Sylvain’s Carignan

AT DOMAINE D’AUPILHAC

by Chris Santini

I’ll never forget a dinner in Corsica one night a few years ago with the venerated vigneron Antoine Arena in attendance, plus a pompous (yet also venerated, albeit by a different crowd) French wine critic. The critic, who had seemingly never much muddied his boots in vines or cellars, wanted to make it clear nonetheless that he was the all-knowing authority and spouted all kinds of sweepingly broad generalizations on all the subjects of interest and debate these days in the wine world. As he spoke, most of us just rolled our eyes and let him carry on. The breaking point, however, was when he proclaimed, “There is no good wine to be made with pure Carignan, period! C’est impossible!” I saw Antoine Arena wince, give pause, look the critic straight in the eye like a fed-up Clint Eastwood, and tell him, “You wouldn’t have said that had you ever bothered to taste Sylvain Fadat’s Carignan.” I wanted to jump up and yell, “BOOOOM!” while high-fiving Antoine, but I figured it might be inappropriate. The critic huffed a bit under his breath, but the case was closed, and he thought twice before yapping again. He knew that Antoine spends a lot of time with wine-growing buddies throughout France, and that there’s plenty of mud under his boots, so when Antoine stands up for a vigneron, you take heed.

Sylvain Fadat has had to face constant denigration and discouragement from critics who claim that Carignan has no place in the Languedoc. Since the beginning, Sylvain has tirelessly defended Carignan as the “origin, history, and essence of the region.” Regardless, the local authorities refuse to grant the wine appellation status because he doesn’t blend it with so-called “superior” grapes. But for those who’ve tasted it—whether young with its dark, brambly fruit and licorice, or aged with more smoke and complexity—there isn’t even a debate. It’s as true and authentic as it comes, filled with the taste of the land, a small slice of Languedoc called “Aupilhac” put in a bottle. His first vintage, 1989, is still drinking beautifully right now, so we don’t know just how far it can go. Thankfully, many young growers have begun to follow his lead and are planting and bottling pure Carignan. Critics, take note!

2012 MONT BAUDILE ROUGE “LE CARIGNAN”

DOMAINE D’AUPILHAC >

$36.00 per bottle $388.80 per case

Where Beaujolais Meets Carignan

by Sarah Hernan

If I said “whole cluster fermentation,” what would be your first thought?
Fruit? Freshness? Beaujolais? Bravo! But this post is not about Beaujolais. Let me give you another clue. Old vine Carignan, Grenache, Macabou, and Terret.

Southern Rhône? Closer—Languedoc-Roussillon!

Featured at one of our recent weekly staff tastings were the new arrivals from Corbières producer Maxime Magnon. His three wines were without any hesitation, the staff’s picks of the night.

Maxime is a young producer, established in the Languedoc, between Perpignan and Narbonne. He belongs to a new generation of Languedoc vignerons who are trying to protect their terroirs and older vineyards from being overlooked.

Maxime sells his handcrafted wines from the Corbières and the Vin de Pays de la Vallée du Paradis appellations.

MagnonMasetVignes_kk_400

The almost completely unknown vineyards from the Vin de Pays de la Vallée du Paradis are situated on the border between Languedoc and Roussillon. It is a stunning valley close to the sea, comprised of schist, basalt, and sandstone. After one sip of his cuvée “La Démarrante,” a blend of Carignan and Cinsault, the tone is set for something gourmand, fresh, deliciously fruity, with a hint of wildness.

If you are used to the common Corbières style, over-ripe and over-rugged, you are going to be stunned by Maxime’s Corbières. The Corbières “Rozeta,” a blend of Carignan, Grenache Gris, Macabou, and Terret, all harvested and fermented together, is a wave of delicate minerality, bright acidity, and beautiful tannins.

His third red, the Corbières “Campagnès,” comes from a single vineyard of hundred-year-old Carignan. The most cellar-worthy of his bottlings, it has exquisite notes of cherry and blackberry fruit with incredible finesse for the south.

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Now you might be thinking, what was that story about the whole cluster fermentation?

Maxime’s mentor is Jean Foillard, one of the classiest vignerons anywhere. Maxime was inspired to import Foillard’s methods to the south of France with spectacular results.

Old vines, great terroir, an inspiring mentor, and an intense focus on perfection have been Maxime’s secret to success so far. The results are dazzling—deep, fruit-driven wines with the perfect balance of tannins and a natural acidity. One single sip of Maxime’s wines will wake up your taste buds, please your palate, and bring a smile on our grumpiest day.

The only cloud on the horizon is the tiny amount of quantity available. This is your chance to taste Maxime’s little paradise before it vanishes in someone else glass.

Magnon_bottles_400

Please email sales@kermitlynch.com or call 510-524-1524 to inquire for availability of wines.

March Newsletter: The Quiet Lion of Alsace, Comtesse de Chérisey P-A, Coastal Sampler, Sylvain’s Carignan

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

LANGHE NEBBIOLO

by Dixon Brooke

2013 LANGHE NEBBIOLO “CAMILU” • GUIDO PORRO >

Porro of Serralunga makes a Nebbiolo that is easily confused with Barolo—a little too easily. I think I’ve said too much already. I guess the thing that gives it away is the extra fruitiness, the lack of a hard edge. Don’t expect light or quaffable when you uncork this beauty. Welcome to the Langhe.

$26.00 per bottle $280.80 per case

2009 BAROLO BUSSIA “CASCINA DARDI”

A. & G. FANTINO >

I’ve talked to many passionate wine aficionados over the years about the tendency of Italian reds to have more of a bitter edginess than their French counterparts. A slight bitterness is actually often a compliment when it comes to Italian cuisine and wine—think of those little shots of espresso. I’ve highlighted this 2009 Barolo for its complete lack of bitterness—a bit of a surprise, particularly for a Barolo. In fact, in the finesse category it will give a French Burgundy a run for its money. I’ve probably consumed a case of it by now, yet I still cannot believe what the Fantino brothers accomplished with their beautiful 2009. It has to be tasted to be believed, and you will want to revisit it multiple times to make sure you weren’t dreaming. It is as sumptuous and silky a Barolo as you are ever likely to taste, while not a bit flabby or overdone. The ripe Nebbiolo fruit is generous and abundant. We have plenty of tannic, tightly wound Baroli that smell of tar and roses, and we love them all. This one stands out for its sheer balance and refinement and the immediate pleasure it offers. Don’t miss trying it on—see how it fits.

$55.00 per bottle $594.00 per case

ESOTERIC SPARKLERS

by Anthony Lynch

BUGEY-CERDON “LA CUEILLE” • PATRICK BOTTEX >

Here is one likely scenario should you choose to open a bottle of Patrick Bottex’s seductive deep pink, effervescent, palate-tickling Bugey:

1. Your date is strangely entranced by all your stories and even giggles at your lame jokes.

2. She invites you back to her place for another glass of Bugey.

3. The next morning, she brings you breakfast in bed, naturally washed down with some cold Bugey.

4. You marry. The wedding is toasted with a ceremonial glass of Bugey.

5. On your deathbed, you share one final bottle of Bugey. You think back to how it all began, so grateful for the wine that made your life worth living. You experience feelings of life satisfaction and self-fulfillment.

$23.00 per bottle $248.40 per case

2013 PETTIROSSO ALLEGRO • PUNTA CRENA >

At Punta Crena on northern Italy’s Mediterranean coast, the only way to do things is the way they’ve been done for hundreds of years. That means working exclusively with local varietals, thus preserving Liguria’s rich viticultural heritage. This light, endlessly sippable bubbly rosato is a blend of Rossesse and Crovino. With its bright, fruity aroma, carefree sparkle, and crisp, dry finish, it is an ideal candidate for a picnic, for the beach, or simply to whet your palate before bigger things to come.

$19.95 per bottle $215.46 per case

PETIT ROYAL • LAMBERT DE SEYSSEL >

The village of Seyssel, in the French Alps, has a history of viticulture dating back centuries, having built a reputation for floral-scented charmers from the local grapes, Molette and Altesse. Produced in the méthode traditionnelle and aged for two years sur latte, the Petit Royal is unequaled in the world of sparkling wine: alpine flowers, dried fruit, wildflower honey, and a toasty, yeasty note give this value sparkler an utterly delightful aromatic richness and complexity. Serve it with various salty toasts to kick off your next dinner party, or pop one open to liven up a night at home with a big bowl of mac and cheese.

$19.00 per bottle $205.20 per case

Vibrant Wines from a Remote Terroir

Drive to Irouléguy and you will find yourself in one of France’s smallest wine appellations, as well as one of its most remote and intriguing. This is Basque country, in the heart of the Pyrenees, and it feels drastically removed from the rest of France due to its unique culture and landscape. Just north of the Spanish border and thirty miles from the Atlantic coast, these mountains create a very distinctive terroir. The vineyards, planted on slopes that reach vertigo-inducing gradients, soak up plenty of southern sun, moderated by the humid, cooling influences of mountain air and the nearby ocean.

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It takes a great vigneron to make a grand terroir speak, and Michel and Thérèse Riouspeyrous are perfect for the job. Strong advocates of organic and biodynamic agriculture, they craft incredibly vibrant wines that genuinely express their Basque origins. While produced in minute quantities, they represent some of the most exciting, singular wines being made in France—wines that tell a story about a land and a people.

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While most Irouléguy is red, its rare whites are well worth seeking out. Michel and Thérèse’s “Hegoxuri” bottling (pronounced eggo-shoo-ree, Basque for White of the South) is an excellent starting point, delivering nerve and minerality along with aromas of ripe lemon, white flowers, and green almond. A blend of Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, and Petit Courbu, this white comes from three distinct terroirs: sandstone, schist, and a rare rock of volcanic origin known as ophite, rich in serpentine and magnesium. The Riouspeyrous have recently begun to bottle a selection from each terroir separately so as to highlight the effects of the different soil types. These whites are fermented with native yeasts in wood and aged for a year in large foudres, then aged for another 18 months in bottle. The result is a tour de force that delivers more than one could imagine from this remote mountain appellation. Rich and powerful yet completely electric, showing energy, tonicity, and an intense mineral foundation, these whites are not to be missed. Delicious now, their potential to improve with age will astound anyone willing to try.

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The domaine’s red wines, composed of Tannat, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, also represent a unique expression of this terroir. Black in color, earthy, and laden with dark fruit and spice, these wines balance grippy tannin with fresh acidity. They are bottled unfined and unfiltered to retain all their purity and flesh. The Irouléguy rouge bottling, raised in cement vats, is tremendously bright with a modest alcohol level, while “Haitza” is bigger game, a barrel-age titan that will stand the test of time. These are serious wines unlike anything else out there and are a must-try for any curious wine drinker. Eskerriska!

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Please email sales@kermitlynch.com or call 510-524-1524 to inquire for availability of wines.

2013 IROULÉGUY BLANC “HEGOXURI” $46.00 per bottle
60% Gros Manseng, 35% Petit Manseng, 5% Petit Courbu

2012 IROULÉGUY BLANC “PANTXURI” $60.00 per bottle
60% Gros Manseng, 40% Petit Manseng

2012 IROULÉGUY BLANC “SCHISTES” $60.00 per bottle
60% Gros Manseng, 35% Petit Manseng, 5% Petit Courbu

2012 IROULÉGUY ROUGE $30.00 per bottle
66% Tannat, 17% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon

2011 IROULÉGUY ROUGE “HAITZA” $46.00 per bottle
70% Tannat, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon

arrextea postcard photo

Farewell to Mark

After more than eight years on staff here at KLWM, our colleague and friend Mark Congero is leaving us, and moving his family to Hawaii. Mark built a name for himself here as our resident food expert. In the retail shop, on a daily basis he drew upon his years of professional work in the front and back of fine restaurants. When a customer would stump one of us with a request for a good wine pairing for an upcoming dinner, Mark was always quick to find a logical and innovative option. For the staff, he was the go-to for advice on our own cooking questions and through his samplers and the recipes that accompanied them he became a resource to all our customers. He fielded dozens of phone calls each month specifically about his recipes from inquisitive customers who had purchased one of his samplers. During his tenure, Mark wrote 19 of his “Seasonal” samplers that included in total around 100 recipes. He was also an occasional contributor to the blog—here are the posts the he wrote for us.

http://kermitlynch.com/blog/2012/03/16/crock-pot-fridays/
http://kermitlynch.com/blog/2010/03/10/a-corky-bastille-day/
http://kermitlynch.com/blog/2009/12/10/winter-produce/
http://kermitlynch.com/blog/2009/08/18/spaghetti-with-basil-pesto-heirloom-tomatoes/

Below you’ll find Mark’s final sampler, which is featured in this month’s newsletter. Included in the carton you’ll find 8 pages of Mark’s favorite recipes from past samplers. Grab a sampler soon as you only have two weeks left to call him up to seek his wine and food expertise!

Farewell Sampler >

by Mark Congero

Mark_Congero_250Folks, it has been a great run here at KLWM, but after eight years, I am moving on. I am, along with my wife and daughter, headed to Maui. Island life awaits: warm sun, tropical breezes, and delicious wine . . . well, two outta three ain’t bad! I have had a lot of fun writing my seasonal samplers, and I hope that you all have enjoyed them as well. It has been my pleasure, truly, to taste and then write about so many great wines, and a joy to find recipes to pair with them. Whether the theme was a Provençal summer or an Italian winter or preaching about the virtues of local, sustainable, organic food, my goal was to make you hungry and thirsty and, if you tried the recipes, satisfied!

My time here means a lot to me. I will remember it fondly and I will miss all my colleagues and the great client relationships, but most of all I am going to miss the wine! But who knows—there may be some adventures on the KLWM wine route still to come.

Please enjoy my Farewell Sampler. In the carton you’ll find some of the best recipes from past samplers, and (as always) you’ll find a mouthwatering selection of wines, including a few of my all-time favorites.

Bon appétit and aloha!

per bottle

Clairette de Die Brut • Domaine Achard-Vincent

$25.00

2013 Muscadet • Michel Brégeon

17.95

2013 Edelzwicker • Meyer-Fonné

18.00

2013 Petit Chablis • Roland Lavantureux

22.00

2013 Pigato “Vigneto Ca da Rena” • Punta Crena

27.00

2013 Bourgueil “Alouettes” • Chanteleuserie

16.00

2012 Languedoc Rouge • Château de Lascaux

17.00

2013 Dolcetto d’Alba “La Costa” • Piero Benevelli

17.00

2013 Vaucluse Rouge “Le Pigeoulet en Provence”

Frédéric et Daniel Brunier

18.00

2011 Lussac St. Emilion “Les Griottes” • Bellevue

19.95

2012 Marsannay Rouge “Les Longeroies” • Régis Bouvier

34.00

2009 Bandol Rouge • Domaine de Terrebrune

36.00

Normally $267.90

Special Sampler Price

$199 (a 25% discount)

February Newsletter: 2013 Vieux Télégraphe PA, Mark’s Farewell Sampler, Cellar-worthy Selections

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

Farewell Sampler >

by Mark Congero

Mark_Congero_250Folks, it has been a great run here at KLWM, but after eight years, I am moving on. I am, along with my wife and daughter, headed to Maui. Island life awaits: warm sun, tropical breezes, and delicious wine . . . well, two outta three ain’t bad! I have had a lot of fun writing my seasonal samplers, and I hope that you all have enjoyed them as well. It has been my pleasure, truly, to taste and then write about so many great wines, and a joy to find recipes to pair with them. Whether the theme was a Provençal summer or an Italian winter or preaching about the virtues of local, sustainable, organic food, my goal was to make you hungry and thirsty and, if you tried the recipes, satisfied!

My time here means a lot to me. I will remember it fondly and I will miss all my colleagues and the great client relationships, but most of all I am going to miss the wine! But who knows—there may be some adventures on the KLWM wine route still to come.

Please enjoy my Farewell Sampler. In the carton you’ll find some of the best recipes from past samplers, and (as always) you’ll find a mouthwatering selection of wines, including a few of my all-time favorites.

Bon appétit and aloha!

per bottle

Clairette de Die Brut • Domaine Achard-Vincent

$25.00

2013 Muscadet • Michel Brégeon

17.95

2013 Edelzwicker • Meyer-Fonné

18.00

2013 Petit Chablis • Roland Lavantureux

22.00

2013 Pigato “Vigneto Ca da Rena” • Punta Crena

27.00

2013 Bourgueil “Alouettes” • Chanteleuserie

16.00

2012 Languedoc Rouge • Château de Lascaux

17.00

2013 Dolcetto d’Alba “La Costa” • Piero Benevelli

17.00

2013 Vaucluse Rouge “Le Pigeoulet en Provence”

Frédéric et Daniel Brunier

18.00

2011 Lussac St. Emilion “Les Griottes” • Bellevue

19.95

2012 Marsannay Rouge “Les Longeroies”

Régis Bouvier

34.00

2009 Bandol Rouge • Domaine de Terrebrune

36.00

Normally $267.90

Special Sampler Price

$199 (a 25% discount)

SÜDTIROL

by Anthony Lynch

2013 GRÜNER VELTLINER • MANNI NÖSSING >

Welcome to the Valle Isarco, Italy’s northernmost wine district before the border with Austria, a country celebrated for its fine Grüner Veltliners. Yet Manni Nössing’s Veltliner, grown at 700 meters above sea level, could give many an Austrian wine a run for its money. This mountain man prefers a high-acid style, which does not preclude this clean, racy, mineral-packed white from expressing elegant fruit. A passage in neutral acacia barrels polishes the edges of this pristine Dolomite creation.

$30.00 per bottle $324.00 per case

2013 KERNER • MANNI NÖSSING >

From the first sip I ever took of Nössing’s Kerner, I was immediately captivated by this white’s exotic perfume and screaming acidity. It screamed, Steep vineyards high in the Alps! Impeccable vinification! Minerals galore! Try Nössing’s 2013, recently arrived in our shop, to taste this exceptional rendition of a rare grape. It features a nuanced tropical fragrance with important weight and complexity, underpinned by the stony nerve one would expect from this mountainous terrain.

$30.00 per bottle $324.00 per case

2011 VOGLAR • PETER DIPOLI >

This mountain white does not taste like any other Sauvignon Blanc on Earth. Beautifully defined, it shows pretty hints of ripe grapefruit and candied lemon. Yet the cutting Dolomite minerality takes over any overt fruitiness, giving great structure to complement a subtle creaminess. Graceful, balanced, and of ample weight, this is serious high-altitude Sauvignon that can be enjoyed now and for years to come.

$32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case

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 Peter Dipoli’s Voglar vineyards, 600 meters above sea level © Anthony Lynch

The Struggle of the Languedoc

by Chris Santini

Hard to imagine but true, Gaddafi once sent a team of Libyan messengers deep in the hills of the Languedoc to meet with a group of angry and exasperated vignerons. The year was 1973, and a century of boiling tensions between these growers and the omnipotent local négociants had culminated in gunfights with local police. The négociants had amassed fortunes by importing boat tankers full of Algerian wine, mixing it with local wine and unsavory additives, calling it “Languedoc,” and then sending it up by rail to Paris to supply the working masses with their daily four liters of liquid strength. Gaddafi’s offer to these growers was unlimited armament and training camps in the desert in exchange for the group declaring war on the French government and launching a revolution. The growers promptly declined and sent the Libyans home. This wasn’t about revolution; it was about reclaiming the wines of the Languedoc. Still to this day, the battle rages on: a shadowy group called CRAV, armed with axes and hunting rifles, regularly sabotages oil-refinery-sized tanks of manipulated “wine.” They fight for the Languedoc that was once synonymous for stony terroir, garrigue-infused air, and a distinct Mediterranean soul. True Languedoc is a wonderful thing, yet the name is still a broad cover for far too many cheap, industrial, and at times fraudulent wines of international ilk that continue to harm its reputation and make it difficult for honest growers to make an honest living. We can do our part by drinking our share of real Languedoc.

Pic Saint Loup

Pic Saint Loup

A good place to start is the Lascaux Languedoc rouge, fresh and full, an incredible value of pure, approachable limestone-grown organic juice. Then tackle the La Roque Pic Saint Loup rouge, an herbal, spicy, biodynamic wine that is a rare southern French wine to show minerality before fruit. And finally, save the Mas Champart terroir-driven Causse du Bousquet for a special meal. It’s a deep, juicy, long-aging wine from the pioneers of Saint-Chinian. As angry protesters once shouted in the streets of Montpellier back in 1907, “Vive le vin naturel! Mort aux fraudeurs!”

WINES MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE:

2012 Languedoc Rouge • Château de Lascaux >

2012 Pic Saint Loup Rouge • Château La Roque >

2012 Saint-Chinian Rouge “Causse du Bousquet” • Mas Champart >

January Newsletter: Bordeaux Trembles, Lapierre Morgon, Value of The Month, Italian Crowd-Pleasers

The January newsletter is now available.
Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

BENCHMARK BEAUJOLAIS

by Jane Berg

2013 MORGON • M. & C. LAPIERRE

Among the things I love most about living in France is what the French call the apéritif dînatoire. A proper translation doesn’t exist, though the concept is straightforward enough: A gathering of friends over an abundance of wine, charcuterie, and fromage. The ambiance is casual and spirited, and the wines—nicknamed les vins de soif—are those meant to be drunk with a healthy thirst and zero pretension. The king of wines for such occasions is without contest Lapierre’s classic Morgon. Veteran Beaujolais drinkers know what I mean, while newcomers will catch on immediately upon draining their first glass. A word to the wise: You won’t want to run out! For the real experience, pair with a slab of pork rillettes, slices of plump saucisson, and spoonfuls of soft Saint-Marcellin. À votre santé!

$32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case

Camille and Mathieu Lapierre       © Romain Renoux

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A TRIO OF GRANDs VINs BLANCS

by Dixon Brooke

2011 VOUVRAY “LE PORTAIL” • CHAMPALOU

The Champalous produce this wine from a walled-in clos around their home on the limestone plateau above the town of Vouvray. It is a dry Chenin Blanc fermented and aged in oak (rare in Vouvray these days!) for 12 to 18 months and then aged in bottle for another year or more before being released. Portail is a tale of two characters: smooth, opulent fruit cascades across the palate in layers, while a chalky streak tightens up the finish and leaves you refreshed and coming back for more. Its versatility with cuisine is one of its most exciting qualities, and it is a great cellar candidate as well.

$38.00 per bottle $410.40 per case

2013 CHIGNIN-BERGERON “LES TERRASSES”

ANDRÉ ET MICHEL QUENARD

I learned during my last visit that Michel’s father André still insists on pruning the vines on these terraces perched on the steep slopes all by himself. Nobody else is allowed to take sécateur to vine on this hallowed ground. André is now in his eighties. These terraces are home to some of the Quenards’ most prized Roussanne vines. These vines, firmly rooted in mountain limestone, produce an intriguing, delicious, and noble white that ingeniously marries the honeyed, apricot richness of Roussanne with alpine freshness.

$33.00 per bottle $356.40 per case

2012 RIESLING GRAND CRU “BRAND”

ALBERT BOXLER

Boxler’s Riesling Brand is an imposing presence—bone-dry, serious, grandiose. I just tasted the recently bottled 2013 with Jean Boxler at the winery and it, too, is cut from the same cloth (or stone). The grand cru Brand is composed of granite, and Boxler’s parcel is in the center of the rather steep slope, the historic center. The style is masculine and powerful, with a very direct personality. It is both fine-grained and big-boned. I expect it to flesh out over time, so those who are willing to be patient with it will be rewarded handsomely.

$79.00 per bottle $853.20 per case

Journal of a Harvester

by Sarah Hernan

Since the 2014 harvest is complete in France and Italy, you may have read reports from the different producers giving their first impressions about the new vintage. Yet we rarely consider what harvest is like from a grape picker’s point of view.

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Harvest 2014 at Domaine du Salvard, Loire

As wine tourism becomes more popular year after year, certain vineyards offer their customers a chance to participate in the harvest: one or several days working as a grape picker, experiencing the life of a vigneron. This sounds pretty exciting and the formula is generally very successful.

But harvest is not always as enjoyable as the wine tourism publicity makes it out to be.

Anybody who has been a harvester at least one time in his life—and I don’t mean just for one or two days, but during a whole harvesting season—will agree with me when I say that the exercise is no pleasure cruise.

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Harvest 2014 at Domaine d’Aupilhac, Languedoc

In France, harvest jobs are often carried out by people who work in the vineyard all year long, but most of the time students, backpackers, or temporary workers make up the crew.

During the harvest season, the weather is unpredictable. Mother Nature likes to give the vignerons and their staff a hard time. The harvester has to wear the perfect equipment to overcome either blazing heat, or torrents of water. In a single day you can experience the four seasons, crawling in the mud in the morning and then baking like a steak on the grill in the afternoon.

In addition to the weather, the vineyard’s topography could be a nightmare. Steep slopes and huge stones turn a simple walk into an obstacle course. In the northern Rhône Valley, for example, some plots are so steep that the harvesters are hired based on their climbing skills as they have to pick the grapes while tied to a rope.

However, this description is not complete, as it misses the most important element of harvest: the human aspect. The atmosphere during harvest is one of my best memories. In spite of the hard work, joy and good humor are always there. Songs, jokes, and laughter are the perfect fuel to keep going day after day. Depending on where you are working, you might even have the chance to be fed by the producer’s family and enjoy a delicious and generous meal.

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Catherine Breton during harvest 2014, Loire

While the grapes are fermenting in the cellars, post-harvest feasts can begin. They are unforgettable experiences, totally worth the tiresome weeks of picking. Post-harvest feasts also mark the beginning of the long wait to taste the new vintage and enjoy the fruit of your hard labor.

If, like me, patience is not your middle name, I invite you to try the new wines that have arrived in the shop. I am sure these delightful treats will be very helpful to make your waiting much more bearable.

MANNI Nossing harvest_400

Harvest 2014 at Manni Nössing, Alto Adige

A Morning with Peter Dipoli

Peter Dipoli represents one of the most recent additions to our portfolio, and what an honor it is to work with these singular wines from such an unbelievably beautiful place. Just south of Bolzano in northern Italy’s Alto Adige, Peter’s vineyards blend right in to the breathtaking landscape of the Dolomites. A native of the region, he studied the land intensely in a search for great vineyards, ultimately settling on high-altitude sites flanking the Adige Valley to craft his one-of-a-kind wines. A recent visit with Peter shed some light on this fascinating terroir and the making of some of Northern Italy’s most compelling bottlings.

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Alto Adige possesses a unique climate, with influences from both the Mediterranean to the south and the Alps to the north. It is probably the only place in the world where one can observe cypresses, olive trees, palm trees, and snowy peaks in the same frame.

vineyards_sideways_400

High above the valley floor, Peter’s vines benefit from cool nights and a long ripening season. “Iugum” is produced from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines in clay and limestone soils, in one of the region’s warmer subzones.

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The “Voglar” bottling is made from these Sauvignon Blanc vines, planted on steep limestone slopes at a spectacular 600 meters elevation.

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Peter’s white, “Voglar”, is aged for eight months in these large acacia botti.

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Cabernet Sauvignon for 2014 Iugum completing fermentation.

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“Iugum” is aged for one year in small- and medium-sized barrels and an additional year in bottle before release.

DB&Dipoli_400

Peter Dipoli (left)  with Dixon Brooke of KLWM.

 

2010 Voglar | Available online >

2009 Iugum | Available online >