Aubert de Villaine, co-owner and director of Burgundy's famed Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, and Larry Hyde, of Hyde Vineyards in California, are teaming up to produce a Chardonnay and a Merlot-Cabernet blend from the Carneros district. The new venture will be called HdV, reflecting the partnership between the Hyde and de Villaine families.
"It is important to emphasize that this is not a joint venture between the Domaine and HdV, but a private project between my wife, myself and the Hyde family," said de Villaine. "This is a very small family venture, no more than 5,000 cases ultimately, based on the idea of making the best possible wines from the Hyde Vineyard."
De Villaine's wife, Pamela Fairbanks de Villaine, is Larry Hyde's first cousin. Both Hyde and Fairbanks are descendants of José de la Guerra, who was the son of a noble Spanish family and who settled in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1810 and became commander of the town's Spanish garrison. The de la Guerra family got involved in winemaking, at least as far back as 1876, and the new HdV wine label will bear the de la Guerra coat of arms to reflect that history.
Hyde Vineyard has not previously made its own wines, but it has a reputation for producing high-quality grapes -- including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir -- that many of its customers use to make vineyard-designated wines. "Most of my Chardonnay, for instance," said Larry Hyde, "goes to a limited number of small, high-end producers like Kistler, Patz & Hall and David Ramey."
At DRC, De Villaine oversees an estate that makes what is probably the world's most famous Chardonnay -- its rare Le Montrachet -- in addition to its Pinot Noirs: Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, Richebourg, Grands Echézeaux, Echézeaux and Romanée St.-Vivant.
For the HdV project, De Villaine chose a young winemaker from Sancerre, Jean-Laurent Vacheron, a graduate of the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon, because he wanted to maintain a thread of Burgundian ideology in HdV's winemaking and viticulture. Veteran California winemaker Zelma Long, a longtime friend of the de Villaines and Hydes, will serve as a consultant.
The first releases from the new HdV project, 1,600 cases of the Chardonnay and 700 cases of the Merlot-dominated red blend, both from the 2000 vintage, are slated for this September. Prices have not yet been set.
Check our recent ratings of Hyde vineyard-designated wines.
Learn more about Aubert de Villaine: