La Dilettante

by Sarah Hernan

Catherine Breton took a circuitous path to becoming a winemaker. Though she was born into a winemaking family who has inhabited Vouvray for five generations, in her youth, neither wines nor vines interested her. Actually, she didn’t drink wine before she turned 25. She once told me she felt like the black sheep of her family. Catherine studied geography and accounting and was more interested in theater and literature than pruning technique or grape fermentation.

Over a casual Sunday family lunch, Catherine’s father nearly forced her to come down from her room to try a few older wines. Quite unexpectedly she loved all of them. Since that day she has trained her palate with wines from all over the world. After her wine epiphany she began to help her parents by presenting their wines at local wine fairs. This is where she met her husband Pierre Breton and where her passion and interest for wine grew.

In 1989 Catherine and Pierre bought 6 hectares of vines in Chinon and since then they have worked side by side. Although Pierre is the main winemaker for the domaine, in 2002, Catherine began making her own wine under a different label.

10-7-10-Harvesting-in-the-Clos-Senechal-1-Small

Returning to her roots, her first wine was a Vouvray, aptly named “La Dilettante,” or “the dabbler,” a word that fit her perfectly. Catherine did not stop with one bottling—there are now three in the Dilettante line.

The Vouvray Sec “La Dilettante,” made from 40-year old Chenin Blanc, expresses flinty aromas and reveals itself to be very versatile at table.

Breton_Vouvray_sec_14_hi_res

 

The Vouvray Pétillant “La Dilettante” is a méthode traditionnelle with a lively sparkle and beautiful minerality.

NV_vouvray.dilettante.brut.original

 

The Bourgueil “La Dilettante,” Catherine’s only red, is vinified using carbonic maceration and without sulfur. A French wine book described it as “Fresh and quaffable, people will be lining up to get more.”

Breton_dilettante_bourgueil_14_hi_res

 

Three different wines, with three distinctive personalities—like children, they each have individual characteristics while still reflecting their origins.

Determined, passionate, and hard-working, Catherine found her way to winemaking. Lucky for us, her dabbling is now focused in the cellar and she plans to stay there for the long-term.

CatherineBretonCellar

 

Available wines from Catherine Breton

per bottle

per case

Vouvray Brut “La Dilettante”

Catherine Breton >

$24.00

$259.20

2013 Vouvray Sec “La Dilettante”

Catherine Breton >

$23.00

$248.40

August Newsletter: Staff Selections!, 2013 Jobard PA, Vigneron de l’Année

The August Newsletter is now available.

Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

VINEYARD SALAD >

by Chris Santini

A good friend of mine who interned for several months at Domaine Barral recently described to me how Michelin two- and three-star chefs from all over France would regularly descend upon Didier Barral’s vineyards, armed with bags and knives, to walk the rows and harvest all kinds of rare greens and unusual herbs growing wild. Many of the harvested plants were so indigenous and so ancient that their names are long forgotten, while some of them have names in the regional Occitan dialect that have never been translated to modern French. The chefs know they are dealing with some of the healthiest and most vibrant soils of the Languedoc here, a self-sufficient farm that Didier and his family work endlessly to maintain. The Barrals are celebrated in many different circles, not only among the wine crowd but also among cattle and pig breeders for the quality of the ancient breeds they raise among their vines, pastures, and forests. Barral lets the chefs take home as much vineyard salad as they can cut, free of charge.

I swear I can smell some of those unique and  intensely perfumed greens and herbs in the 2012 Faugères, while the 2012 “Jadis” cuvée makes me think more of the black fruits and olives grown on the property. The 2012 “Valinière” shows the animal side of the domaine, giving allusions to smoked and cured meats and reminiscent of the homemade head cheese and smoked hams the family cures on site. The range is a peek at what wines might have tasted like back in the day when nearly all vine growers, all over France, made wine as just a single element of a multifaceted farm. Each of those elements would be imprinted with the farm’s terroir and the farmer’s personal touch. While France once teemed with growers like this, hardly any remain today. Didier Barral is our last producer to remain off the modern grid, with no cell phone, no email, and no computer. We hope he stays that way for a long time to come.

 

per bottle

per case

2012 Faugères

Domaine Léon Barral >

$35.00

$378.00

2012 Faugères “Jadis”

Domaine Léon Barral >

45.00

486.00

2012 Faugères “Valinière”

Domaine Léon Barral >

72.00

777.60

STAFF SELECTIONS >

by Steve Waters, Retail Manager

The beauty of selling wine is that it often entails telling a story. As salespeople, nothing helps build rapport better than describing a specific experience, whether it be from travels in France or Italy, or a memorable bottle served with friends and family. Personal wine adventures are a strong talking point! Our clients often do travel to Europe and entertain regularly, so the conversation is reinforced between both parties. It is a pleasure, once again, to present our sales staff to you. Let us tell you our stories and share our recommendations, and we’ll gladly imbibe in yours.

Back row: Adriel Taquechel, Dustin Soiseth, Steve Waters, Nile Mitchell
Front row: Alex Macy, Bryant Vallejo, Will Meinberg, Jennifer Oakes, Michael Butler

Will Meinberg

2014 RAISINS GAULOIS • M. LAPIERRE>

The Lapierre family is known for making some of the most serious wines of Beaujolais—but this is not one of them! Life can be stressful enough without having to worry about wine. So toss a slight chill on the bottle and unscrew the cap to enjoy the fresh fruit and cheerful essence of a wine that is intended to be shared with a lively crowd. I like to think that this wine and I share a common personality of joyfulness and whimsy. I suppose I do somewhat resemble the cartoon on the label. If you’re looking for the ultimate summer picnic wine, this is the one for you.

 

 

Adriel Taquechel

2013 CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET
BRUNO COLIN >

If ever there was a bargain world-class offering from Burgundy, this might be the champ. Bruno Colin may farm various premier cru parcels in Chassagne-Montrachet, yet this village wine embodies everything typical about the region’s terroir, which is filled with limestone and clay. It offers an alluring experience that reaches the intoxicating heights of premier cru–quality white Burgundy: decadent fruit with floral and spicy notes, as well as a round finish that is creamy and generous. For best results, lay this down and watch it blossom into a racy, divine creature that could easily outwit the most regal of higher-tiered Burgundy whites.

$69.00 per bottle $745.20 per case

Anthony Lynch

2013 CONDRIEU “CHÉRY” • ANDRÉ PERRET >

Legend has it that in the third century a.d. Emperor Probus issued a decree to uproot half of Gaul’s vineyards to combat overproduction within the Roman Empire. Yet he spared this special plot, his “coteau chéri” (darling hillside), based on the extraordinary nectar it produced. Today, Chéry’s legacy lives on: flaunting a sublime perfume, this voluptuous, refreshing, intricately woven masterpiece sets the bar at the summit for Northern Rhône whites. If you ever thought that Viognier could not age, hide away a few bottles of this Condrieu for ten years. The result—decadent, toasty, gloriously honeyed, yet bone-dry—is truly mind-blowing.

$82.00 per bottle $885.60 per case

Dustin Soiseth

2009 TERRANO • EDI KANTE >

Though new to me, Terrano is a variety with centuries of history on the Karst plateau in Italy and Slovenia. The grape is mentioned as far back as the fourteenth century, when vini terrani was offered to one Conte di Lozo, an ambassador of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. Lucky guy. Medium-bodied and intensely aromatic, this wine provides an abundance of red berries and lip-smacking acidity—hallmarks of table-ready reds from cooler climes. Edi Kante is not one to release a wine before its time, and he tames Terrano’s substantial tannins with three years of aging in old oak barrels and a couple more in bottle for good measure. So raise a glass like an emperor, benevolently ruling your kingdom (or dining room) with a good measure of Edi’s Terrano in your jewel-encrusted chalice (or chipped “#1 Mom” coffee mug).

$25.00 per bottle $270.00 per case

Jennifer Oakes

2013 SAVIGNY-LÈS-BEAUNE
“LES GRANDS PICOTINS”
PIERRE GUILLEMOT >

It might be second nature for some Pinot Noir collectors to go for the richest and most lush iteration, but I think there is always room for the brighter, lighter, and earthier Burgundy. Enter Les Grands Picotins from Pierre Guillemot. This cuvée is a lean, mean, (slightly green) fighting machine. Redolent with aromas of the pine forest, bound with cinnamon/clove/orange and smoky incense, this silky-textured wine has a ruby clarity, fine tannins, and a bright, zippy finish. Akin to Little Red Riding hood battling the wolf, this little beauty has the power to outwit the arguably more powerful and come out on top.

$36.00 per bottle $388.80 per case

Top

Bryant Vallejo

 

Clients often come into the shop looking for the perfect wine to go with an extravagant dish. We find ourselves enjoying the challenge and are eager to suggest the perfect pairing. It leads me to ask myself, “What would be my absolute ideal feast with the ideal wine”? Well, picture this . . .

On a lovely summer day, you stroll into the village of Le Brûlat in Bandol. As the salty wind envelops you, you amble along the garrigue-scented hills with aromas of lavender and thyme flowing in the air. You happen to stumble upon the picturesque Domaine de la Tour du Bon—a magical place that shelters a small farmhouse bed-and-breakfast where you feel like you immediately belong. You relax with a bottle of Tour du Bon Bandol rosé—a gentle but seductive wine. Aromas of grapefruit and herbes de provence shine through the glass, soft and spicy on the palate. What a delight it would be to pair this wine with paella de marisco at a leisurely lunch and soak in all the pure pleasure. Next, you take an afternoon walk to digest that amazing lunch. Head through the vineyards, mostly planted with Mourvèdre—the king variety of Bandol. The hot sun beats down and the vines convey a sense of strength and depth, helping you to truly understand this powerful grape. As the night creeps in and it starts to cool off, why not enjoy a glass or bottle of the classic Tour du Bon Bandol rouge—one of my favorite Bandols in the shop and a steal at this moderate price. This Bandol captures the essence of the Mediterranean. It has lush fruit with hints of rosemary, squid ink, and peppery meaty flavors. Why not pair it with its perfect counterpoint, spicy Moroccan lamb sausages, or a traditional Provençal dish like bouillabaisse?

Fortunately I live in the Bay Area, where this cuisine is easily accessible and I can make this dream come true. Someday, however, I dream of indulging in the real-life beauty and freedom the Tour du Bon estate has to offer.

per bottle

per case

2014 Bandol Rosé

Domaine de la Tour du Bon >

$30.00

$324.00

2012 Bandol Rouge

Domaine de la Tour du Bon >

36.00

388.80

Top

Steve Waters

2013 BOURGOGNE ROUGE
“EN MONTRE CUL”
RÉGIS BOUVIER >

According to my notes from a tasting trip to France a few years back, the vineyard where this Pinot Noir is grown is the last remaining one within the city limits of Dijon. Luckily, it’s situated on a steep hillside parcel that I hope will protect it from any more city sprawl. The wine is aged in old barrels for just the right amount of time to reveal a breathtaking purity of fruit. The depth and complexity you will enjoy from this Bourgogne rouge make it one of our very best values.

$27.00 per bottle $291.60 per case

Top

Michael Butler

2013 BIANCO DI CUSTOZA “MAEL”
CORTE GARDONI >

This past January I had the great pleasure of spending ten days in Venice. We mostly just walked around enjoying the Dorsoduro and Cannaregio sestiere (neighborhoods) and all of the great art and architecture to be found there. On evening walks we would drop into little wine bars, such as Cantinone già Schiavi on Fondamenta Nani, to snack on cicchetti and sip stony, refreshing Italian whites. One of those whites was this delightful wine by the Piccoli family, who farm the area just south of Lake Garda.

It is a blend of mostly Garganega (the main grape in Soave) and is dry, medium-bodied, and very versatile at the table. We found that it went especially well with salt cod and octopus, but it has the vibrant acidity and body to work well with salami or prosciutto.

$17.95 per bottle $193.86 per case

Veneto

© Michael Butler

 

Trois Châteaux from Kuentz-Bas

I have just returned from a two-week tasting trip to France that ended in the beautiful region of Alsace. I am in love with the region, the people, and the wines, and I hope all my purchases will continue to find appreciative homes in America! I am inspired by the work that young Samuel Tottoli is doing at the Kuentz-Bas estate, which was founded in Husseren-les-Châteaux in 1795. Husseren is perched high on a hill above the limestone vineyards that give it fame, and the châteaux that can still be seen on the hillside above it were strategic in the Middle Ages. Biodynamically farmed, the estate vineyards for these Trois Châteaux cuvées produce grapes that are harvested manually, fermented with wild yeasts, and aged in old foudres. They are fine examples of Alsace’s greatest triumph: dry white wines. – Dixon Brooke

2012 SYLVANER >
“TROIS CHÂTEAUX”

From a parcel of seventy-year-old vines on the slopes below Husseren, this is like your average Sylvaner in 3-D. The variety’s natural tendencies are in the spotlight—full, powerful, smoky, and viscous. It is tough to beat with smoked salmon or trout.

$24.00 per bottle $259.20 per case

2012 PINOT AUXERROIS
“TROIS CHÂTEAUX” >

Here is a very rare bird, Auxerrois bottled pure! It is most often blended with Pinot Blanc to produce Pinot d’Alsace or Crémant. Check out this bottle to see what the grape is capable of when old vines are worked biodynamically: rich, creamy, and complex.

$24.00 per bottle $259.20 per case

2012 RIESLING >
“TROIS CHÂTEAUX”

This bottling includes a goodly portion of young-vine grand cru fruit, and it tastes like it. Racy and pure, with a full arsenal of fruit and ample style, this is a complete Alsatian Riesling experience. It is delicious right now but will also age well if you so desire.

$29.00 per bottle $313.20 per case

 

Visit to Villa di Geggiano

Italy – how mystifying and mythologized of a country can it be, especially concerning its culinary and wine culture? When traveling in this lush Mediterranean nation, it is a land of extremes – things never seem to go as planned, and yet, the outcome for just about any situation seems to lead to incredible homemade regional food and outstanding wines. In the vast beautiful countryside of this proud country, our producers embody this way of life with open arms. Here is the first of many visits that I made during this trip. – Adriel Taquechel

When you drive to this villa, the first thing you may notice is that the many country roads leading to it—not far from the city of Siena—seem mesmerizingly repetitive, with only the beauty of the rustic countryside to provide distraction. Indeed, this setup is the perfect location for the stoic, regal Villa di Geggiano. The beautiful front gardens of the villa, which date back to the mid-19th century, can make any traveler stop in his or her tracks.

Geggiano_Entrance

 

We park the car and immediately find winemaker Alessandro Boscu Bianchi Bandinelli. To his left, a group of men are effortlessly bottling wine in a meditative, clockwork momentum. He informs us that he has been bottling all day and promises to show us around as soon as he finishes. To pass the time, he seats us in front of the gardens and brings us a nice bottle of the 2013 Bandinello Toscana along with a plate of homemade salumi, and recommends that we pick some fresh fava beans from the walled garden to pair with fresh pecorino. He later tells us that he has bottled his entire production for the year on that very day, a grand total of nine thousand bottles! “It’s a great feeling—the same one as fully raising a child,” he mentions. “But there’s always work to do the next day.”

 

Vino_Salumi

 

Alessandro is the ultimate host: full of stories, charismatic, and very funny. He is a highly engaging, proud individual who works extremely hard in the vineyards and cellar while his brother Andrea handles the villa’s business aspects locally and abroad.

 

Alessandro_Bandellini

 

Alessandro and his team make a genuine Chianti Classico. You won’t mistake it for a California Cabernet or an Argentine Mendoza. His meticulous care in maintaining the vines and tireless work in the cellar are essential to the soulful wines crafted at this stunning, down home, lived in, ancient masterpiece of a villa. The wine? Rustic and regal, unbelievably welcoming down to the final swallow.

 

Geggiano_Cellar

July Newsletter: Tempier P-A, Raiding the Cellar, Rosé Time Continues!

The July Newsletter is now available.

Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

Top

TEMPIER ROSÉ HAS ARRIVED . . .
AMONG OTHERS!

by Anthony Lynch

2014 BANDOL ROSÉ >
DOMAINE TEMPIER

I recently heard somebody say that “rosé season” had begun. Rosé season?! What a preposterous notion. Years of research on the subject have led me to conclude that the season for drinking rosé lasts no less than twelve months per year. I do admit, however, that one rosé season has indeed commenced: the season in which Domaine Tempier’s Bandol rosé is in stock—a euphoric period that, as many have learned the hard way, can be deceptively short. Tempier’s 2014 is another classic: full of sunshine yet tensely focused, serious yet whimsical. The nose recalls succulent ripe peach, citrus, thyme, and anise. This young beauty will only get better going into fall and beyond, so you’ll want to stock up to ensure your rosé season doesn’t end early.

$40.00 per bottle $432.00 per case

2014 GROLLEAU ROSÉ
ÉRIC CHEVALIER >

CHEVALIER_ROSE_NEWSLETTER

#drinkLoire #PaysNantais #Grolleau #bonedry #acidfordays #mineralbomb #quaffCity #unicornwine #roséalldamnday #metamorphicrock #nativeyeast #lutteraisonnée #getsomm #casediscount #Kermitknows

$14.95 per bottle $161.46 per case

2014 VIN DE CORSE
“ROSÉ DE PAULINE” >
DOMAINE DE MARQUILIANI

Anne Amalric’s family domaine, based on the mountains-meet-Mediterranean coast of eastern Corsica, is so modest in scale that satisfying the ever-growing demand will be no easy feat. On the bright side, she has supplemented her precious Rosé de Sciaccarellu with this bottling, an exotic blend of Syrah and Sciaccarellu with a perfumed splash of Vermentinu. Also feather-light on the palate with lovely delicate aromatics, Pauline is a bit rounder and fuller—relatively speaking. For ethereal, salty, mouthwatering Corsican pleasure, Marquiliani is where it’s at.

$28.00 per bottle $302.40 per case

BURGUNDY

by Dixon Brooke

2013 AUXEY-DURESSES BLANC
“LES HAUTÉS” >
JEAN-MARC VINCENT

This outstanding white Burgundy is the product of an overachieving terroir next to Meursault Vireuils and the overachieving wine-growing prowess of husband-wife team Jean-Marc and Anne-Marie Vincent. Wonderfully aromatic, with ample body and an energetic personality, it has a filtered-over-stones finish that is textbook upper-slope Meursault.

$53.00 per bottle $572.40 per case

2013 SAVIGNY AUX SERPENTIÈRES
1ER CRU>
PIERRE GUILLEMOT

For one of the world’s greatest red Burgundy values and a track record that would make many grand crus jealous, this flagship bottling from the Guillemot family of Savigny is a stalwart wine in the KLWM portfolio. The family proudly opened a 1947 during a recent visit, from two barrels their great-grandfather chose to bottle rather than sell for a new car. Someone gave him the sage advice that the wine would last longer than the car.

$46.00 per bottle $496.80 per case

2013 MARANGES 1ER CRU
“LA FUSSIÈRE” >
JEAN-CLAUDE REGNAUDOT ET FILS

For this brand-new arrival to the KLWM portfolio, let’s sing a hearty ban bourguignon to the Regnaudot family of Maranges and most especially toast their good health with a glass of their exquisite red Maranges. From ancient hillside Pinot vines farmed with great care and precision, the Regnaudots make deep, structured, powerhouse reds that taste much more expensive than they are. Maranges is the southernmost appellation in the Côte de Beaune, southwest of Santenay, and its reds have a long history of overachieving.

$32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case

Paris 2015

by Kermit Lynch

Again, this year I urge our readers who are going to Paris for several days or weeks to research finding an apartment rather than a hotel. For one thing, you can enjoy shopping for your own cooking.

Remarkable vegetables? Google Joël Thiébault and frequent his street market stand. His lettuces are the best ever, his carrots barely resemble the taste of the carrots we’re used to, and I never tired of them. Prepare his products simply as you desire—they speak for themselves.

For meat products, go to Hugo Desnoyer in the 14th, or the only butcher on the block-long rue du Nil (same street as Frenchie’s three petite restaurants), where I bought an early spring lamb shoulder that I salted and peppered and thymed—lots of dried thyme—then simply roasted in the oven. Wow! Also, their baked and smoked hams . . . I never, ever imagined ham could be so good.

Dining out, the best food I had was at Frenchie Wine Bar. I was having issues with a herniated disk, so I ate standing up at a high table with my pal from Gros ’Noré. They were playing some James Brown cuts I’d somehow never heard, good cuts, so, bad back and all, I found myself bopping in place because of the irresistible beat. Roll over Beethoven, dig these rhythm and blues. Frenchie has opened a hotel room–sized diner-style joint as well that serves excellent fish and chips. He also offers bacon/tomato sandwiches and hot dogs. Neither place takes reservations.

Other satisfying meals were at Septime, Clamato, and Abri. All can be googled. Reserve well in advance!

One problem at the new hip restos in Paris (and more and more are popping up): instead of being grateful for their success, some take on a snotty attitude. Also, the so-called natural wine lists—you grow tired of the same producers on wine lists time and again. I’ll take some credit for pioneering natural wines, starting way back with Jules Chauvet and Marcel Lapierre, for example, but how some winemakers have convinced anybody that they are more natural than thou—I, for one, know better. Ask winemakers today if they make natural wines and they all say yes.

If you are not on a tight budget, go to the Michelin-starred Carré des Feuillants. The wine list is beyond belief, filled with old vintages from great domaines at surprisingly low prices. Arrive early enough to spend time surveying page after page of temptation.

My advice: rent an apartment and enjoy the exploding gastronomic scene in Paris.

 Joël Thiébault’s vegetables  © Gail Skoff

The Fraternity of Pic Saint Loup

by Sarah Hernan

Our guest today is Pierre Ravaille, one of the three Ravaille brothers from the Languedoc domaine Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup. Kermit first met the Ravaille family about 15 years ago. He was struck by the almost pre-historic stone house, farm, and cellar, as well as their private wine collection (which includes some of the greatest wines of France). As Kermit says, “We also, it turned out, liked to grill outdoors with a good bottle and good conversation.” The relationship has continued solidly ever since.

Tell us more about your story; what is the history of the domaine?
“The domaine Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup has been in our family for ages. The first records of the family in the Languedoc date back to the revolution. Vine growing was always a part of the domaine but at the beginning it was mostly raising sheep.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 10.54.38 PM

During the 1960s, while the Languedoc was well known for terrifically high yields, our father had a broad vision—he wanted to focus on quality instead of quantity and he started planting Grenache and Syrah.

In 1983 he decided to stop working with sheep to dedicate himself to the vines. He still kept taking the grapes to the cooperative cellar of Pic Saint Loup created in 1951 by his father.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 10.53.23 PM
Three brothers working together—how does this collaboration work?
“Unlike what people might think about families working together, we consider ourselves lucky.
In 1992 my brothers and I decided to vinify our own wine and stopped taking the grapes to the cooperative cellar of Pic Saint Loup. This is the beginning of a wonderful story.

Xavier works in the vineyards, Jean-Marc takes care of the administration, and I am in charge of the vinification, shipping, and sales.

1999 was a big turning point for the domaine; we decided to work the vineyards using only biodynamic practices. It took about 5 years to start seeing the first results. Today the domaine has both organic and biodynamic certification.”

3Frères350

What would be the best word to describe your philosophy on winemaking, and why?
“The best word to describe our philosophy would be “precision,” because it is a point of honor to be as refined as possible, whether it is in the vineyard or in the cellar.“

What are your projects for the future?
“Twenty-three years since our collaboration began, we are still here, stronger than ever and with amazing ambitions.
We have two main goals for the future. First, we would like to convert all our vineyards to ‘sélection massale.’

We frequently visit our vigneron friends in different regions, taste wines from various parcels, and choose cuttings from the vines that produce our favorite wines. In February of each year, we retrieve the vine cuttings and integrate them into our own vineyards, thus ensuring greater diversity in our vineyards.

For our Syrah, we chose vines from the northern Rhône; for Mourvèdre, we went to Bandol; for Grenache, we went to the southern Rhône, and we also used our own Grenache selection from the Gaucelm plot (which has 85 year-old vines rooted in a soil of white clay and round stones).

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 11.01.49 PM

Our second aim is to develop the terroir of Cazevieille, a hard, red clay soil at almost 1,400 feet above sea level. The terroir of Cazevieille is the highest in Pic Saint Loup; it produces concentrated wines with great freshness and balance.”

Available wines from Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup:

2014 Pic Saint Loup Rosé
$16.00 per bottle $172.80 per case

2013 Languedoc Blanc “Cuvée Sainte Agnès’’
$24.00 per bottle $259.20 per case

2013 Pic Saint Loup Rouge “Tour de Pierres’’
$18.00 per bottle $194.40 per case

2013 Pic Saint Loup Rouge “Cuvée Sainte Agnès”
$25.00 per bottle $270 per case

June Newsletter: Quintarelli, Rosé Time!, It’s Happening in Paris

The June Newsletter is now available.
Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

ROSÉ TIME—FINALLY! >

by Dixon Brooke

Strikes at the port of Oakland—something we haven’t been accustomed to on this side of the pond—delayed our annual releases of freshly bottled rosé direct from mainland France and Corsica. We struggle to remember the last time we weren’t able to slake your thirst with a diverse selection like this in May. In this unusual year we hope not to repeat, we present them in time for the first days of summer.

2014 BEAUJOLAIS villages ROSÉ >
CHÂTEAU THIVIN

Any wine from Château Thivin always has a bit of a serious side. For Beaujolais, this makes the property stand out a bit. The joy and deliciousness are still there, but those impressions are accompanied by such class and character in their red wines that you feel obligated to sit up a little straighter in your chair. With this absolutely carefree Gamay rosé, the Geoffray family has decided to give in completely to the concept of pure, unadulterated pleasure.

$18.95 per bottle $204.66 per case

2014 ROSÉ DE SCIACCARELLU
DOMAINE DE MARQUILIANI >

Every year we have a tug-of-war with proprietor and vigneronne Anne Amalric for our supply of her delightfully pale, aromatic vin gris. How much must she absolutely keep on the island to satisfy her compatriots? Put it this way: you are much more likely to be able to enjoy this beauty here in the United States than as a tourist in Corsica—if you act quickly, that is.

$28.00 per bottle $302.40 per case

2014 LANGUEDOC ROSÉ
CHÂTEAU DE LASCAUX >

I love Lascaux’s rosé for its consistency. Every year their delicious southern blend of Cinsault, Syrah, and Grenache delivers on our high expectations for what southern French rosé should be, honed over time with Bandol as a reference point. With this charmer’s fresh aromas of stone fruit and garrigue, generously underlain by freshness and herbal complexity, Lascaux’s limestone terroir delivers yet again.

$17.00 per bottle $183.60 per case

VALUE OF THE MONTH

by Dixon Brooke

2013 VALTÈNESI “LA BOTTE PIENA” >
LA BASIA

When estate owner Giacomo Tincani visited our Berkeley store earlier this year, he had a wonderful analogy to share with the retail sales team. He likened his Valtènesi to a combination of a mountain wine and a Mediterranean wine. Indeed, the vineyards on the western slopes of Lake Garda are planted in glacial deposits that were carried down from the Dolomites farther north. The warm breezes sweeping from the south across the lake encourage the growth of olive and fruit trees, not to mention vines. La Basia’s Valtènesi rosso, made principally from the native Groppello grape, possesses simultaneously the stony, mineral-driven freshness of a mountain wine and the soft, herb-scented plushness of a Mediterranean wine, all presented in a seamless and delicious experience. This is definitely a wonderful friend to have at table.

$16.00 per bottle $172.80 per case

NEW ARRIVALS
2012 CHARLES JOGUET

by Anthony Lynch

The 2012 vintage in Chinon could be called a “vigneron’s vintage”: from a grower’s point of view, it proved quite challenging, requiring constant vigilance and hard work in the vines to overcome the hurdles thrown by Mother Nature. Such trying vintages are the ones that differentiate the best from the rest, and when tasting 2012s from Charles Joguet, there is no question as to which camp this historic domaine belongs.

Kevin Fontaine, who currently vinifies Joguet’s wines under the watchful eye of the retired Charles, has crafted a classic, timeless range of Chinons in 2012. The wines come in at a proper 12.5 percent alcohol, echoing a style of yesteryear, not driven by luscious fruit and ripeness but rather featuring freshness, definition, and balance as primary attributes. Flavors are not obvious: nuance reigns, with terroir-specific aromas emerging with time, expressed transparently through the lens of the Cabernet Franc grape. Today we offer the domaine’s top three cuvées—recommended to the amateur and the collector alike, these wines reflect the work of man in concert with the fortuity of Nature, with a wink to the past and plenty of promise for the future.

2012 Chinon “Les Varennes du Grand Clos” $36.00 >

Premier cru pedigree for this tightly knit, limestone-born Chinon. The word finesse comes to mind. Subtle perfume waiting to blossom; lean and delicate with fine, elegant tannins providing backbone and focus.

2012 Chinon “Clos de la Dioterie” $52.00 >

Dioterie spotlights the domaine’s oldest vines, seventy to eighty years of age on a chalky slope. It is correspondingly deeper, denser, thicker, with significant extract—séveux, the French would say, as if the vine’s sap had flowed to the grapes to give extra concentration. Certainly a very long ager.

2012 Chinon “Clos de Chêne Vert” $49.00 >

Another grand cru–worthy site, which gives a wine of serious cellaring potential. Black fruit, clove, and forest suggestions enveloped by rich, velvety tannins.

MIXED CASES OF THESE WINES
RECEIVE 20% OFF

The Intriguing Wines of Edi Kante

by Dixon Brooke

Contadino, vignaiolo, artista: all-around Renaissance man Edi Kante is as much of an enigma as the brilliant wines that he ekes from the rugged Carso hills in the extremes of northeastern Italy’s “Adriatic Baltic” zone. This little slice of the world—where the beautiful coastal town of Trieste hugs borders with Slovenia and Croatia, and impossibly rocky bluffs rise toward the forest—is fittingly as mysterious and diverse as the Kante winery itself.

Following in his father’s footsteps, in the 1980s Edi began working in the vineyards and quickly made his mark on the family property. The three-story cellar he carved out of Carso bedrock in which to age his wines is the stuff of legend. It’s all about the stone: the terreno of Carso, a rugged limestone plateau in the hills above Trieste, is the defining common denominator in Kante’s wines. They are distinguished by a shared thread of chalky, at times austere, minerality, maritime freshness, fleshiness, smooth textures that lack hard edges, and awesomely singular presentation of grape variety. In an increasingly homogenized universe, it is refreshing to encounter such a unique vision. From the vineyard to the unconventional techniques in the cellar to the hand-painted labels on the bottles, Kante meticulously controls every step of the production process and follows the beat of his own drum, producing (mostly) white wines that are patiently made, aged to perfection, and released when he deems them ready. We feel it is our duty to bring this Friulian master’s wines the attention and care they so richly deserve.

2012 Venezia Giulia Vitovska $35.00  >

Soft, ethereal, elegant interpretation of this indigenous Adriatic grape—serve with minimally prepared, wild and raw sea creatures.

2012 Venezia Giulia Malvasia $35.00  >

The Malvasia Istriana strain grown here, named after the Istrian peninsula of Croatia, is a far cry from the Malvasia of other parts of Italy. Like any Kante wine, it flourishes with some air, and the ripe fruit will tighten up into a wiry, briny, Muscadet-like seafood wine.

2012 Venezia Giulia Sauvignon $35.00  >

You have never tasted Sauvignon quite like this. Restrained and classy, it will be a distinct change from the explosive gooseberry creations you are probably used to. Different, not necessarily better (you be the judge).

2012 Venezia Giulia Chardonnay $35.00  >

You’ll recognize the grape, not the terroir. This cool, stony, poised glass of Chardonnay will blossom into something very special but is already delicious.

2005 Venezia Giulia Vitovska Selezione $54.00  >

Every time I taste this chameleon, it changes: most recently it expressed Riesling-like petrol notes. Aged to perfection in bottle in Kante’s icy cellars, this white is ready to sing with a lobster, a whole baked sole, or whatever your pleasure.

2006 Venezia Giulia Chardonnay “La Bora di Kante” $54.00 >

You will have fun opening this alongside much more expensive white Burgundies. Kante isolates his best barrels in great years and ages them for an extended period in tank and bottle before releasing them separately. Showy and still very young.

Spumante Rosato “Dosaggio Zero $35.00  >

This pure Pinot Noir made in the Champagne method and aged in the Kante cellars is a delicate flower—very pretty, aromatic, and racy. There are very few sparkling rosatos of this quality in Italia.

Spumante Metodo Classico “Dosaggio Zero” $35.00  >

A blend of Chardonnay and Malvasia Istriana, bottled with zero dosage. It is dry, chalky, and just the right combination of fleshy and lean. Serious sparkling wine.

May Newsletter: 2013 Lucien Boillot & Fils P-A, The Latest Finds from Friuli and Chianti, New Beginnings Sampler

The May Newsletter is now available.
Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

PRE-ARRIVAL OFFER

2013 DOMAINE LUCIEN

BOILLOT & FILS

by Dixon Brooke

In Burgundy, 2013 was another year in which Mother Nature reduced the size of the crop without consulting the growers. Hail was a big factor in the Côte de Beaune, much like it was in 2012, albeit slightly less dramatic (except at Savigny-lès-Beaune). In the Côte de Nuits, 2013 was a bit less kind than 2012. A difficult flowering diminished crop size, then adverse summer weather pushed maturity into one of the latest harvests on record over the past several decades. Those who waited long enough to allow the fruit to properly ripen and beat the late-season storms were handsomely rewarded. Growers like Pierre Boillot, with a plethora of ancient vines that naturally produce small, thick-skinned berry clusters, were favored.

Tasting through the epic terroir lineup in barrel at the Boillot cellars in Gevrey-Chambertin in December 2014, I was struck by the usual feeling of being in the presence of an incredible range of traditional, aristocratic, balanced, refined, delicious Pinot Noirs—each a kaleidoscope into its specific terroir, each exhibiting great potential for the ages, each leaving one to imagine the pleasure to be had at table. Pierre Boillot’s wife, Sophie, was on hand to show us the way with an expertly roasted chicken and a bottle of 2008 Cherbaudes post-tasting. You’ll never regret laying down a few cases of Burgundian gold.

per case

2013 Gevrey-Chambertin

$636.00

2013 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Evocelles”

768.00

2013 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Corbeaux”

936.00

2013 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “La Perrière”

936.00

2013 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Cherbaudes”

1,104.00

2013 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Les Pruliers”

1,104.00

2013 Volnay 1er Cru “Les Brouillards”

792.00

2013 Volnay 1er Cru “Les Angles”

828.00

2013 Volnay 1er Cru “Les Caillerets”

960.00

2013 Pommard 1er Cru “Les Fremiers”

936.00

2013 Pommard 1er Cru “Les Croix Noires”

936.00

Pre-arrival terms: Half-payment due with order; balance due upon arrival.

NEW BEGINNINGS SAMPLER >

by Jennifer Oakes

Most years I would be headed out of town for a spring getaway, admiring bright flowers or exploring farmers’ markets. This year, however, I’m focused on my recent purchase of a new (i.e., used) house and I’m worrying about sewer cleanouts, paint rollers, and missing shingles.

But once all the patching, painting, and pruning are done, I’ll finally have room to garden, and to have friends and colleagues over for a leisurely Sunday brunch, perhaps bribing them with a magnum or two to help with the weeding. I’m probably not alone in needing a bit of spring-cleaning help, either. But absent an easily enticed group of friends, you might have to buckle down and do it yourself. Ah, but consider a lively glass of sparkling Petit Royal while you transplant those tender lettuces; a bright, peppy rosé before reorganizing the garage; or a lush, juicy red while painting the fence. I encourage you to mine this sampler to enhance your spring bounty, and know that when the trowel and rake need to come out, you have my sympathies. But hard work has its rewards—at least one of them should be good wine.

per bottle

2014 Corbières Rosé “Gris de Gris” • Fontsainte

$14.95

2014 Languedoc Blanc • Château de Lascaux

17.00

2012 Pinot Blanc • Kuentz-Bas

17.95

2012 Jurançon Sec • Domaine Bru-Baché

18.00

2013 Quincy • Domaine Trotereau

19.95

Petit Royal Brut • Lambert de Seyssel

19.00

2013 Moscato d’Asti • Elvio Tintero

12.00

2013 Pays d’Oc Rouge • Château Fontanès

14.00

2013 Beaujolais • Domaine Dupeuble

14.95

2013 Dolcetto d’Alba “Vigna L’Pari” • G. Porro

19.95

2011 Eloro Nero d’Avola “Spaccaforno” • Riofavara

22.00

2011 Côtes du Vivarais Rouge • A. Gallety

29.00

Special Sampler Price

$164 (a 25% discount)

Jennifer Oakes’s favorite toy as a baby was an eggbeater, and after a formal culinary school education and running a Southern California restaurant for almost a decade, she’s found her happy place here at Kermit Lynch.