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Walcher grappa and liqueur factory in Northern Italy.



Story 1: Walcher grappa and liqueur factory in Northern Italy.



The idea of a wine lover's trip to the Rhône Valley probably occurred to us together with the WineFortune company at the same time. Having visited the Rhône Valley for the first time in 2013, over time it has already developed  familiar places. Usually, the journey starts south of Lyon along the riverside tanks, which the locals call Chemie Alley.

The Rhône Valley is one of the oldest wine growing regions in France. The first grape plants were brought to the vicinity of Marseille by the Phoenicians, but the Romans began to penetrate inland along the Rhône river valley to the north. Some tribes were defeated, others were reconciled, and at the turn of the millennium, the Roman state already controlled the areas of modern France. Lyon and nearby Vienne were important cities of the empire. In his Natural History (Naturalis Historia), the historian Pliny the Elder also mentions the wines of Vienne and says that they had a high reputation and were better than the wines of Burgundy, Auverne (Loire) and Switzerland. In antiquity and the Middle Ages, the wines of the Rhône Valley were transported to the Mediterranean in barge-like riverboats, and clay vessels were loaded onto seagoing vessels near the coast.


Paul Jaboulet Subject

The first stop of the wine tour was Tain L'Hermitage and the Paul Jaboulet Aine winery. To the north of the town of Tain L'Hermitage is the famous Hermitage hillside, where the wines of the same name are produced. At the top of the hill there is a chapel dedicated to St. Christopher. Hermitage wines are relatively well-known in foreign countries and approximately half of the production is exported.  A third of Rhône wines as a whole are exported.

The reception took place in the cozy Jaboulet wine house presentation shop - restaurant located in the center of the city. At the turn of the millennium, the Jaboulet family sold the winery to Caroline Frey, who also owns wineries in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Switzerland. With the arrival of new owners, more active activities were started in the direction of sustainable agriculture. At the moment, it is being decided which concept and certification to use. The flagship of the house is, of course, the Hermitage wine La Chapelle, which comes from four different parcels of land. Hermitage 'La Maison Bleue' (red) marks the wines a step down from the top. The P. Jaboulet Côtes du Rhône wine is Parallel 45. 

Yann Chave

After the Jaboulet winery, we headed to the smaller winery Yann Chave (19 ha). A wine house founded relatively recently, but with its own specific structure and production philosophy. Twenty years ago, like other farmers in the region, cherries, apricots and other fruits were also cultivated, but then Yann Chave decided to focus and dedicate himself only to wines. One source of inspiration was rugby. Incidentally, Gerard Bertrand, the owner of the well-known Languedoc wine house, is also a rugby player. Yann Chave, who studied economics at the university, sees similar features in planting and tending grape plants to preparing for a rugby game: position selection, strategy and game plan. Having a good game plan and sticking to it is a prerequisite for good wine. Yann Chave Crozes- Hermitage white had very good notes. The level of red wines ranged from good Crozes-Hermitages to very good Hermitages.


In the picture Rünno Lumiste and Yann Chave (right)


Stephane Montez

Halfway between Lyon and Tain L'Hermitage, on top of a hill overlooking a couple of hundred kilometers of views of the Alps, is the winery of Stephane Montez. Located in the northern part of Saint Joseph, the winery originally belonged to the family of Claude Louis Hector de Villars, Marshal of Louis XIV. The forefather of the Montez family, who was a carpenter and cooper, bought the first piece of land in the area in 1741.  Montez Winery is characterized by elegant, softer syrahs. The winery owns 48 hectares in five different protected designation of origin wine areas, which are characterized by good protection against excessive heat and night frosts. They are known for their white Condrieu and red Côte Rôties and Saint Josephs. The winery's Cuveé du Papy is considered one of the best Saint Josephs. Veinimaja's more affordable product range also includes red and white wines from IGP lands.

On the way back, the obligatory pictures at Château-Grillet were taken in the rain. Indeed, the grapes grow on the steep terraces near the castle, and unfortunately we didn't manage to see the lady of the castle, Salma Hayek. 

Pictured is Château-Grillet Photo: K.Torstenberg

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The village of Ampuis on the Rhône is home to the Côte Rôtie and Condrieu wineries. Several buildings of the Guigal winery and their Vidal Fleury winery are located along the main street. In the old days: this means twenty years ago, residential buildings and wine production were together, but now the more modern productions are still placed separately. 

Etienne Guigal is, of course, a man without whom it is impossible to write the wine history of the Rhône Valley. In 1947, a man who came to Vidal Fleury's cellar as a worker with no knowledge of wine, worked hard to become a wine master, manager of a wine company, and also founded his own wine company. In 1984, Vidal Fleury's heirs came to Etienne Guigal and sold their winery to him. Vidal Fleury continued to operate as an independent brand and 2006 is housed in a wine cellar reminiscent of an ancient Egyptian temple. Under the management of Etienne Guigal, his son Marcell and grandson Philippe, the company has continued to grow and develop. During this time, Guigal family members have been characterized by good business sense and involvement with innovations.

According to the guide, Marcell Guigal  At the age of 82, he is still vital and participates in the work of the winery. It is not surprising, because creating such a wine house requires enormous energy and talent. The Guigal company owns several buildings in Ampuis, some of which came with the Vidal Fleury cellar and some of which were built later. A tunnel was even built under the main street to communicate with each other. As the guide Kimberly said, the old cellars and the black mold in them ensure the optimal development of the wines. Guigal's company is also characterized by the skillful use of oak and the control of purchased grapes. During the autumn picking period, Philippe and Marcel Guigal, together with two wine masters, anonymously taste the grapes and, based on the quality, the decision to buy or not to buy grapes is made.

Guigal winery produces 8 million bottles a year. The top of the product range is named after Château Ampuis, a castle owned by the family. 

Stéphane Ogier

Stéphane Ogier can be said to be the most ambitious winemaker in the Rhône. Ambition manifests itself in active communication with wine critics, politicians, chefs and other important people  in the wine world. His father Michel's name was already in the 1987 Robert Parker book, but the decision to put all the emphasis on making wines came twenty years ago. The cultivation of apricots and the sale of grapes to the Guigal winery were abandoned, and all emphasis was placed on the development of our own wines, especially Côte Rôties.

To acquire knowledge, the family's son Stéphane studied in Burgundy and also worked for a while in South Africa. The development of the winery has progressed in an upward direction. 2016 new winery on the edge of Ampuisi village, 2022 production building in Southern Rhône. Stéphane himself said that they started at the right time about 10 years ago when it was still possible to acquire new lands. If then the prices were expensive, now the prices are astronomical. (Sources indicate the value of land in Côte Rôtie at 1.25M/ hectare). Belle Helene is the flagship red wine of the S.Ogier winery.


A collective project among the winemakers of the Northern Rhône is the restoration of Roman-era vineyards on the left bank of the river a little north of the city of Vienne. The area, which currently has the status of geographical protection, wants to get a Protected Designation of Origin (AOC). Stéphane Ogier et al. it is estimated that Seyssuel's soil and slope angle are as good as those of Côte Rôtie. Stéphane Ogier's portfolio also includes the wine L`Ame Soeur. By this he means that the Seyssuel wine made on the left bank is the same soul as the Côte Rôtie wine on the right bank.

Picture 1: Stephane Ogier on the right, Picture 2: Bottles still made by Stephane's father Michel. photo. R. Kaljurand

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Jean Luc Jamet

Jean-Luc Jamet is a winemaker whose winery separated from his brother Jean Paul Jamet in 2013. The winery is under development and a new cellar is under construction. Jean-Luc Jamet winery owns very good plots of land  On the upper slopes of the Côte Rôtie (5 ha in total) and an additional 4 ha in the Côtes du Rhône. Making a new winery is a multifaceted process and in addition to making good wines, you need to communicate with wine critics, restaurateurs and influencers.  In addition to Côtes du Rhônes white, red and Côte Rôtie, the product portfolio includes an IGP wine made from Pinot Noir. The direction of development of the winery is so-called. development of craft wines, in which the characteristic features of different parcels of land come out. 

Photo: Jean Luc Jamet and his father Photo 2: Côte Rôtie hillside in Ampuis R.Kaljurand 

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What to say about the trip? Every time you visit the same place, you start to see new details. Making wines is a generational activity. Some wineries have been brought to the top by the grandfathers of today's managers, and some wine masters aspire to the top themselves. Since the age of grape plants for top wines starts from 40-50 years, in the 70s, my grandfather already had to plant these plants on the hillsides. 

Another understanding was that each peak has its own philosophy, which is transferred to work and activities. At Yann Chave, the Cartesian -René Descarte was an admirer of philosophy. Stéphane Ogier studied Burgundy and probably brought with him the medieval traditions of the Burgundian monasteries. Paul Jaboulet Aine wine house is looking for the best way to connect with nature. 

The rocky soil of the Northern Rhône has both grape roots and a winemaking philosophy deep inside. 






Stéphane Ogier

White wine

Viognier de Rosine 2020 Collines Rhodaniennes IGP. Stéphane Ogier

Grape: Viognier 100%

Suitable for storage: 3...5 years

Aroma: apricot, peach, lemon, violets and honey.

Taste: Apricot and spices.

Food compatibility: aperitif, river fish, crustaceans, fruit cake

Price: 23.50

Red wine


Le Temps est Venu, Côtes du Rhône AOC, Stephane Ogier

Grapes: 70% old Grenache, 30% Syrah and Mourvèdre

Food suitability: Suitable for lamb prepared with rosemary and pepper, spicy stews.

Suitable for keeping for 5... 8 years

Price: 13.00


Côte-Rôtie Mon Village 2020 Côte-Rôtie AOC

Grape: 100% Syrah

Storage: 10-15 years

Gift wine and storage wine.


Price: 49.00

Stephane Montez


White wine

Le Petit Viognier 2022 Domaine Stephane Montez

Grape: Viognier


Fresh wine with a strong and aromatic taste.

Suitable as an aperitif with grilled fish and goat cheese

The price is 22 euros


Les Hauts du Monteillet rouge 2021

Grape: Syrah

Food recommendation - rabbit, meat of smaller game, cheeses


A wine for syrah grape lovers. Soft and elegant Northern Rhône syrah.


Price 16.00



Stephane Ogier is definitely the rising star of the smaller producers and his Belle Helene is worth choosing for your portfolio at a price between 300 - 400 euros a bottle. The second is definitely Guigal's La La La series, where the price level is between 250-300 euros, depending on the vintage. After this trip, I will also be choosing one of Chave Hermitage and Jamet's Cote-Rotie. It's worth adding yourself to our newsletter list to take part in these opportunities!

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