Finding great producers: 4 winemakers that give a schist

What makes wine great? A big question with a very simple answer. Producers that give a damn produce great wine. Winemaking is a craft and it’s our job to search out, visit and taste the wines to make sure we bring the very best of the bunch to you.

Despite working with different grapes, climates and techniques, the thing that great producers all have in common is a passion for making great wine. Let’s not be naïve here, winemakers must make money to survive so there are commercial factors to consider. But the best winemakers we know have a vision, and that vision does not involve churning out litres of mass-produced wine for mass consumption.
Most of the producers we work with are family-owned vineyards, passed down from generation to generation where wine runs deep in their veins. They know that in order to leave happy healthy vineyards for the next generation they have to take care of their land. As such, most of our producers make delicious organic and biodynamic wines with sustainability and land management in mind. Let’s take a closer look at the best of the bunch.
Clemens Busch, Germany (Organic, Biodynamic, Vegetarian, Vegan)
The charming and self-effacing couple of Clemens and his wife Rita have gained a cult following over the past three decades for their laser-sharp, richly textured and terroir defined wines. Clemens pioneered organic farming in the early 1980’s and converted to biodynamic production in 2005. They are also members of the elite VDP top producers of Germany.
Nowhere in the world is the identification of vine, winemaker and produce more precisely defined. We’ve tasted thousands of Rieslings over the years and nowhere on Earth have we found Rieslings to compare with these. In the sweet versus dry debate, it’s worth noting that Clemens only uses natural yeasts, preferring each wine to find its perfect balance in each vintage.
JH Meyer Signature Wines and Mother Rock, South Africa (Organic, Biodynamic, Low Sulphur, Vegetarian, Vegan)
Johan is a small boutique wine grower producing hand crafted natural wines from small plots in the south coast region of South Africa. Driven by nature and “terroir” the wines show unique flavours and characteristics of the land it was grown on. Noticing a gap in the UK market for artisanal, well-made South African Chenin at an accessible price, he decided to use this fruit to create the first ‘Force Majeure’.
After this came the ‘Mother Rock’ label (a collaboration between Johan and Indigo founder Ben Henshaw), focusing on discovering exceptional parcels of well-farmed vines grown on a variety of soil types and vinified as simply as possible. These are terroir-focused wines made to offer drinkability and enjoyment, and it doesn’t hurt that the labels are beautiful too. Ultimately, Mother Rock is about showcasing the best and purest expression of South Africa’s diverse terroir.
Phillippe Pacalet, Burgundy (Organic, Biodynamic, Low Sulphite)
Philippe claims not to be a dogmatist but by farming biodynamically, insisting on 100% whole bunch fermentations, only natural yeasts, no additional sulphite and with a marked preference for old oak his wines are unusually distinctive. His philosophy is all about preserving the integrity of the grapes and avoiding oxidation naturally and he owns some great parcels of vines across the Cote d’Or (concentrating on Nuits reds). Destined to achieve cult wine status, Pacalet’s Burgundies are already in short supply thanks to a growing band of connoisseurs who recognise how uniquely thrilling they are.
Timo Mayer, Yarra Valley (Organic, Vegetarian, Vegan)
Timo’s style promotes elegance and purity over muscle and showiness, and his are some of Australia’s best Pinot Noirs. He likes to refer to himself as “just a farmer”, but to us he’s pretty legendary, and those who have met him agree. Quantities are minuscule, and the wines are stunning, so grab these while you can!
In his own words, ‘We are a small farm producing hand crafted, single vineyard wine. We believe that wines are made in the vineyard and therefore try to interfere as little as possible in the natural winemaking process. All our wines are unfined and unfiltered to show the true expression of the land. Our aim is to make wines with a point of difference. Bring back the Funk’.