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

 

1390566_10151772005893264_1222345741_n
 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

September Newsletter: Consider the Glass, 2011 Maume P-A, New Quintarelli, Southwestern Gems

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

2012 BEAUJOLAIS

LIMITED QUANTITY ALERT

by Katya Karagadayeva

Despite the challenges that 2012 posed in Beaujolais—there was frost, there was hail, and there was rain—the talent of our producers and a late ripening season blessed us with another spectacular, elegant vintage. One problem—there is very little of it to go around!

2012 JULIÉNAS “BEAUVERNAY” • DOMAINE CHIGNARD

We are excited to introduce a new wine from our beloved Fleurie producer, Domaine Chignard, and to add another grand cru to our Beaujolais collection. Juliénas, located in the far north of the region, is known for wines with backbone, and the Beauvernay is no exception. It comes from a granite hillside vineyard with sixty-year-old vines and exhibits a beautiful aroma and finesse—a true Chignard classic. Fans of Chignard’s Fleurie must not miss this new arrival.

$24.00 per bottle $259.20 per case

CHRISTOPHE BUISSON

RISING STAR OF SAINT-ROMAIN

by Steve Waters

If ever there was an up-and-coming producer everyone should check out, Christophe Buisson has earned my vote. He is a perfectionist who makes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with purity and finesse, mining the stony, limestone slopes of Saint-Romain. Kermit told me that he noticed the potential of Saint-Romain back in the late seventies. He recalls urging Jean-François Coche to acquire some vines there.

If you haven’t tasted Christophe’s pleasure-filled wines, these new arrivals are going to convince you: he’s a producer worth following and his prices are more than reasonable . . . for the moment.

2011 SAINT-ROMAIN BLANC “SOUS LE CHÂTEAU”

This is a single-vineyard Chardonnay that would probably be classified as a premier cru over the hill in Meursault or Chassagne-Montrachet. Freshness and a distinct minerality draw your nose into the glass, and the broad flavors and rich texture will linger in your mouth for minutes. I clocked it!

$40.00 per bottle $432.00 per case

2011 SAINT-ROMAIN ROUGE “SOUS LE CHÂTEAU”

From the same vineyard as above but an opportunity to see how Pinot Noir tastes from the limestone and clay soils of Sous le Château. Brimming with expressive fruit, here is a great example of what Christophe can create in a young red. I once overheard Aubert de Villaine call a Pinot Noir sexy, so I’ll do the same for this lovely beast.

$39.00 per bottle $421.20 per case

The Resurgence of the Languedoc

 In our retail shop, any salesperson will be quick to point to the Languedoc section for some of the best values in the store. Having long been the source of the vast majority of France’s bulk wine, the Languedoc nonetheless produces wines of quality that are consequently undervalued. We are not ones to complain: nothing makes us happier than a juicy, sunny, southern blend at a great price.

However, this abundance of well-priced, everyday wines means that the Languedoc’s true potential as a producer of serious wines is often overlooked. Recently, the region has experienced a revival in which some of the area’s best terroirs are being recognized by ambitious young winemakers. Indeed, the Languedoc—an enormous region encompassing a range of diverse terrains—is home to an array of very favorable grape-growing areas, from the limestone slopes around Pic Saint Loup through the schist hillsides of Faugères, all the way south to the rugged landscape of Corbières and Fitou.

The negativity that still plagues the Languedoc’s reputation revolves around the densely planted vineyards in the flatlands, generally located closer to the Mediterranean. With irrigation and copious use of fertilizers and other chemical products, yields can easily double or triple those from the poorer soils in the hills farther from the coast, permitting co-ops to churn out colossal quantities of characterless bulk wine. However, the hillsides farther inland are home to some highly desirable terroirs for the production of vibrant, structured wines, and they are not going unnoticed by the keen eyes of certain winemakers. In fact, some old vineyards—having been abandoned by their former owners in search of easier sites to work—are being re-purchased with the intent of fully realizing the potential of the land.

VO_400

Terrasses du Larzac                                          © Anthony Lynch

The Terrasses du Larzac is a prime example of this new trend. A vast area to the north of Clermont l’Hérault, this relatively new sub-AOC of the Coteaux du Languedoc benefits from the cooler temperatures of the steep schist slopes of the Cévennes mountains. Grapes here ripen slower and retain more acidity than in the hotter plains to the south, giving the wines a distinct, lively freshness. Jean-Baptiste Granier, founder of Les Vignes Oubliées, was quick to note this: realizing the potential of some of these higher-altitude terroirs, he purchased several parcels to vinify himself rather than allowing this exceptional fruit to be mixed into the local co-op’s blend. At just 29 years old, Jean-Baptiste has now produced several vintages under his own label and the results speak for themselves, putting to evidence the Languedoc’s potential for serious, age-worthy wines.

Farther south, Maxime Magnon has been pursuing a similar project in the steep slopes of the Hautes-Corbières. A native Burgundian, Maxime ambitiously scoured France for good vineyards to purchase before coming across several abandoned parcels of old vines in these scraggly, garrigue-infested hills. “Nobody wanted to work these parcels,” Maxime explains, “so I bought them.” In vineyards too steep for tractors, it takes true dedication to set out everyday and put in hours of labor by hand. Maxime’s wines perfectly reflect his hard work, with his unique approach creating wines that are filled with luscious fruit while backed with a firm mineral structure.

Magno_400

Maxime Magnon’s vineyards                        © Anthony Lynch

Jean-Baptiste and Maxime are just two examples of many new growers who are revolutionizing wine in France’s most productive region. This new wave of enthusiasm has resulted in an array of fascinating examples that put the Languedoc’s diversity of terroirs in the spotlight. What’s best is that these wines rival some of the greats from other regions in quality, but come nowhere near in price. For the moment, it seems there’s nothing to do but sit back with a full glass of Languedoc wine and enjoy it, before the rest of the world catches on.

To experience the best of what the Languedoc has to offer, mention this blog and

receive 15% off on these six bottles:

2011 COTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC BLANC “SAINT AGNÈS”

ERMITAGE DU PIC SAINT LOUP      $23.00

2011 COTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC BLANC “LES COCALIÈRES”

DOMAINE D’AUPILHAC      $35.00

2011 TERRASSES DU LARZAC ROUGE • LES VIGNES OUBLIÉES      $32.00

2011 CORBIÈRES ROUGE “ROZETA” • MAXIME MAGNON      $29.00

2007 PIC SAINT LOUP ROUGE “GUILHEM GAUCELM”

ERMITAGE DU PIC SAINT LOUP      $48.00

2006 VIN DE PAYS D’OC ROUGE “LES SERROTTES”

LA GRANGE DE QUATRE SOUS      $24.00

Offer valid through September 14,  2013.