Falling on 8 March 2021, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the work and achievements of women in all fields.
The theme for this year’s IWD is #ChooseToChallenge, something we think this group of female winemakers do by holding such prominent positions, in what is traditionally a male-dominated industry.
We’ve found light, delicate drops from the English countryside, a full-bodied red from sisters in Spain and a fabulous fizz from a celebrity trio – all with extremely talented women at the helm.
These inspirational oenophiles are paving the way for more women to join the winemaking ranks, so, without further ado, read on for some of our favourite reds, whites and rosés created by women.
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Ayala brut majeur champagne, 12%
Women have long held an integral role in the champagne industry, with many female winemakers at the helm of well-known houses (both Veuve Clicquot and Madame Pommery took over from their husbands when they passed away). Ayala’s chef de cave, or head winemaker, Caroline Latrive, has created an elegant, dry fizz that offers fantastic value for money. It’s part of the Bollinger family, but at a fraction of the price.
A relatively low dosage keeps each sip crisp and refreshing, making this an excellent aperitif or accompaniment to seafood.
Della Vite valdobbiadene prosecco superiore DOCG NV, 11.5%
In the words of the Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin, “Sisters, are doing it for themselves!” In this case, it’s the Delevingne sisters; Chloe, Poppy and Cara.
They’ve created a premium DOCG prosecco, (the highest classification in Italy), that shows champagne-like levels of complexity. Deliciously floral, expect notes of brioche alongside the classic green apple and tropical fruit. What’s more, the winery, which is situated in a UNESCO world heritage site, uses sustainable practices and the resulting drink is vegan-friendly.
Susana Balbo crios torrontés, 14%
Susana Balbo became the first woman in Argentina to receive her degree in oenology (the study of wine) back in 1981. Since then, she’s been named as one of the “most influential women winemakers” by The Drink Business magazine. This wine by Balbo is crisp and bone dry, with white blossom on the nose and juicy peach notes that make this a fab wine to stock up on for summer. Selfridges is currently offering a 10 per cent discount when you buy six.
Christina gruner veltliner, 12.5%
We know you should never judge a book by its cover, but will you look at this? Gruner veltliner isn’t seen so widely here in the UK, but it’s the main white grape of Austria. This unfiltered, organic, natural wine is made by Christina Netzl, who took over her family’s vineyards after completing her oenology and wine management studies in the UK. It’s just stunning to drink, with a really fresh quality.
Expect juicy kiwi, melon, a touch of minerality and just a whiff of salinity. A delightfully well-balanced drop.
De Andrés Sisters mountain wine, 13.5%
Winemakers and sisters Ruth and Ana De Andrés are all about expressing the distinct terroir in their wine. In this case, that’s garnacha, grown in the mountainous area of Ávila, just north of Madrid. Natural and vegan, we loved the pure red fruit and touch of minerality. It’s also part of Borough Wine’s fantastic return bottle scheme, which cuts carbon emissions by about 30 per cent compared to a standard bottle.
Slobodne deviner 2017, 12.5%
The family that run Slobodne, meaning “freedom” in Slovak, are winemaking legends. Established in 1912, the vineyards were lost twice, the first time to the Second World War and then again to the rule of the communist government. The sisters that tend the vines today reclaimed the land in 1997, and this perfumed natural wine is the result. It’s had just 10 days skin contact and is full of zesty grapefruit and lychee flavours.
It’s stocked at Silver Lining, an East London wine bar specialising in orange and skin contact styles, and is a great place to stock up on more of the natural stuff.
Kylie Minogue rosé wine, 12.5%
You’re going to want a glass of Kylie’s perfectly light and refreshing provençal blush rosé to accompany any early spring sunshine. Bursting with red berries and fragrant white blossom, this is a textbook pink.
Quite 2018 mencía, 13%
This female-founded company showcases a great selection of women winemakers, including this Spanish red by Veronica Ortega. Made with mencía grapes (pronounced “men-thee-ah”), this is a smooth, spicy affair, crying out for a cosy night in. If you’re a fan of pinot noir, we reckon you’ll love this blackcurrant-heavy red. It’s great with food too – try with charcuterie or steak.
Bodegas Amézola de la Mora Berry Bros. & Rudd rioja 2017, 14%
Made by sisters María and Cristina de Amézola, this well-priced, medium-bodied rioja has had a drop of reserve wine in the blend, giving it added complexity. Expect fresh strawberries and a smooth, spicy finish.
Nice argentinian malbec, 13%, 250ml x 6
Canned wine and cocktails are seeing a resurgence, and London-based start-up Nice (co-founded by Lucy Wright), is at the fore. It launched with a crowd-pleasing rosé and sauvignon blanc, and has since introduced this malbec from Mendoza.
Not only does it taste nice (which, with notes of juicy cherry and plum, it really does), but it aims to be “the nicest wine company in the world”, taking into consideration its impact on the planet and the people involved in making it. Ideal for alfresco, Covid-secure gatherings this summer (we hope!), the slimline cans are also fully recyclable.
Laylo lot #1 tempranillo 2019, 13%
Forget everything you thought you knew about boxed wine. Founded during lockdown by two female former Naked Wines colleagues, Laylo showcases independent winemakers via a box format. Not only is it better for the environment but it keeps wine fresh for up to six weeks and is equivalent to three bottles.
The company’s first wine is made by the aforementioned Ruth and Ana de Andres sisters, but this time it’s an ultra-quaffable tempranillo with a touch of oak aging. It’s all packaged up in a pretty printed box inspired by tapas bars (remember them?), making it a boxed wine we are very happy to have on display.
M&S organic famille brocard chablis, 13%
This unoaked, single-estate chablis is made using organic and sustainable principles by the talented winemaker Odile Van der Moere. An elegant, zesty and creamy white, this will be particularly divine paired with seafood.
Cramele Recas solomonar reserve red, 14.5%
If you’ve not tried Romanian wine before, Cramele Recas is a great place to start. The brand’s 2020 winemaking team is made up of 80 per cent women. Together they produce this modern, fruit-forward wine that’s ideal for winter nights in.
Weighty and full bodied (with a punchy 14.5 per cent ABV), it’s a blend of cabernet, merlot and the indigenous feteasca neagra grape. Rich, with black fruit and creamy vanilla on the finish, we think it’s fantastic value for money.
Yalumba galway barossa shiraz, 14.5%
Looking for a full-bodied red to while away the rest of lockdown? This is it. Silky smooth and chocolatey, with notes of black fruit and violet, this is delicious with earthy mushroom dishes such as risotto. It’s the work of head winemaker Louisa Rose, who also happens to be one of the most influential winemakers in Australia, having started her career as a cellar hand at Yalumba almost 30 years ago.
Bolney Estate pinot noir, 11.5%
We couldn’t resist showing you something grown here in the UK. A much lighter red, this lightly oaked pinot noir is from the Bolney winery in West Sussex, headed up by female winemaker and managing director Sam Linter. She’s also director of Wine GB, and a pioneer of the British wine industry. This is a great summer red which can be served lightly chilled if you like. Try it with cold cuts and fish dishes.
The verdict: Wines made by women
Covering a vast array of grapes, styles and techniques, it’s almost impossible to choose just one as our best buy. However, it seems only right, as we raise a glass to these female winemakers, to do so with champagne. So for that reason, the well-priced Ayala brut majeur champagne takes our top spot.
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