Remembering Paul Bara

Last week we were saddened to hear of the recent passing of legendary Champagne producer Paul Bara. Established in Bouzy in 1833, the House of Bara has passed family traditions from generation to generation for more than 170 years. The village of Bouzy and Champagne Paul Bara are practically synonymous. As the published village historian, Paul was, and forever will be, indelibly linked to the lore of his hometown. Many agree that he is their most renowned producer, being one of the rare récoltants-manipulants in a region inundated with the mass-produced wines of the large, corporate champagne houses. Today, Paul’s daughter Chantale continues his legacy. Our National Sales Manager, Bruce Neyers, has shared with us his memory of first meeting Paul. We hope you’ll join us in raising a glass to Paul Bara, a true champion of Champagne.

Paul-Bara-Wine-Cellar

The cellar of Paul Bara © Champagne Paul Para

I learned earlier this week that Paul Bara of Bouzy died a few days ago, in Bouzy at the age of 93. I had to pause and collect myself upon hearing the news. I met Paul on my first trip to France for Kermit, in January 1993. He greeted us wearing a suit and a tie, along with a handsome cloth homburg that seemed to have come right out of a Marcel Pagnol film. He said he wore it all day because he never knew when he had to go into the icy cellars.

He collected all 12 of us in his office — prominently decorated with beautiful antique maps of the region. He poured each of us a glass of Champagne, then sat us down in classroom fashion and conducted a lecture replete with photos of the vineyards, and a history lesson of the Champagne region. He spoke of Champagne as three regions, and then talked about the historical, cultural and political reasons it had become divided. He was a big man, powerfully built and physically imposing, and he seemed even larger standing in front of us all, wielding his pointer to show this or that district and describe the Champagne from each respective area.

He then took us to the cellar and pointed out the pick marks of the tunnels in the chalk. He explained how they were dug by hand in the days before the ‘Great War’, and then showed the tunnel extension that he had dug himself, alone, without help. I seem to recall that he said he could get about two meters deep a day, about 2.5 meters high, and 2 meters wide. Their bottling system was most impressive, as it was an antique, capable of doing only one bottle at a time.

He would always disgorge a few bottles for us — I think he kept them on the riddling rack just to show off. No one could ever take a photograph of him disgorging Champagne, so fast was he able to disgorge it. He would do a dozen or so bottles in just a few seconds. He was an intellectual on his craft, and always affable, professorial and generous. And he loved to drink Champagne. He reminded me of why it is that Champagne makes us so cheerful. –Bruce Neyers

MOLD

by Kermit Lynch

 

Mold_edit

© Gail Skoff

Mold might be considered a tough sell these days, but here I go.

When I began to buy wine in Burgundy in the seventies, the vignerons had a saying: If you build a cave, a winery installation, and mold doesn’t grow in it, start all over in another location. They were saying that mold is a good thing in a winemaking environment. And I remember what a treat it was, descending underground and being greeted by the smells of wine, wood, and moldy stone walls.

You might imagine a moldy smell like fruits and other foods develop when they rot, but no, it wasn’t that at all. It smelled fresh and alive and healthy. The mold glistened with little drops of moisture. Mold was a sign of the right temperature and humidity for raising wine. Each cellar had its own particular mold and gave its own fresh aroma. Wines seemed to breathe in the distinct aroma of their cellar, and I could smell that in the aromatic components of each domaine’s wine.

Each growth of mold had a different color, too, which made the walls a thing of beauty. In Raveneau’s cellar, for example, the stone walls had gorgeous streaky blotches of red, purple, pink, orange, and ochre. When I tasted, it was often with my eyes on the walls. In my mind, I started framing certain areas of the walls and imagining them as abstract art, because they were so lovely. Chave’s cellar was another particularly beautiful garden of mold, and I often put photos of his mold-covered walls and bottles in this brochure.

One day at Raveneau’s, I decided to ask my wife to teach me to use one of her cameras so I could return another day, not to taste but to make color pictures of these weird shapes and colors. But I never did.

However, I’m writing this because the movement now in France is to clean up all the mold and make wine in a sterile environment. People want fresh fruit nowadays. Their taste has changed. Mold is a no-no.

Given that wine is a sponge and sucks up whatever aromas are in its environment, I’m afraid wines these days are sucking up sterility. Yes, the fruit is “cleaner” in a wine’s aroma, but without mold much less complex, less suggestive of extra-vinous influences, and less reflective of the site where it was made—sort of like the movement away from native yeasts to test-tube concoctions.

If people like mere fruit so much, let them buy fruit juice. It’s a lot cheaper.

October Newsletter: Mold, The Guardian of Burgundy, New Domaines

The October Newsletter is now available.

Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

FOUR DECADES OF
CATHERINE & PIERRE BRETON >

by Dixon Brooke

© Catherine & Pierre Breton

The Bretons are quite a couple. Let’s start with the fact that their last name, Breton, is literally a synonym for the Cabernet Franc grape in the Loire Valley. Both are relatively short, so they can easily walk through the openings of all the troglodyte cellars that dot their property along the Loire River. Both are little balls of explosive energy and are super-passionate about their wines. They continue to take on more and more projects even though they are already working seven days a week and never come up for air. Catherine is now making wine in Vouvray and running a retail shop on the Île d’Yeu. Despite all this activity, they make some of the most natural and the most consistent wines in France. It is just insanity. In their immense wisdom they thought to stash away vintages from their greatest Bourgueil vineyard over the past four decades in their cool, limestone caves, and here we are able to present you with a perfectly preserved vertical. Three to drink now, one to age yourself. Santé!

 

per bottle

per case

2012 Bourgueil “Les Perrières” >
A thoroughbred of a wine with great breed and poise, long future.

$49.00

$529.20

2003 Bourgueil “Les Perrières” >
Deliciously lush and full, remains fresh with backbone.

82.00

885.60

1996 Bourgueil “Les Perrières” >
A vintage that took a long time to come around but is now singing.

88.00

950.40

1989 Bourgueil “Les Perrières” >
La grande année—25+ years and still going strong.

88.00

950.40

 

INTRODUCING
PODERE CAMPRIANO

A SMALL FARM IN TUSCANY

by Dixon Brooke

Finally! Ever since I discovered this tiny family farm in the hills above Greve in Chianti, I have been doing everything I can to rush the wines over here. Alas, small sometimes equals slow: not as many hands on deck to prepare labels, bottle wine, work the vines, survey the previous vintages in cask, cook dinner, etc, etc. I have been doing my best to save part of the wheel of aged pecorino cheese that the owner gave me until the wine arrived, but I just missed it. He promised to send more. These beautiful expressions of pure Sangiovese rendered with Tuscan heart and soul will transport you to the magical place that is Tuscany.

2011 CHIANTI CLASSICO >

Classic Chianti. Also textbook Greve. Dark, deep, infused with schist minerality, vigorous, bright, mouth-coating.

$30.00 per bottle $324.00 per case

2011 CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA >

The Riserva is more a wine of the earth than a wine of fruit. It has a lot to say and needs air, time, and preferably a bistecca to say it.

$42.00 per bottle $453.60 per case

2011 ALTA VALLE DELLA GREVE “80” >

From vines planted in their highest terraces in 1980, this is technically a Chianti Classico Riserva. Less technically, finesse, elegance, and pure deliciousness are a few of its most prized assets.

$57.00 per bottle $615.60 per case

That’s Serge with the ’stache

Celebrating 25 Years with Sang des Cailloux
by Kermit Lynch

© Gail Skoff

That’s Serge with the ’stache, this summer in Provence. When you drink Sang des Cailloux, you are drinking Provence. Yum. Tastes good.

Twenty-five years ago, I was thrilled (as a Dylan fan) that Serge’s wine in the glass fit the moniker. Blood of the stones. Oh yes, you can squeeze blood out of a stone. Serge does it every year.

Serge and I went through our earlier days liking wines with a wallop. We liked brawny mouth-fillers. But his also had intense flavors and great depth. Nowadays we are, of course, more sage. We like touch and finesse, and Serge achieves both without losing that impression of intensity. The stones are in the vineyard. The aromatic herbs fill the air. Both are in this perfect 2013.

To see vividly the difference between northern and southern Rhône, to fix the difference in your mind, pair Serge’s with the Côte Rôtie “La Viaillère” offered elsewhere in this brochure. You will enjoy a pristine, very expressive version from each region.

Serge has supplied us all with several memorable vintages over the past twenty-five years. I wouldn’t say this is his best, but none have been better.

2013 Vacqueyras Rouge
“Cuvée FlouretO >

$34.00 per bottle $367.20 per case

The World’s Greatest Syrah, and a Teardrop

Over the weekend we lost a great vigneron, and one that was close to our hearts—Noël Verset. Noël’s wines were a mainstay of our Cornas imports for decades, until his retirement after the 2006 vintage. Including the time he spent training with his father, Noël made wine for more than seventy years. Below is a remembrance written by our National Sales Manager, Bruce Neyers, of his first experience meeting Noël. We bid adieu to the great Syrah master.

Noël Verset
1919-2015

© Gail Skoff

I met Noël Verset in 1993, on my first trip to France for Kermit Lynch. Although he was then in his late seventies, he was still actively working the vines and making wine. Kermit had arranged a two-week trip for me to meet his growers; the itinerary that he laid out started in Alsace and ended 12 days later in Marseilles. My friend and former colleague, Ehren Jordan, had moved to France a few months earlier and was working for Jean Luc Columbo in Cornas. I was pleasantly surprised when Ehren offered to take some vacation time and join me for the trip. He said it would give him a chance to visit some other regions and taste a wide range of wines. I welcomed the prospect of another driver and especially an interpreter. After meeting at the airport in Strasbourg in early January, we traveled through France together — visiting many of Kermit’s suppliers and tasting their wines. I was learning as much as I could about the wines, their history, their production techniques, and any other details that would help me sell them.

After a short drive through Alsace, we continued on to Burgundy, then to Chalonnaise, Mâcon and Beaujolais. We entered the northern Rhône in Vienne. From Côte-Rôtie we drove to Condrieu. After stopping to visit a producer in St. Joseph, we drove on to Hermitage. All along this part of the route we tasted Syrah. In many places, we tasted Syrah like I had never tasted before, for we were in the home of that seductive wine. After a tasting with Gérard Chave, in Mauves, we drove on to Cornas for another visit, followed by dinner at a local hotel. Ehren was excited to return to Cornas; this was his new home. As the only American living in the region, he was a celebrity, well known by many of the locals. Everywhere we went, people would see his large white American car with its Pennsylvania license plates, and begin to wave at us enthusiastically. Since he didn’t want to be late for our appointment with Noël Verset, we sped through the tiny back streets of this ancient town. At the end of what seemed like a deserted alley, we parked the car and walked towards a sign noting the cellars of Noël Verset, Vigneron. We rang the bell and were immediately greeted by the short and cherubic Noël.

He was delighted to see Ehren. As I learned during our tasting, Noël’s wife of over 50 years had died four years before and, since his two daughters had long ago married and moved out of the area, he was living alone. Over the previous few months, he and Ehren had formed a close bond. Weekly, they prepared a dinner together and shared it, along with a bottle of wine, at Noel’s kitchen table. At one point, Noël confided in me that the meeting with Ehren had been important for him, coming as it did during a time when he was still trying to come to grips with the enormous grief he felt over the loss of his wife. We tasted several wines in his rustic cellars, then adjourned to the kitchen, where Ehren and Noël assumed their customary spots at the table. Before Noel sat down, however, he walked across the room and opened the door leading down to his frigid basement. Behind it stood a recently opened bottle of Verset 1988 Cornas.

The 1988 vintage in Cornas, as I was to soon learn, had been an especially good one. Knowing how much Ehren enjoyed this wine, Noël had set aside a bottle for us to drink while we sat and talked. In a few moments, he reached behind him and withdrew from the bookcase a large, plastic-covered photo album. Drawing a satisfying gulp of wine, he opened the book to the first page, careful to tilt it so that I could see the photo, a black and white of a strikingly attractive, slender woman in a bathing suit of the 1930’s, standing on a beach on a bright summer day. Her hair was wet, presumably from a dip in the Mediterranean, which could be seen behind her in the photo. Noël said that it was his wife, during a summer vacation they took in Cannes. She died, he said, in 1988, and whenever he drank a bottle from that vintage he liked to look at the old pictures of them, enjoying the early days of their life together.

With this, he slowly turned each page, and made a comment regarding when and where it was taken. Ehren translated for me. In a few minutes, I was transfixed, both by the magnificent wine and by this beautiful woman who was, sadly, no longer part of Noël’s life. He seemed cheerful, though, especially when talking about the photos. And then I noticed a drop of moisture as it fell from his eyes and splattered on the vinyl covering the photograph. I looked at him and saw his eyes full of tears. My eyes welled up, too.

Noël ran through the rest of the album quickly now, as his teardrops were coming a bit faster and the end of the bottle was in sight. With a final sigh, he closed the book, turned his back on us for a bit longer than he needed to, then turned back to face the table. He was entirely composed by then. I can’t remember if I was.

Noël looked at me, as he was taking a final sip of wine. “So what do you think of my 1988 Cornas?” he asked. I paused for a moment, composed myself, and replied, “I think it’s the greatest Syrah I’ve ever tasted.” Bruce Neyers

verset cellar-1994© Gail Skoff

Pasta with No-Cook “Umami” Sauce

Retail salesperson Jennifer Oakes is our guest blogger today and shares one of her favorite late-summer recipes.

© Gail Skoff

Umami is the so-called “fifth taste” after sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, and you’ve probably been enjoying it all along. It was “discovered,” or at the very least proposed as a distinct flavor category, by a Japanese scientist a century ago and it is what gives that elusive meaty, savory character to foods. It is found in the highest levels in hard cheeses, dried, cured, and fermented fish, soy sauce, tomatoes, and mushrooms, to name a few. Despite my years as a professional baker of cakes, cookies, and other desserts (or perhaps because of) I’m not much of a sweets person. I’ve always been more in love with the salty/sour spectrum. But when I discovered umami, I knew I was home.

Foods with umami are very welcoming to wine. Some wines, such as Vermentino from Corsica and Muscadet Sur Lie from the Loire, can even be slightly savory in themselves. But savory foods can be enhanced by wines that have the complementary flavors of sweet fruit and bright acidity and even a slight bitterness or earthiness. Consider the magic that is the classic pairing of Chianti with red sauce pasta. That meaty, umami-rich sauce is delicious balanced with the fruitiness, high acidity, and just a tinge of bitterness that Chianti brings to the party. Below I’ve shared another pasta recipe that captures this essence of umami and is easily paired with whatever tasty red, white, or rosé you might happen to have around.  


Pasta with No-Cook “Umami” Sauce

I know this looks like a long list of ingredients for one dish but your time is mostly spent chopping, not actually cooking. All it takes is the time to cook the pasta and you can get the rest of the ingredients together while the water boils. On that note, I have a time-saving trick for cooking the pasta you might want to try. I add the pasta to the pot with the cold salted water and bring it to the boil together. As long as you stir the pasta often at the beginning, it cooks so much faster than the usual way, the pasta doesn’t get gummy at all, and the kitchen stays cooler. Anything to save time getting dinner on the table is a plus in my book.

You can also add anything that appeals to the “sauce” from your summer larder, especially anything that adds to the umami of the dish such as high quality tuna packed in oil or smoked mozzarella. Sometimes I can’t remember all of the ingredients and toss in other salty cheeses like feta or goat cheese because that seems like a good idea and it always works out. I also like it a bit spicy so I’ll put in more jalapenos and definitely use the hot smoked paprika. In other words, don’t worry if you don’t have everything on this list but make sure to at least to add the Parmesan and fish sauce and some variety of tomatoes because that’s where the savoriness really comes from.


½ cup arugula, chopped

¼ cup basil, chopped

2 tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped

3 medium heirloom tomatoes, chopped

¼ cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

3 tbsp cream

¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 scallion, chopped, both green and white parts

2 tbsp olive oil

juice of half a small lemon

1 tbsp tomato paste

2 tbsp Thai fish sauce

1 jalapeno, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 ½ tsp Spanish smoked paprika, sweet or hot

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 pound dried pasta such as conchiglie, penne rigate or cavatappi

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a handful of salt to make the water briny. Meanwhile, mix all ingredients except for pasta in a large mixing bowl and let stand while the pasta cooks. Once the water is rapidly boiling, add the pasta to the pot and return to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta well then return it to the pot. Off the heat, add all the chopped ingredients from the bowl to the pot and stir to combine. The heat of the pasta will wilt the herbs and bring out all the savory aromas. Serve immediately.  Serves 4

September Newsletter: Premier Cru Burgundies, Rhône Wines, Northern Italy

The September Newsletter is now available.

Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

PREMIER CRU BURGUNDIES

by Anthony Lynch

2013 SANTENAY ROUGE 1ER CRU “LE BEAUREPAIRE”
JEAN-MARC VINCENT >

Jean-Marc and Anne-Marie Vincent represent a breed of vigneron that is harder and harder to come by. The elegance and seductiveness of this Pinot Noir is a testament to the potential of the undervalued Santenay appellation in the hands of dedicated artisans. Full-cluster fermentation—a lost art in Burgundy—contributes appetizing bright fruit before deeper notes of dark forest berries and a sturdy finale remind us of Santenay’s goût de terroir. You’ll want to enjoy this rare beauty now and over the next decade.

$57.00 per bottle $615.60 per case

2012 ALOXE-CORTON 1ER CRU “CLOS DU CHAPITRE”
DOMAINE FOLLIN-ARBELET >

Franck Follin-Arbelet bottles a pure, unadulterated expression of Aloxe-Corton’s terroir. His reds ferment naturally in old wooden vats, and are then racked by gravity into barrel for a long and patient élevage in the domaine’s deep, cool cellar. Brimming with perfumed sour cherry and red currant, Clos du Chapitre graces the palate with the utmost finesse. While still tightly wound, its sensuous texture and silky-fine tannins impart a graceful, ethereal harmony to the wine. You’ll see why we rank Follin-Arbelet alongside the top Burgundy domaines we’ve ever imported.

$76.00 per bottle $820.80 per case

RHÔNE WINES

by Kermit Lynch

2012 SAINT JOSEPH BLANC
DOMAINE FAURY >

I’ve been championing Saint Joseph reds and whites forever, and damn it, this bottle will show you why. It is white, a dry white, vinified in older barrels, malo completed—the old-fashioned way.

Some claim Hermitage and Condrieu make greater whites. Greater for what? Value? No. Immediate gratification? No. Snobbery? Yes. So I say: Don’t be a snob, vote Saint Joseph! Actually, I’d say that a lot depends on the winemaking.

Faury’s 2012 offers obvious deliciousness—no beating around the bush. The nose is a complexity of lovely fruits and flowers. It offers a rare charm to the senses, and I have a weakness for charm.

$32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case

2013 CÔTE RÔTIE “LA VIAILLÈRE”
BARRUOL / LYNCH >

One of the things that brought Louis Barruol and me together was our love for the Côte Rôties of Marius Gentaz. Now that I think of it, not many readers will have tasted a Gentaz—vintage 1993 was his last, and there really wasn’t ever much to go around back then anyway. Here is our latest homage to the humble master.

$75.00 per bottle $810.00 per case

NORTHERN ITALY

by Katie Dodds

2014 VALLE D’AOSTA BIANCO “PETITE ARVINE”
CHÂTEAU FEUILLET >

When: 5:30 p.m. on a Friday. Hottest summer on the books since ’03.

Where: Ground floor of a well-insulated and poorly ventilated townhouse, Beaune, Côte d’Or, Burgundy.

Problem: Fan not working, brain boiling, bad attitude. Flies.

BP_Newsletter_VDAostaSolution: This sweating bottle of high-altitude Petite Arvine. Simple yet refined, it harks to its lofty upbringing in the Italo-Swiss Alps, where the grapes grow on striated parcels of stark granite cliffs at 2,600 feet.

My glass opened to zingy minerality, fleshed out with summer melon and stone fruit. I could swear I felt an impossible breeze descend from Mont Blanc, and the fan began to whir . . .

$29.00 per bottle $313.20 per case

2013 BECCO ROSSO • CORTE GARDONI >

The Corvina grape has spent most of its history cast as a workhorse. In Valpolicella, it lays to dry on straw mats, where its hallmark bright acidity is sacrificed to ramp up the sweetness and power of Amarone. Across Lago di Garda, Corvina typically huddles in dense, industrial-style growing conditions and is mostly found blended with less expressive, easier-to-grow varietals. Fortunately for us, at Corte Gardoni they believe in pure Corvina, putting the best aside for their Becco Rosso. Vibrant and faultlessly refreshing, this variety is worthy of praise in its own right.

$18.95 per bottle $204.66 per case

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

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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

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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

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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