I first tasted Anne and Anders’ wines back in 2018, having just started a new job in London. A dish of grilled lobster and macadamia nut needed a pairing. These flavours immediately brought me to a fleshy Chardonnay or rich Chenin Blanc, however a strikingly minimal bottle was pulled from the cellar. White wax, green glass and a back label marked ‘Oiseau de Mer’ was opened and decanted. This was a wine from 2015, made with Gewürztraminer grapes Anders purchased from the Bannwarth family in Alsace. The pairing worked, but it was the wine alone that fascinated me, having never tasted anything like it before. Rich and oily but with and incredible saline minerality and focus. As with all of their wines, it was brimming with energy and life.
Anders and Anne started out in their native Denmark, Anne a social worker and Anders a chef. Wanting to broaden his skills, he pursued a career serving wine, working at Noma as assistant sommelier and then as part of the opening teams of the monumental Manfreds and Relae. A few years went by and Anders began spending time making wine in France, alongside Jean Marc Brignot in the Jura and Giles Azzoni in the Ardèche, before purchasing his own vines in Valvignères. Combining winemaking and working in the restaurants in Copenhagen was becoming more and more difficult. Both Anne and Anders were becoming disillusioned with life in their respective careers and made the decision to move their family to Valvignères, a commune in the Ardèche.
Their wines come from their own vines in Valgrand, while also buying grapes from the Bannwarth family in Alsace and the Oustrics at Domaine du Mazel in Valvignères.
Besides the wines’ thought provoking depth and mesmerising flavours profiles, what makes this project particularly interesting is that Anne and Anders never repeat a cuvée. Each years new release brings completely new cuvées, new assemblages, some that have been in the making for years and some brand new. He describes himself as a “wine follower, not a winemaker”. There is a charming excitement and open mindedness to things not always being the same. He compares each year’s new cuvées to “having a conversation with someone you didn’t know before”. An extremely hands off approach is taken to winemaking. Vinification is compared to cooking, or seasoning food. In the lead up to harvest they are constantly in the vineyard, tasting grapes, looking for important elements such as bittnerness and acidity. The wines are rarely interfered with, one example of experimentation is “We Forget Too Easily” 2019, one of the wines we’ve just received. This started out as a white wine, a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. A decision to add some Carignan juice and later some destemmed Carignan grapes slowly turned the wine into a rosé and eventually a red.
The labels are simple, small and white, generally a label found on the back of the bottle, with black text for the title, their names and a few essential details. This all came about in the early days of winemaking, the pair hadn’t decided on an artist, however a call from the bank manager meant that they needed to start selling. They went ahead with the back label and haven’t gone back since. Each wine is a picture of a certain period of life, put as a message. The cuvée names vary from the very simple – Rdt (Raisins de Table), Ceci N’Est Pas Mon Chien or Let’s Go Disco, to more profound, often political statements Don’t Throw Plastic In The Ocean. Please.
We were fortunate enough to receive some bottles from five of this year’s new releases.
We’re really excited to have these wines available for you to drink in the bar. These will be joined occasionally by a limited number of cuvées from years gone by drawn from our personal cellar.