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

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…


by Dixon Brooke

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

2014 BEAUJOLAIS villages ROSÉ >

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

$18.95 per bottle $204.66 per case


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

$28.00 per bottle $302.40 per case


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

$17.00 per bottle $183.60 per case


by Dixon Brooke


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

$16.00 per bottle $172.80 per case


by Anthony Lynch

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

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

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

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

2012 Chinon “Clos de la Dioterie” $52.00 >

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

2012 Chinon “Clos de Chêne Vert” $49.00 >

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


The Intriguing Wines of Edi Kante

by Dixon Brooke

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

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

2012 Venezia Giulia Vitovska $35.00  >

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

2012 Venezia Giulia Malvasia $35.00  >

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

2012 Venezia Giulia Sauvignon $35.00  >

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

2012 Venezia Giulia Chardonnay $35.00  >

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

2005 Venezia Giulia Vitovska Selezione $54.00  >

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

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

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

Spumante Rosato “Dosaggio Zero $35.00  >

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

Spumante Metodo Classico “Dosaggio Zero” $35.00  >

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

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

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…




by Dixon Brooke

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

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

per case

2013 Gevrey-Chambertin


2013 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Evocelles”


2013 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Corbeaux”


2013 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “La Perrière”


2013 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Cherbaudes”


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


2013 Volnay 1er Cru “Les Brouillards”


2013 Volnay 1er Cru “Les Angles”


2013 Volnay 1er Cru “Les Caillerets”


2013 Pommard 1er Cru “Les Fremiers”


2013 Pommard 1er Cru “Les Croix Noires”


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


by Jennifer Oakes

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

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

per bottle

2014 Corbières Rosé “Gris de Gris” • Fontsainte


2014 Languedoc Blanc • Château de Lascaux


2012 Pinot Blanc • Kuentz-Bas


2012 Jurançon Sec • Domaine Bru-Baché


2013 Quincy • Domaine Trotereau


Petit Royal Brut • Lambert de Seyssel


2013 Moscato d’Asti • Elvio Tintero


2013 Pays d’Oc Rouge • Château Fontanès


2013 Beaujolais • Domaine Dupeuble


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


2011 Eloro Nero d’Avola “Spaccaforno” • Riofavara


2011 Côtes du Vivarais Rouge • A. Gallety


Special Sampler Price

$164 (a 25% discount)

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

Antoine Arena, New Arrivals

by Anthony Lynch

Corsican winemaking has come a long way in recent years, and it would be foolish to deny Antoine Arena’s role in its transformation. Having taken over the family domaine as much out of national pride as out of passion for the land, Antoine pioneered a new school of viticulture on the island—one that focused on terroir and rejected the industrial, chemical approach that had become the norm by the 1980s. His pioneering attitude led him to create a number of striking single-vineyard wines from indigenous grape varieties, setting the bar for quality and kicking off a resurgence of artisanal production by contemporary Corsican vignerons, now in full swing.

The offerings below are 100% Niellucciu from Patrimonio’s clay and limestone, grown organically and bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with minimal added sulfur. The wines are young and greatly benefit from aeration—we suggest decanting them for at least a couple of hours to better appreciate these most natural, transparent expressions of Patrimonio’s terroir.


Antoine Arena           © Gail Skoff


“The eldest myrtle,” a young-vine bottling from a plot of land the Arena family has worked for more than four hundred years, refers to the wild bush that makes up a large part of Patrimonio’s wild scrubland, or maquis. A somber, earthy aroma opens up to rustic red berry fruit and suggestions of the very same maquis. Medium-bodied with hints of spice and game, it demands thick slices of country charcuterie.

$45.00 per bottle $486.00 per case


Carco is Arena’s flagship parcel, a well-exposed slope two miles from the sea that Antoine had to manually clear of massive white limestone boulders. These stones have left their mark: it tastes as though a dusting of pulverized rock coats the chewy black fruit. Slightly austere and deeply mineral, it has a freshness and tannic backbone that will allow for a thrilling evolution over the years.

$45.00 per bottle $486.00 per case

Tribute to Madame Lacaussade

by Dustin Soiseth

It was our colleague Mark Congero’s last day at the retail shop—he decamped to Maui, so don’t feel bad—and after work we toasted with a gift from one of his clients, a bottle of 1983 Chateau de l’Hospital. This wonderful red, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon, offered a glimpse of an older style of Graves. Not many Bordelais are growing Malbec anymore.


In Adventures on the Wine Route Kermit writes of L’Hospital proprietor Madame de Lacaussade’s indomitable spirit in the face of misogynist negociants and ambivalent children; her unwavering adherence to traditional vinification and varietals; her splendid relic of a chateau and its antique toilet. “I believe that wine can reflect the personality of the man or in this case the woman who makes it,” he writes. “Madame de Lacaussade has a flamboyant personality and her wine is far from bland. Then I realize that as true as my theory might be it is absurd-sounding. Can fermented grape juice express the personality of a man or woman?”

I never met Madame so I will never know for sure, but in reading about her and tasting this wine I feel that I do, a bit. Perhaps that’s foolish. As for the wine itself, it was marvelous. Fully mature but still vibrant, a lion in winter expressing all the leafy, leathery, earthy aromas characteristic of a fine aged claret.


Madame Lacaussade    © Gail Skoff

It was a singular experience, and one of the more memorable of my career. And while I am unlikely to taste Madame de Lacaussade’s L’Hospital again, I am thankful for the dedicated cadre of producers – Gombaude-Guillot, Moulin Pey-Labrie, Belles-Graves, among others – that Kermit continues to import. They continue the tradition she embodied, and when I taste their wines I am reminded why I fell in love with Bordeaux in the first place. Cheers to them, to Mark, and to you, Madame.

April Newsletter: KL Shocker: “Sterile Filtration a Blessing,” 101-Point Wines, Raveneau Switches to Beer, Big Selection of Unnatural Wines

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…


by Anthony Lynch

This month’s sampler contains six wines that received a perfect score—or better. Our panel of experts sampled each wine on separate occasions, at his or her desired pace, with appropriately selected food, and in good company. The wines were rated with total respect to the context in which they were tasted. The judges came to the conclusion that these six wines, when imbibed with consideration for the style of wine and region of origin, represent the best of their respective class. All wines therefore received a rating of at least one hundred points.

Perhaps you too will award these wines outstanding scores when you consider their originality, individuality, and integrity to the style each represents. They are maybe not the six best wines ever, but they are honest translations of their terroir, grape, and grower. They excel within their respective class rather than trying to overwhelm all with power or flashiness. Ostertag’s old-vine Sylvaner, for example, does not have the complexity and grandeur of a mature grand cru Burgundy, but it truly shines when matched with a variety of diverse cuisines, and you will be hard-pressed to find a better Sylvaner. Tempier’s Bandol lacks the polish of many of today’s highest-rated reds, yet we appreciate it precisely for its rusticity and untamed soulfulness. Any of these six can be one-hundred-point wines—find the cuisine, mood, and company that bring out the best of each and you are assured a genuinely fulfilling experience.

per bottle

2013 Müller Thurgau “Sass Rigais” • Manni Nössing


2013 Les Vieilles Vignes de Sylvaner

Domaine Ostertag


2013 Patrimonio Blanc • Yves Leccia


2012 Vacqueyras “Cuvée Azalaïs”

Domaine le Sang des Cailloux


2012 Bandol Rouge • Domaine Tempier


2011 Chinon “Les Varennes du Grand Clos”

Charles Joguet


Normally $210.00

Special Sampler Price


(a 20% discount)


by Dixon Brooke



When you think of the great Saint Joseph appellation, don’t forget to think of white as well as red. Though much less of the former is produced, it is one of France’s most unique, versatile, and delicious white wines. Made predominantly from Roussanne and Marsanne grown on granite hillsides above the Rhône, the best examples are dry yet ample, with an unctuous texture and hints of honeysuckle and pit fruits like apricot and peach. Lionel Faury’s interpretation is distinguished by its elegance, class, balance, and stylishness, a lot of adjectives you might not think to employ for this humble country wine. With a few years of bottle age on it, it is polished and ready to give maximum satisfaction, as an apéritif, with assorted appetizers, or with fish or fowl.

$32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case



How often can you find a Barolo with almost fifteen years of age for a price like this? That is a rhetorical question. From the Fantinos’ oldest vines in Monforte d’Alba’s storied Bussia cru, the raw material here is second to none. All of the secondary flavors you’d expect from a Barolo with this kind of maturity are starting to emerge: earth, wood smoke, tar, leather, tobacco, truffles, dried flowers, citrus peel . . . It’s time to get creative in the kitchen and let this bottle breathe while it awaits a rustic slow-cooked main course.

$55.00 per bottle $594.00 per case

Sylvain’s Carignan


by Chris Santini

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

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



$36.00 per bottle $388.80 per case

Where Beaujolais Meets Carignan

by Sarah Hernan

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

Southern Rhône? Closer—Languedoc-Roussillon!

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…


by Dixon Brooke


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

$26.00 per bottle $280.80 per case



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

$55.00 per bottle $594.00 per case


by Anthony Lynch


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

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

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

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

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

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

$23.00 per bottle $248.40 per case


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

$19.95 per bottle $215.46 per case


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

$19.00 per bottle $205.20 per case

Vibrant Wines from a Remote Terroir

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

arrextea postcard photo