to complete. This slow process allows for more structure and a gentler release of aroma and flavour into the wine.
The result is a ripe and textured style of Sauvignon with that classic gooseberry nose, good citrus and ripe white peaches. There's a hint of fennel on the finish with an almost bracing minerality and mouth-watering acidity that balances everything out. The perfect white to try with seafood cooked simply on the grill or with the classic pairing of goat's cheese.
Nadia at work
Iona, Solace Syrah - Rozy Gunn
Rozy Gunn is a woman of many talents - a classically-trained artist and sculptor who studied at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town and a maker of really brilliant wines.
She is the co-founder of Iona wines, based in Elgin South Africa, along with her husband Andrew. Iona has long time been a customer favourite here at Reserve.
Rozy's creativity and attention to detail, teamed with Andrew's engineering - and of course their love of great wine - is what makes them stand out from the crowd. Their philosophy is simple - it's all about a deep trust in the way that they farm and a natural approach to winemaking practices in the cellar. That means minimal use of sulphur, commercial yeasts and filtration. The resulting wines really showcase the uniqueness of each vintage and you never get the sense that Rozy and Andrew have overplayed their hand.
Rozy and Andrew stumbled across the vineyard (once an abandoned apple orchard) in their quest for starting a new life away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Iona vineyards are in a unique position. Being so close to the freezing Atlantic yet high up means the grapes are protected by a cooling blanket of mist on warm days. They don't get too much sun - so we're talking slow ripening fruit, moderate alcohol, perfectly balanced acidity and flavour that's been beautifully developed.
Solace is Rozy's masterpiece and was produced from the nearby Brocha farm, which is farmed organically. With warmer growing temperatures, rockier soils and lower rainfall than Iona, the resulting wine is unfiltered with only a small amount of sulphur added before bottling and no enzymes or yeast. Grapes are hand-harvested before being crushed and fermented with a gentle punch-down of the fruit twice a day - again all by hand.
Bursting with red berry fruit and bramble with layers of spice and the classic peppery notes you would expect to find, it's energetic and rich with floral elements and feels like the perfect match to Rozy's creative personality.
Try this with some juicy bbq ribs or braised beef. Or if you're looking for the perfect wine to pair with some tasty hard cheeses like gouda, the Solace would be a winner.
Rozy working with her team in the vineyard
Moorooduc Pinot Gris on Skins - Kate McIntyre MW
Australian-based Kate McIntyre is a Master of Wine and is the Marketing and Business Development Manager for her small family-run wine business Moorooduc Estate.
Their family philosophy has always been the same since day one - a focus on top quality ingredients and a delicate hands-on approach in the vineyard. The grapes are hand harvested with minimal intervention and chemicals, allowing them to produce the best possible fruit and wines which are super food friendly and really complex.
Kate's incredible Pinot Gris on Skins is something a little different - and we love it. A white wine made in the style of a red, in the same way that Moorooduc make their world-class Pinot Noir.
What strikes you first is the colour - a beautiful hue of watermelon pink which comes from the extended skin contact of 20 days - a really attractive looking bottle. It's fun, fresh and bursting with floral aromas of rose petals and violet - everything you could want in a skin contact wine. Pickled ginger, rhubarb and red plum come through with subtle hints of fennel and Moroccan spice on the palate. It's the type of wine that would look elegant displayed on your shelf but wouldn't sit there for long as you'll want to crack it open with friends. We're thinking a Thai feast of spicy lemongrass fish cakes. Or a big plate of chilli prawns would work a treat.
Les Parcellieres de Saulx, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot 2018 - Isabelle Laurand
Les Parcellieres de Saulx is one of our top producers of Burgundy, based in the historic village of Meursault. This is a modern winery with a focus on sourcing grapes from the most famous appelations in Burgundy and working with organic and biodynamic farmers with a real respect for their land.
At the helm of the winemaking is Isabelle. Working with these growers she produces wines with a true sense of terroir and buildS on the century-old foundations which the winery was created upon.
This 1er Cru Chardonnay is right on the western border of the appelation and the wine spends around 15 months in French oak barrels adding a level of depth, richness and complexity you'd expect from Chassagne-Montrachet. There's aromas of honeyed fruit, toasted almonds and soft vanilla with ripe pears, a touch of peppery spice and a clean, well balanced finish. This is a wine which will go well in the cellar for a number of years or can be enjoyed now with roasted chicken dishes or with hake with a rich sauce.
Isabelle at the winery
Calcarious Nu Rosso 1ltr 2020 - Valentina Passalacqua
Valentina is one of Italy's most renowned producers of Natural wine. Based in Puglia, her Calcarious wines are known all around the world.
They instantly stand out in their large one litre bottles and striking labels which pay homage to the calcium rich soils on which the vines are grown. Valentina focuses on the local Pugliese varieties and the red comes from the thick skinned Negroamaro. Despite the warm climate and thick skinned grapes however, this is a wine bursting with life, vibrant and fresh,-and perfectly suited to being lightly chilled before serving.
Valentina's philosophy is that natural wine is for everybody and shouldn't be pigeon holed or left to a niche group - and it's hard to disagree when it tastes this good. The dark fruits are crunchy with a wild, herbaceous edge and a super smooth finish.