August 9, 2016

Five Cutting Edge Women Winegrowers

Melanie Pfister of Domaine Pfister in Alsace; Stéphanie Caslot of Domaine de la Chevalerie in Bourgueil; Elise Villiers of Domaine Elise Villiers in Vézelay; Françoise Le Calvez of Château Coupe Roses in Minervois; Carole Salen of Domaine les Bastides in Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence.


Mélanie Pfister, Domaine Pfister

Melanie PfisterPrior to taking charge of the Pfister family domain in 2006, Mélanie did internships at the following estates: Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace), Méo-Camuzet (Burgundy), Château Cheval Blanc (Saint Emilion), Château d’Yquem (Sauternes) and Craggy Range (New Zealand). In 2005, she made the first Cuvée 8, a blended wine that she had long envisioned and so named because she is the eighth generation Pfister to make wine at the domain.Prior to taking charge of the Pfister family domain in 2006, Mélanie did internships at the following estates: Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace), Méo-Camuzet (Burgundy), Château Cheval Blanc (Saint Emilion), Château d’Yquem (Sauternes)


Stéphanie Caslot, Domaine de la Chevalerie

Stephanie CaslotWith her firecracker personality, Stéphanie Caslot aids her brother in the management of Domaine de la Chevalerie which has been in her family since 1640. The domain’s 81 acres in Bourgeuil (59 of which surround the house and cellar) were certified organic in 2009, and there is now an experimental plot being farmed biodynamically. Following the family tradition, Stéphanie continues to make deliciously meaty, dense, and astonishingly age-worthy Loire Cabernet Francs.

Elise Villiers, Domaine Elise Villiers

Elise VilliersAs a young girl, Elise was introduced to wine by an uncle, who was a wine merchant and who would come to holiday dinners bearing bottles of prestigious appellations. When her own children began to come of age, she started to seriously consider a career as a vigneronne. In 1989, an elderly couple among the pioneers in the rejuvenation of Vézelay’s viticulture put their parcels up for sale. Elise offered to purchase the vines on the condition that the couple guide her for the first few years, something that they were delighted to do. Today, her domain consists of four hectares (10 acres) of vines, which grow under her watchful eye.  It’s no exaggeration to say that she knows every one of her vines.

Françoise Le Calvez, Château Coupe Roses

Francoise Le CalvezWhen you meet Françoise Le Calvez of Château Coupe Roses in the market, your first impression is inevitably: what a stunning lady! But you soon recognize that there is far more to this woman than her strikingly fashionable appearance. Françoise grew up in Languedoc’s Wild West long before women took any part in winemaking. In spite of this, she doggedly followed her father in the vines and in the cellar to learn the craft. Her drive turned out to be a good thing, too, because when it came time to hand off the domain, she was primed to take the reins.

Carole Salen, Domaine les Bastides
Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence

Carole Salen smallerOur newest addition to the portfolio, Carole Salen from Domaine Les Bastides followed in her father’s footsteps making rare and rarified wines. Carole earned degrees in viticulture and enology from universities in Bordeaux and Beaune, then returned to the domain in 1987 to help her father. She finds organic farming to be second nature, and she extends its logic to the cellar, where her ferments are spontaneous, sulfur additions are kept to a minimum, acid additions do not exist, fining rarely happens, and filtrations are kept to a minimum.  This is, in every sense, a cutting edge artisanal domain.