Color me…pink?

The day has come—Valentine’s Day that is. The day of celebrating love, booked restaurants, expensive flowers, over-priced chocolate and…pink sparkling wine. Really? For a few years now I have wondered why when approaching February 14, wine merchants all over the country start advertising different expressions of sparkling rosé. Ok, Champagne I get because of the “celebration” element (frankly, any day is a great day for Champagne), but why PINK? After all, the heart is red, and so is the most popular color choice for roses on this day, so wouldn’t a red wine of some type be more appropriate? Hmm… What do I know about Valentine’s Day at all?

roses

         Vineyard roses at Tour du Bon © Molly Surbridge

Like all normal people, I turned to Google with my questions. Aside from a few interesting speculations about an early Christian saint, Valentinus, I learned that today is an official feast day in the Anglican and Lutheran Churches, and first became associated with romantic love in the Middle Ages. A confectionery company owned by a Russian immigrant introduced Valentine’s Day to the Japanese in 1936—women give chocolate to men on February 14 there. In Israel, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in August, and in Singapore people spend more money on this holiday than in any other country.

Still, nothing told me where the “pink sparkling” custom came from. One wine blog announced that, “nothing says love better than pink Champagne.” Because it “is very special and the bubbles excite the appetite—for food and love.” Another claimed: “Pretty pink wine can definitely enhance a romantic evening” but didn’t explain how or why (merely because of the color?). Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Champagne. If I were to choose a pink bubbly, my pick today would go to the new special rosé bottling from the ladies at J. Lassalle. But to limit yourself to just one type of wine seems silly. Here are some bottles I’ll be taking home tonight (home, because my husband and I vowed to never leave the house on the evening of February 14), and an explanation for each choice:

2011 Muscadet • André-Michel Brégeon (gold label) $16.95
It’s a perfect pairing with the world’s most delightful aphrodisiac—oysters! What a great way to start any feast.

2012 Mâcon Farges “Vieilles Vignes” • Henri Perrusset $19.95
I love this crisp Chardonnay with the Bay Area’s amazing Dungeness crab. And what luck, it’s still crab season, so why have anything else for your celebratory meal?

2012 Morgon • M. Lapierre $30.00
Lapierre’s Morgon, one of my all-time favorites, is so versatile, you can have it with virtually anything, including—don’t tell anyone you heard this from me—chocolate. Juicy and delicious, if this wine doesn’t leave you and your date making-out, I don’t know what will.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

oysters

                                                                       © Gail Skoff

 

February Newsletter: Cuvée Spéciale Rosé! The Lost Grapes of Corsica, 2012 Vieux Télégraphe PA

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

SOUTHERN RHÔNE RED SAMPLER

by Clark Z. Terry

The variety of red wine produced in the southern Rhône is a story of slopes and stones, with one common denominator—Grenache. The Rhône Valley is so wide it takes nearly an hour in the car to traverse. You’ll notice when driving across that there are many hills and plateaus located in the valley—great vineyards aren’t only planted on the sides, but nearly everywhere. The stones? You can hardly take a step in a vineyard without finding stones littering the soil or the galets roulés—large, rounded riverbed stones made famous by Châteauneuf but also found in Lirac and elsewhere. It’s a challenge to walk, let alone work, in the midst of these vines. But the vines no doubt work harder than anyone, and the vineyards are planted predominantly to Grenache with a handful of other grapes, like Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Carignan.

The proof, as we like to say, is in the bottle. The various combinations of slopes, stones, and grapes create nearly unlimited diversity. Unlimited is a lot of wine, so we’ve selected just six to present to you this month. They hail from the various corners of the southern Rhône, all represent different appellations, and some are to drink now (Beaumes-de-Venise, Mégaphone, Il Fait Soif) and some to drink in a few years (Lirac, Côtes du Vivarais). If you stash one away for a number of years, let it be Les Pallières, from Gigondas.

per bottle

2012 Beaumes-de-Venise • Domaine de Durban

$18.00

2012 Ventoux Rouge “Mégaphone” • Brunier

22.00

2011 Lirac “Le Classique” • Domaine du Joncier

24.00

2011 Côtes du Rhône “Il Fait Soif” • Maxime Laurent

27.00

2010 Côtes du Vivarais • Domaine Gallety

32.00

2010 Gigondas “Terrasse du Diable” • Les Pallières

49.00

Normally $172.00

(a 25% discount)

Special Sampler Price $129

VALUES FROM ITALY

by Dixon Brooke

2009 PAESAN • GUIDO PORRO

Nebbiolo and Barbera, the two very different yet wonderfully complementary grapes of the Langhe, combine forces here. Playful Barbera fruit and mouthwatering acidity support the spicy, floral tones and structure of the Nebbiolo to give you an ultra-traditional piemontese table wine from Serralunga d’Alba.

$24.00 per bottle $259.20 per case

2011 BANDINELLO • VILLA DI GEGGIANO

Now it is Sangiovese’s turn to impress in this always friendly, easygoing wine from the Chianti Classico zone. Smooth, fruit-driven, with plenty of Tuscan charm, this is fun to drink.

$20.00 per bottle $216.00 per case

2010 CÔTE ROTIE “LES ROSES”

BLENDED BY KERMIT LYNCH

by Clark Z. Terry

The magic of great Côte Rôtie does not come from its reputation for being a big, bombastic wine. In fact, what you’re looking for is a balance of the wild, meaty, earthy characteristics, with the graceful aromas of—like the name of this particular wine—roses. Do not be fooled. Syrah with restraint gives the most depth, complexity, and aging potential.

We are now in our third vintage of Les Roses, sourced this year from the lieux-dits Buffin, Brosse-Champin, and Fongeant. For those of you who have cellared a few, you’re in for a treat, as the 2008, though still young, is evolving beautifully. Add the 2010 to your collection—a true classic such as this is a rarity these days.

$70.00 per bottle $756.00 per case

January Newsletter: New Italian Discoveries, Languedoc Bargains, Loire and Burgundy

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

 RHÔNE CLASSICS

by Anthony Lynch

2012 CÔTES DU RHÔNE BLANC

“SUNFLOWER CUVÉE”

BLENDED BY KERMIT LYNCH

Our house Côtes-du-Rhône blanc continues to epitomize the category, and with class. Composed of Roussanne, Marsanne, and a dash of Clairette, the Sunflower cuvée conveys a luring perfume of apricot with a nectar-like trace of honey. These aromas warmly invite you in before the wine smoothly glides over your palate, flaunting a ravishing texture. An outlier from the land of big reds, this fine dry white is not to be missed. It is a Louis Barruol/Kermit Lynch collaboration.

$22.00 per bottle  $237.60 per case

2012 LE PIGEOULET ROUGE • VIGNOBLES BRUNIER

The Brunier bothers are known for their Vieux Télégraphe label, but this is the wine of theirs that I want to drink every day. This Grenache-dominated blend is the quintessential Southern red, marked by ample sunshine and the heavenly aromas that make a walk through the Provençal countryside a magical experience: lavender, rosemary, thyme, and sun-ripened wild blackberries. In 2012 the Pigeoulet is especially elegant, with tannins that are present but perfectly integrated into the supple, grapey fruit.

$18.00 per bottle  $194.40 per case

 LOIRE WHITES

by Anthony Lynch

2012 CHARDONNAY • ÉRIC CHEVALIER

Éric Chevalier trained at a domaine in Chablis before returning to run his family’s estate in the Loire. Perhaps that is why the Chardonnay he makes is always so crisp and taut. Vinified without any oak, it reminds me of a baby Chablis thanks to its liveliness and its bouquet of white flowers and fresh fruit. Like each of Éric’s wines, it’s a total steal.

$14.95 per bottle $161.46 per case


The vines of Éric Chevalier                  © Julia Issleib

2012 FIÉ GRIS • ÉRIC CHEVALIER

I’m a sucker for tasting unfamiliar and obscure grape varieties. Petit Courbu? Sure. Zierfandler? Bring it on. Fié Gris—which formerly thrived along France’s Atlantic coast before being largely replaced by its grassier and higher-yielding cousin, Sauvignon Blanc—represents another bizarre, rarely grown grape that is a must-try for any curious wine lover. Fié Gris is characterized by the zippy acidity that is typical in whites from this part of the Loire Valley. However, it brings an aromatic bouquet that is unlike any you have ever tasted: a hint of exotic fruit, wet stone, and what is unmistakably a note of jalapeño pepper. I recommend one bottle to get acclimated and a second to get creative in the kitchen.

$24.00 per bottle $259.20 per case

December Newsletter: Gifts for All, New Wine, Old Wine, Magnums & Dessert Wine Sale

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

 NEW WINE, OLD WINE 

Dear Fine Wine Drinking Public,

We share a passionate conviction that the finest examples from Italy and France are the most interesting, satisfying wines to be found, and in terms of diversity and value . . . no contest!! Our focus is selecting great producers, getting their treasures to you in perfect condition, and ceaselessly searching for new glitter to add to our portfolio. This year has been particularly transformative in terms of the latter. We are, of course, excited to share these new wines with you, and we can’t wait to unveil a few more early next year.

We also continue our efforts to unearth vintage treasures from the cellars of our producers, and while we may not have the deepest selection of old vintages compared to some merchants, we choose to source only direct from the grower. It is really a simple choice for us, because with fine wine, we believe that the only thing more important than the name of the grower is the provenance of the bottle. So, provenance guaranteed, impeccable storage and shipping conditions equal zero risk for you.

Feast your eyes on our December selection of vintage gems. You may never see these wines offered again, anywhere. Some of them were purchased from the European direct-from-domaine stocks of esteemed fellow importer Robert Chadderdon following his recent retirement from the wine and spirits business, and they wear his import strip.

Here’s to the small pleasures that can ornament the tree of life.

For fine wine,

Dixon Brooke and Kermit Lynch  

Top

 Old Wines 

Poggio di Sotto

From the greatest terroir in Montalcino, these vintages have a head start on their way to peak maturity.

per bottle

2006 Rosso di Montalcino

$85.00

2006 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva

247.00

2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva

220.00

2004 Brunello di Montalcino magnum

400.00

2001 Brunello di Montalcino

150.00

2000 Brunello di Montalcino

150.00

Maume

New allocations from Burgundy traditionalist Bertrand Maume. Pinot Noir with soul!

2009 Mazis-Chambertin

$212.00

2008 Bourgogne Rouge

29.00

2007 Gevrey-Chambertin “Lavaux Saint-Jacques”

108.00

2006 Gevrey-Chambertin “Champeaux”

89.00

2006 Gevrey-Chambertin

52.00

2001 Gevrey-Chambertin “En Pallud”

65.00

DOMAINE De Cherisey

From the high altitudes of the Côte d’Or just above Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault, the magical terroir of Blagny produces some of Burgundy’s most mesmerizing, long-lived wines.

2008 Puligny-Montrachet “Hameau de Blagny”

$87.00

2008 Meursault-Blagny “La Genelotte”

87.00

2007 Blagny Rouge “La Genelotte”

49.00

2004 Meursault-Blagny “La Genelotte”

90.00

2004 Blagny Rouge “La Genelotte”

69.00

1999 Puligny-Montrachet “Hameau de Blagny”

140.00

ChÂteau Gombaude-Guillot

Topflight aristocratic Pomerol grown organically and sold at a fraction of its true value. Our advice? Jump on it before they’re gone!

2006 Pomerol

$66.00

2001 Pomerol

76.00

2000 Pomerol

76.00

2000 Pomerol magnum

156.00

1998 Pomerol

76.00

1998 Pomerol magnum

170.00

1995 Pomerol magnum

170.00

1994 Pomerol magnum

131.00

ChÂteau d’Epiré

In the twenties and thirties, Epiré sold at the same price as Yquem. We won’t be shy about it—this is the ultimate in terms of Chenin Blanc from schist.

per bottle

2007 Savennières “Cuvée Spéciale”

$40.00

2005 Savennières Sec

35.00

2002 Savennières “Cuvée Spéciale”

45.00

1997 Savennières Sec

45.00

1991 Savennières “Cuvée Spéciale”

66.00

Bernard Faurie

The last of the Mohicans? Bernard Faurie, a lovely man, farms one-hundred-year-old vines on the Hermitage slope and produces majestic, terroir-driven wines that bring glory to this great appellation.

2007 Hermitage Rouge “Bessards/Méal”

$120.00

2007 Hermitage Rouge “Greffieux/Bessards”

105.00

2005 Hermitage Rouge “Greffieux/Bessards”

125.00

2004 Hermitage Rouge “Bessards/Méal”

125.00

MORE VINTAGE SELECTIONS

2007 Barolo • Bartolo Mascarello

$125.00

2006 Bandol Rouge • Domaine de Terrebrune

48.00

2005 Brunello di Montalcino • Salvioni

166.00

2004 Nuits-Saint-Georges “Les Chaignots” • Robert Chevillon

89.00

2001 Bandol Rouge • Domaine de Terrebrune

85.00

2001 Barolo • A. & G. Fantino

50.00

1996 Bourgueil “Les Perrières” • Catherine & Pierre Breton

77.00

 New Wines 

Albert Boxler

If you’ve got a good friend, give him or her a bottle of that 2008 Sélection de Grains Nobles. You’ll make a lasting impression.

per bottle

2011 Edelzwicker Réserve

$24.00

2011 Gewurztraminer Réserve

45.00

2011 Riesling Sommerberg Grand Cru

75.00

2011 Pinot Gris Brand Grand Cru

75.00

2008 Pinot Gris Sommerberg Grand Cru SGN

100.00

Bénédicte et Grégoire Hubau

The anti-Bordeaux Bordeaux. Bénédicte and Grégoire’s Château Moulin produces “natural” wines with an uncommon twist: longevity and precision.

2010 Canon Fronsac • Château Moulin

$28.00

2010 Fronsac Cuvée “Piverts” • Château Moulin

28.00*

*Unsulfured cuvée

André Perret

Here you’ll discover perfection from the northern Rhône. Can a perfectionist have soul? Oh, baby!

2011 Saint-Joseph Blanc

$38.00

2011 Condrieu “Chéry”

77.00

2011 Saint-Joseph Rouge

37.00

Manni Nössing

Pure as the driven snow: vino bianco from Italy’s northernmost wine region. Geographically, at least, Manni looks down upon the others.

2012 Kerner

$30.00

2012 Grüner Veltliner

30.00

Fattoria Moretto

Lambrusco (dry Italian sparkling red wine) like you’ve never experienced it! This is also the first discovery added to our portfolio by Mr. Anthony Lucien Lynch. Ask him and he’ll tell you all about it.

2012 Lambrusco Secco

$18.00

2012 Lambrusco Secco “Monovitigno”

24.00

Château Feuillet

Kermit imported a wine from the picturesque Valle d’Aosta back in the late seventies, and everyone said, “SO WHAT!” Don’t let that happen to Dixon Brooke, who turned up these two beauties.

2012 Valle d’Aosta “Torrette”

$24.00

2012 Valle d’Aosta “Petite Arvine”

28.00

clos Canarelli

Abbatucci and Canarelli, the cutting edge not only in Corsica—who do you think placed the rings around Saturn? And biodynamically, no less!

2012 Corse Figari Rosé

$35.00

2012 Corse Figari Blanc

47.00

2011 Corse Figari Rouge

43.00

2010 Carcaghjolu Neru

90.00

2010 Tarra d’Orasi Rouge

112.00

Giuseppe Quintarelli

The Maestro of the Veneto. But listen, Abbatucci, Canarelli, Quintarelli . . . Maybe you should drop by and pick up some wine for the holidays.

2012 Bianco Secco Cà del Merlo

$42.00

2004 Rosso Cà del Merlo

85.00

2003 Amabile del Cerè “Bandito” tenth

265.00

2001 Recioto della Valpolicella Classico tenth

185.00

PLUS, Cellar Selection: 2000 Amarone della Valpolicella, now taking requests. Wine arrives in mid-December!

Adventures, Celebrating 25 Years

Book-Cover200Twenty-five years after the original publication, Kermit revisits Adventures on the Wine Route. In this 25th Anniversary Edition, he looks back on how his business and the wine industry has changed since the 1980s. Kermit has brought the narrative up-to-date with an extended epilogue, delving into new trends: natural wine, the importance of sommeliers, and influence of the press; as well as reflecting on where the vignerons and domaines from the past have now ended up.

Today marks the release date of this new edition and we hope you find it as entertaining and informative as the first.

-Purchase from the source: (510) 524-1524

-Purchase on amazon.com

80 Kermit cellar door_360
Kermit at Richard Olney’s cellar, circa 1980 ©Gail Skoff

 

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 Kermit at his home in Bandol ©Luca Locatelli for The NY Times 

2013 Harvest Report, Part 3: The Loire

Mother Nature was not so kind to some growers in the Loire in 2013. Certain areas, most notably Vouvray, experienced severe episodes of devastating hail that all but destroyed many vineyards, inflicting damage that could be detrimental to future vintages as well as 2013. Fortunately, others emerged unscathed, some to the point of feeling quite optimistic about the year as a whole. As with many other regions in France, the first half of 2013 was rather bizarre with an unusually cold and damp Spring. Thierry and Christine Boucard, vignerons at Domaine de la Chanteleuserie—a true KLWM staple—described the unpredictable start to the growing season:

The 2013 season was characterized by capricious weather in Touraine. A cold winter with frost as well as a cold and rainy June with hail and coulure at flowering led to diminished yields at harvest. Fortunately, summer was hot and allowed the vines to progress well.

1vend_Boucard

 Boucard family hard at work

As the Boucards outline, the rocky start to 2013 was contrasted by ideal conditions as summer set in. Grapes reached the desirable sugar levels thanks to the heat of July and August, giving pristine ripe berries, the number one precursor to a great wine. “While we have never begun the harvest as late as we did this year, we finally achieved optimal ripeness and we are now picking healthy grapes,” states Emmanuel Delaille at Domaine du Salvard. “The presses are running, the juice is flowing, and the wine is beginning to ferment. We are already seeing good quality with very nice aromas.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 Team of brothers, Emmanuel and Thierry Delaille

Following the Loire downstream into the Pays Nantais, in the heart of Muscadet territory, Éric Chevalier is coming to similar conclusions, which he expresses with his trademark contagious enthusiasm:

Things are looking good for this vintage! The juice is PRETTY, and DELICOUS! These wines will certainly be more fresh and crisp than our Muscadets from 2012 or 2010. With our Chardonnay, we are…Mmmmmmm…in the same league as last year!

CHARDO3

 Chevalier’s healthy Chardonnay grapes

If Éric’s descriptions are making your mouth water, you’re not the only one. Try his delicious 2012s, which have just arrived in the shop in the meantime—we still have a whole year to wonder if 2013 can possibly be better. And nothing is determined yet, as Éric will be the first to tell you: “There is still much work to be done…but it is good work!”

CAB RGE le 13 10 2013-3

  Chevalier’s Cabernet Franc

To be continued…

November Newsletter: Pinot & Pineau, Beaujolais Nouveau, Due Out 11/12: New Edition of Adventures, Annual Champagne Sale

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

CHAMPAGNE SALE!

by Dixon Brooke

Champagne is one of the easiest things to forget when it comes to planning a personal cellar. It shouldn’t be forgotten, but almost always is. An aged bottle of vintage Champagne will become one of the most treasured bottles from your collection, especially since it will probably be used to celebrate a special occasion.

There is something in our annual Champagne sale for everyone, and we make it easy for you to stock up for all of your end-of-year party needs with authentic, estate-grown and -bottled Champagnes. But I want to bring special attention to the rare bottlings listed here, as these are, in my judgment, the most exciting part of this offer. If for no other reason, you almost never see Champagne this good sold at this deep a discount. Our November discount, before the holiday season, has become a KLWM tradition. At these prices, put away some great bottles that will improve tremendously with time. And why not stock up on our non-vintage Champagne for lesser occasions? There are many pretenders to the throne, but there is no substitute for Champagne.

orn1

2012 BEAUMES-DE-VENISE ROUGE

DOMAINE DE DURBAN

by Clark Z. Terry

The arrival of the Durban Beaumes-de-Venise Rouge is an annual source of excitement for me. The 2005 vintage was my first exposure to the wine, and I have managed to slowly drink a case over the past six years.

The 2012 Rouge promises the same prolonged pleasure that the 2005 did. It is rare to find a wine where the velvety texture, structure, and earthy Grenache fruit are in such perfect balance.

Certainly it begs the question: Is Kermit crazy to sell this for only $18? Luckily, the domaine offers it to us at an irresistable price.

$18.00 per bottle  $194.40 per case

2013 Harvest Report, Part 2: Bordeaux

We saw last week that the 2013 vintage has much potential in the south of France. We have also heard word from several of our producers in Bordeaux and it is with a sigh of relief that I can say the same: it’s looking good for 2013! With the exception of certain districts that fell victim to destructive hail, most of the Bordelais experienced a successful growing season with typical weather, though perhaps slightly cooler than the run of recent warm years. The vignerons we have heard from are happy with the quality of fruit they have picked and, unlike in the South, yields are for the most part in the normal range.

For Daniel and Valérie Alibrand, the harvest time is especially crucial as ideal conditions are necessary to produce the luscious nectar that is Domaine de l’Alliance’s Sauternes. With the potential for so many things to go wrong, it is a joy to hear Daniel’s preliminary assessment:

We began the harvest on Wednesday, September 25. We harvested the first round of Sauternes and had a great surprise: two barriques instead of the one we usually fill! Botrytis is everywhere. We are very satisfied so far: pretty fruit and good acidity. We’ll see…as they say, it’s not over ‘till it’s over. This year we had to constantly adapt, but that is the charm of our profession. Otherwise we would have chosen the factory.

Alliance_400Harvest at Domaine de l’Alliance

Hervé Dubourdieu, proprietor of Château Graville-Lacoste and Château Ducasse, shares Daniel’s faith in the vintage:

We picked for the dry whites one week late relative to last year. Our harvest dates are fairly typical for this decade. Conditions were good for ripening. I think we will have slightly higher acidity levels than last year. Yields are rather generous for us!

Xavier Piton of Château Belles-Graves had equally reassuring words:

The results are very encouraging, after lots of worrying. Yields are higher than expected, and above all ripeness is at the desired level, already showing a beautiful color and aromas of crushed strawberry, raspberry, and currants. Our authentic Pomerol Merlot!

Xavier’s thirst-inspiring words can only leave us to imagine the quality of 2013 Belles-Graves Lalande-de-Pomerol. While there is still a long way to go, we can at the very least be optimistic given his preliminary reports and the encouraging words of others from the regions. Although there is much to rejoice in for us, Xavier nonetheless stresses the importance of solidarity with his fellow vignerons: “Special thoughts to our colleagues in Entre-Deux-Mers and Bergerac, who were hit by hailstorms.”

To be continued…

2013 Harvest Report, Part 1: The South

As autumn rolls around, many of us begin to notice the leaves beginning to turn rust red and the weather taking its annual turn for the worse. In wine country all over the Northern Hemisphere, however, one thought dominates: harvest, the critical period in which a year’s worth of work is validated or erased; the climax of the grape-growing season. As our wine-growing friends abroad are now picking the final clusters from their respective vineyards, the quality of vintage 2013 is slowly coming into focus. Today’s harvest report will focus on the south of France: the Rhône, Languedoc, and Provence.

Vendanges 2013 Domaine Tempier400

 Harvest at Domaine Tempier

The growing season began with uncertainty as a cool, rainy spring slowed maturation considerably. These unusual conditions persisted through the beginning of summer, posing some concerns in the vineyard. “Frequent rainfall through mid-June allowed mildew to develop and we had to be very vigilant,” states Daniel Ravier, vigneron at Domaine Tempier. Fortunately, the summer heat finally kicked in and alleviated many a vigneron’s stress. Pierre Ravaille at Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup was especially relieved at the favorable conditions: “Sun and heat arrived in mid-June and summer was hot. The vines matured well without any water shortage.” Despite a late start, results seem positive across the board. Harvest took place without any major obstacles and initial assessments confirm a relatively good year, in spite of below average yields. Reynald Delille at Domaine de Terrebrune expresses his satisfaction as the harvest wraps up: “We are presently bringing in very nice Mourvèdre for the reds: good ripeness, small, dense clusters, and great quality of the skins. A very good year is shaping up, unfortunately with 15% less quantity.” Not too far north, in the southern Rhône, the verdict is a similar one. According to Henri Leydier at Domaine de Durban, “This vintage is unusual not for its quality, which should be quite good, but for its quantity: Grenache, the main variety in Côtes du Rhône, suffered coulure at flowering like never before. The result is a production cut in two! As we all know, a vigneron depends on weather and climate.”

Harvest 2013_Ermitage_320

 Harvest at Domaine de Durban

While it is too early to say how 2013 will compare to other recent years, first impressions foresee a favorable outcome. While quantity may be lower than usual in the South, we can eagerly await to taste the first 2013s with positive expectations. In the meantime, we’ll let those yeasts get to work and leave our vigneron friends to operate their magic in the cellars.

To be continued…

Vendanges 2013 Domaine Tempier2_400

 Domaine Tempier

 

October Newsletter: Coming this fall: New edition of Adventures On The Wine Route!

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

ITALIA

by Dixon Brooke

2012 PETITE ARVINE • CHÂTEAU FEUILLET

Petite Arvine is a white mountain grape that thrives on the high-altitude slopes that form the border between the Valle d’Aosta, Switzerland, and France. My favorite thing about it is the explosive fruit on the palate: once you dive in, it is like you are biting into a ripe peach, and this sensation coats and fills your mouth. The decomposed granite subsoil makes its presence felt on the finish.

$28.00 per bottle $302.40 per case

2012 PIGATO “CA DA RENA” • PUNTA CRENA

It is tough to beat Punta Crena’s Pigato as the ultimate wine to drink with anything and everything Italian. Tommaso Ruffino is incredibly gifted with the grape, and he coaxes the maximum out of the family vineyards: all his wines are high on the deliciousness scale, show great varietal character, and are incredibly consistent. Pigato in Liguria gives aromatic, elegant, fresh dry whites that are excellent with seafood and pretty much everything else.

$24.00 per bottle $259.20 per case

TOUR OF THE RHÔNE

by Dixon Brooke

2011 SAINT JOSEPH ROUGE • DOMAINE FAURY

Each year I spend several days with Lionel Faury, tasting nearly every barrel and cuve of his entire production, and then putting together custom blends for you. He has continued to make classic vins de terroir just as his father, Philippe, did so well. We always separate the Saint Joseph into two bottlings: the tannic, meaty Vieilles Vignes (from Joseph Panel’s old vineyards), and this bottling from the Faury holdings around La Ribaudy. It is an intensely aromatic, bright, granite-infused Syrah, an archetypal example of the far north of Saint Joseph. Delicious now, it will age and improve for five years or more.

$30.00 per bottle $324.00 per case

2011 LIRAC ROUGE “le classique”

DOMAINE DU JONCIER

Interestingly, this Lirac is grown on a plateau of reddish river stones that look almost identical to the stones at Sang des Cailloux, above. However, the wines are very different. Must be something underneath all those stones . . . Lirac, like Vacqueyras, is its own cru, although its vineyards are situated on the opposite side of the Rhône River. You have to work hard here to get noticed, and proprietor Marine Roussel has certainly been keen to that task. Organically produced and raised in cement tank, the Joncier Lirac delivers a lot of wine at this price point: rich, layered, complex, earthy, and meaty. Marine is every bit the lady, but she makes a very masculine wine, prime for barbecue season.

$24.00 per bottle $259.20 per case