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Bibendum PLB bolsters US portfolio with four new wineries

Published:  07 March, 2016

The Bibendum PLB Group has announced the addition of four boutique US wineries to its portfolio ahead of the Go West tasting in London this week.

The agencies include Forge Cellars, a cool-climate winery in New York State, and three from California: Walter Hansel, La Follette and Renwood.

They will be available to the UK on-trade through Bibendum and to independent merchants through Walker & Wodehouse.

Forge Cellars sources grapes from across the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York and focuses exclusively on Pinot Noir and Riesling.

It is a collaboration between Louis Barruol, vigneron and proprietor of Château Saint Cosmé in Gigondas and US winemakers Rick Rainey and Justin Boyette.

Both the Walter Hansel Winery and La Follette Wines concentrate on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The Walter Hansel Winery is based in the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, California.

Founded in 1976 by Walter Hansel, who planted 257 Chardonnay vines to make wine for himself and his family, it became a commercial winery in 1996 under the management of Walter's son, Stephen.

La Follette Wines sources grapes from Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Mountain and Mendocino Ridge.

It is the creation of winemaker Greg La Follette, a leading US authority on Pinot Noir, whose career encompasses Beaulieu Vineyards, Yarra Ridge, Kendall-Jackson and Flowers Vineyard.

La Follette trained as a plant biologist and chemist, in particular studying the scientific components of mouth feel.

His innovative, sometimes experimental approach to winemaking includes listening to his wines as they mature in order to judge the right time to add sulphur dioxide.

The Renwood Winery is located in the Sierra foothills in northern California. Influential Italian winemaker Alberto Antonini acts as a consultant.

It focuses on producing Zinfandel from old, dry-farmed vines in one of California's oldest winemaking regions.

Winemaker Joe Shebl was selected by Wine Enthusiast as one of America's "Top 40 Under 40".

Andrew Shaw, buying director for the Bibendum PLB Group, said: ''With an increasing artisan supply base producing wines more aligned to the European palette, the demand for US wines has exploded in the UK on-trade and independent channels.

"The American dining scene has been booming in the UK over the past couple of years and we are now seeing the resurgence in American wine to complement this trend.

"The wines from Renwood, Forge Cellars, Walter Hansel and La Follette, offer great varietal breadth and quality.

"They have much in common, with their contemporary styles and by-hand production methods, but all offer something unique in terms of regional diversity, winemaking techniques and winery traditions."

The Bibendum PLB US portfolio currently includes Charles Smith Wines from Washington State and California's Delicato Family Vineyards.

The whole range will be exhibited at the The Institute of California's Go West tasting at London's QEII Centre on March 10.