To keep you up to date on the 1999 harvest, we'll be checking in regularly with winemakers from Napa Valley, Bordeaux and Burgundy for an insider's view of the vineyards. You'll get the first peek at 1999 grape quality, share the excitement as the grape trucks roll in, agonize over the weather and listen in on the decisions that go into making great wine. Providing us with updates along the way will be Bryan Del Bondio and Michael Beaulac of Markham Vineyards in Napa Valley, Jacques Lardiere of Maison Louis Jadot in Burgundy, and Paul Pontallier of Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux.
Founded in 1977, this Napa Valley winery is a leading producer of Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Bryan Del Bondio has been with the St. Helena-based winery since its beginning and remains in charge even though the original owner, Bruce Markham, sold it in 1988 to Mercian Corp., a Japanese company. Winemaker Michael Beaulac came on board in 1997 to oversee the Markham varietal and reserve wines, as well as its second label, Glass Mountain Quarry. Markham has an annual production of about 300,000 cases, which also includes Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel.
For more history on Markham, read In the Merlot Groove.
Though not the biggest negociant firm in Burgundy, Maison Louis Jadot sells about 4.8 million bottles each year in the United States -- roughly one-fifth of all the Burgundy bought in this country. The Beaune-based firm is owned by the same American family that owns Kobrand, a New York-based importer.
Longtime technical director Jacques Lardiere has his hands full. In some vintages, Jadot makes wine from as many as 140 different appellations -- from grands crus to humble Bourgognes -- and its total annual production is about 575,000 cases. The firm owns some 220 acres of vineyards in the Cote d'Or and Beaujolais, oversees the cultivation of another 500 acres owned by others and buys grapes from numerous growers.
For more on Jadot, read Americans in Burgundy.
Located in the Margaux commune, this famed chateau -- one of the four first-growths in the original 1855 classification -- turns out some of Bordeaux's most powerful and graceful wines. Corinne Mentzelopoulos, whose family purchased the estate in 1977, oversees Margaux along with technical director Paul Pontallier, whose services as a consulting winemaker are in demand worldwide. The 650-acre estate consists of the grand neoclassical chateau, built in the early 1800s, and 190 acres of vineyards, planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In addition to its red grand vin, Margaux produces a second red wine, Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux, and a white, Pavillon Blanc, from Sauvignon Blanc.