Brian Elliott: five women who make exceptional wine

Scotland on Sunday's wine columnist Brian Elliott celebrates International Woman's Day by highlighting five women who make exceptional wine.

Published 8th Mar 2016
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Since today is International Woman’s Day, this week’s column pays homage to a quintet of ladies who use their own special brand of empathy with Mother Nature to make exceptional wine.

"Five women use their special empathy with Mother Nature to make exceptional wine"

We start with Argentina’s First Lady of Torrontés, Susana Balbo. Shrewdly applying her scientific background, she has played a crucial role in that variety’s meteoric rise from its former life as poor quality jug wine.

To experience the grape’s classic floral ripeness, tune into the red apple fruit of 2015 Faldeos Nevados Torrontés (£7.50 at The Wine Society) with its zesty prickle of lemon-based acidity and the suggestions of spice that support it.

Similarly, Melbourne’s Lynne Levin is a key player in the Loire winery near Tours where she and Glaswegian husband David produce outstanding, New World influenced sauvignon.

Lynne Levin. Picture: contributed

Lynne Levin. Picture: contributed

Perfumed freshness is apparent from the outset in 2011 Levin Sauvignon Blanc (£12.10 at L’Art du Vin, Dunfermline) with its ripe, white peach fruit and undercurrent of asparagus. Green apple and pink grapefruit acidity provides the necessary liveliness while a twist of slate adds complexity.

Glasgow was also home to Christine Kernohan, the wine maker at New Zealand’s lovely Gladstone Vineyard near Wellington. She has overseen the expansion into a 15,000 case a year business.

Kernohan’s 2014 Jealous Sisters Pinot Gris (£9.99 at Aitken’s of Dundee) has delightfully fresh, ripe melon and apple fruit with crisp, lime-centred acidity coupled with a mace and gravel-edged savoury substance.

My final wine today is the product of two hugely successful women at Champagne Duval-Leroy – chief winemaker Sandrine Logette-Jardin and the house’s supremo, Carol Duval-Leroy. One of the impressive wines they make for UK supermarkets is Sainsbury’s Blanc de Blanc Brut Champagne (£20 at Sainsbury’s) with its small, busy bubbles, energetic mousse and vibrant sherbet lemon acidity that underpins the crisp apple-centred fruit.


2014 Finest Nero D’Avola Sicily, 13.5 per cent
Seek out this full yet balanced Italian red to take advantage of Tesco’s decision to abandon half-price deals and convert parts of their Finest range into “everyday low-price” wines. Enjoy its damson, black cherry and blaeberry fruit with vanilla, plum stone and mint touches accompanied by modest tannins and a savoury edge.£6 at Tesco

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2013 Hilltop Pinot Gris Neszmely Hungary, 14 per cent
A new promotion started at Lidl on Thursday and contains this unusual white from a trend-setting modern winery in a region close to the Slovakian border. Beneath the wine’s fresh, red apple texture there is a combination of spices and a gentle underlying fruity sweetness that give the whole package an appealing roundedness.
£6.79 at Lidl

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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