A French Woman in the Bay Area

by Sarah Hernan

I know this title sounds quite common around here—you must be thinking yet another French person! And I couldn’t blame you as I have never been in a foreign country with such a huge French community. Every time I walk around San Francisco or Berkeley, I almost feel like home—hearing my native language on every street corner. And here starts the hide-and-seek game, trying to hide my French accent from my compatriots. There are two types of ex-pats, the ones who look for people from their home country and the others who try desperately to hide from them.

Sarah photos_400

Exploring the Bay Area

I am a part of the latter. Of course I miss France, my family and friends. It’s never easy to start a new life in a new place, with new people, new language, and new customs. I understand that it is simpler and more comforting to hang out with fellow countrymen, especially when you first hit the shore of a new country. But then the real adventure has to begin—overcoming fear, trusting yourself, and moving forward. Total immersion is necessary to soak up another culture and language. Time flies and before you realize it, you are back home experiencing what we call “reverse culture shock.”

After almost three months spent in the Bay Area and many weekend trips, I can say without any hesitation that I could definitely live here for a while—it is terrifically different from France but so similar at the same time. French food culture is present everywhere. So far I almost haven’t missed anything. A Bay Area native is probably used to the cultural diversity but for the provincial French person that I am, this is very unusual and surprises me every day. Culture, art, nature, food, and wine from all over the world—there is something for everyone. The Bay Area fully deserves its rank among the top places to live in the world, even with its unpredictable fog. I consider the Bay Area, as the French say, ma région de coeur—loosely translated as “my second home.”

But even then, I could never disown my birthplace, Alsace.

Alsace is a charming French region next door to Germany, well-known for its rich gastronomy and unpronounceable village names like Niedermorschwihr, the home town of our famous producer Albert Boxler. But once you move past these clichés and take time to explore Alsace, all the hidden treasures you’ll find would amaze you. Between plains and mountains, your eyes would be spoiled by the gorgeous landscapes. Have a walk in one of these countless picturesque villages, venture through narrow, curvy streets weaving around the colorful, half-timbered houses—you could never get bored with them.

Alsace_landscapeAlsace in the fall

That’s where I was born, and even though I grew up in a Spanish family, I consider Alsace my home—a special place that I return to year after year.

If you go to Alsace during harvest time and drive along the wine road from Mulhouse to Strasbourg, you would most certainly enjoy the continuing ballet of tractors carrying tons of grapes to the old cellars located in almost every centenarian downtown house.

During Christmas time the region turns into a fairy tale, with bright lights, festive markets, and children behaving perfectly, in a fear of a visit from Père Fouettard who accompanies St Nicholas in his rounds on St Nicholas Day (December 6), distributing lumps of coal and floggings to the naughty children, while St. Nicholas gives out mandarins, chocolate, and Mannele, little fluffy brioche men, to the well-behaved. Père Fouettard gave my brother and I our worst nightmares and my parents can thank him for having such nice children during one month every year.

Strasbourg house_400

Christmas in Strasbourg        © Sarah Hernan

Of course you can’t leave Alsace without trying a glass of schnaps, a local eaux de vie, made from grain or fruit. The most popular are Mirabelle and Quetsch, a plum variety. I can’t remember any family feast without homemade schnaps. Unfortunately, because of new regulation and as old people who knew the process have passed, this traditional beverage is about to disappear. Fortunately, the winemaking traditions are still very strong, preserved by many talented, passionate producers. Some people say that winemakers are like historians, trying to pass to you a piece of their region’s history. Sharing culture and history all over the world is an honorable quest.

During last week’s staff tasting, we tasted a few Alsatian wines from Meyer-Fonné and Domaine Ostertag. Les Vieilles Vignes de Sylvaner from Ostertag was stunning, a perfect harmony between freshness and white fruit aromas with a long, crisp finish. Sylvaner is not one of the four Noble grapes used in Alsace: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and Muscat. This rustic and high yield grape was neglected but has recently enjoyed a revival and is now even accepted on the Zotzenberg Grand Cru. Through André Ostertag’s talent and his passion to express the terroir, the Sylvaner grape is back to its former glory and transports you to the small village of Epfig.

Thanks to Kermit Lynch’s wide range of superb wines from Alsace, I barely feel homesick. I can enjoy the pleasures of the Bay Area while keeping a taste of home.

2013 Gentil d’Alsace • Meyer-Fonné $18.00

2013 Pinot Blanc “Vieilles Vignes” • Meyer-Fonné $19.95

2013 Sylvaner “Vieilles Vignes” • Domaine Ostertag $25.00

2013 Pinot Blanc “Barriques” • Domaine Ostertag $26.00

October Newsletter: 2012 August Clape Pre-Arrival, Peter Dipoli: A Pioneer from Alto Adige, Atypical Alsatian Selections

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…



by Dixon Brooke

I’m itching with excitement to introduce these two, from opposite ends of the wide spectrum of vinous wonders emanating from the Fantino vines and cellars in Monforte d’Alba. A starter and a finisher, if you will.



A pure Nebbiolo from younger vines in an eastern-facing portion of the Dardi subsection of Bussia in Barolo, this has to be tasted to be believed! Aromatically, you have the feminine side of Barolo, all flowers and perfume. The wine is just firm enough, with mouthwatering acidity and explosively fresh and energetic fruit. It may be the most delicious Nebbiolo you’ve ever tasted. And you can afford to do so by the case.

$19.00 per bottle $205.20 per case


Ne + pas is short for Nebbiolo Passito. This style of wine is an increasingly lost art, and here is an example made by its surviving master. Think Amarone meets Barolo. It is decidedly old school, with all the secondary glory you might expect from a fifteen-year-old wine. Almost dry, with only three grams of residual sugar, it displays a wide range of flavors, including nuts, spices, herbs, dried fruit, and smoked meat. The grapes are harvested two to three weeks before the Barolos and then dried until Christmas, after which they are pressed. You will not find another wine like it anywhere in the world (including Piedmont). Open it with good friends toward the end of a meal.

$60.00 per bottle $648.00 per case



by Anthony Lynch



The nose of this Vermentinu is beautifully expressive, reminiscent of white flowers and sea mist. Crisp, vibrant, and bright, it carries some flesh on the palate along with a tangy salinity. Yum!!!

$19.95 per bottle $215.46 per case


With suggestions of seashells and fleshy white fruit, here is a white that is best enjoyed outdoors. It worked quite well for me on a camping trip to California’s Lost Coast, where it paired to perfection with Pacific sea breezes coming off the rolling waves. This blend of Vermentinu with Biancu Gentile refreshes and stimulates, though I guess it could do that in the comfort of your home, too. Wherever you may be, this is a white you will appreciate most by way of big sips.

$26.00 per bottle $280.80 per case



If Patrimonio is the greatest terroir for Vermentino, this might be the greatest terroir in Patrimonio. A steep slope littered with hunks of chalky limestone, Haut de Carco gives Vermentino’s grandest expression: a generous perfume of honeysuckle and ripe pear, richness of flavor kept in check by a nervy mineral lift, and a sustained finish accented by Mediterranean brine. The depth and complexity here leave no question that this is grand cru material.

$45.00 per bottle $486.00 per case

Corsican charcuterie           © Gail Skoff

Another working day at Domaine d’Aupilhac

Sarah Hernan, our French intern for the summer and fall joins us as our guest blogger today.

You have probably already heard or read about the Domaine d’Aupilhac. In the middle of Languedoc close to the Terrasses du Larzac, Sylvain Fadat and his wife Désirée built a wine cellar next to the family house right in the heart of the village of Montpeyroux.

Two years ago I worked for them as an intern for about six months. Now two years later, currently another interning with KLWM, on the other side of the wine business and also on another continent, I felt that this was a good time to share with you the domaine’s secrets.

Montpeyroux_CastleMontpeyroux Castle      © Sarah Hernan

I could tell you many anecdotes but then I would need more than one blog post, and because nobody asked me to write a book (fortunately), I am going to tell you about one specific day.

Toutes caves ouvertes, which means literally “all wineries opened,” is an annual one-day event during April that awakens this little picturesque village.

After several weeks of preparing to welcome hundreds of people, everything was finally ready. But on this Sunday morning the atmosphere was charged, like before a major competition, a combination of excitement and anxiousness. The weather was not helpful—a dark sky accompanied by an icy wind threatened the celebration day.

We had designed an itinerary guiding our guests across the cellar from the private entrance of the family house through the chai to the wine tasting cellar. All along the path people could taste the domaine’s wines, beginning with whites and ending with a few old vintages.

In spite of the terrible weather, much more appropriate for a winter day than a spring one, the village streets filled up slowly with guests, musicians, and a cluster of farm animals. By noon the cellar was crowded, making it difficult to follow our itinerary.

Aupilhac facade

Aupilhac family house  © Sarah Hernan

Cadenced with tastings, history lessons, laughs, shouts, songs, and brotherhood enthronements, I remember this day as symphonic. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to be enthroned by the world famous brotherhood named “Les Grapillettes”—a rare honor, which celebrates you as an ambassador of the Montpeyroux wines. Sylvain is one of the few lucky honorees.

All the Fadat’s family and friends were there to help, many of their old vintages were opened, among them an incredible Montpeyroux 1999. Deep and complex, with a breathtaking freshness and flavors of garrigue—a magical cuvée I will never forget that made me fall in love with wine all over again.

I picked this day because it embodies the essence of Domaine d’Aupilhac, its philosophy and its wines: authenticity, a hint of craziness, and a lot of generosity and character. I truly believe that passion for wine comes from this kind of setting which makes life a wonderful adventure!

To finish my story, I would like to do a brief etymology lesson. The name Fadat has several meanings. In the colloquial French it means insane, and everyone who knows Sylvain would agree that this translation is perfect for him. I suppose a man needs at least a tiny part of insanity to terrace the terrific, rocky, but exceptional Cocalières vineyard as he did a decade ago. In Occitan, a language spoken in southern France and in a few places in Italy and Spain, Fadat means Touché par la baguette des fées—“Touched with the fairies’wand.” Perhaps, the Aupilhac’s terroir has been blessed by the fairies, but I will let you make your own judgment after you taste one of Fadat’s enchanted wines.

Sylvain a CocaliereSylvain Fadat attending to the Cocalières vineyards  © Sarah Hernan


September Newsletter: New Arrivals from Liguria & Valle d’Aosta, Burgundy Traditionalists, Late Summer Sampler

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

 Late Summer Sampler

by Mark Congero

Is there a better way to celebrate the bounty of the season than with a late summer pizza party? Well, that is exactly what a handful of my KLWM colleagues and I did. The obvious reason to have the party at my house is the wood-burning oven my wife and I built last summer.

With the fire in the oven burning bright and hot, friends arrived with arms full of delicious food and wine. Here is just a small list of what our pizzaioli had to play with: eggplant, cherry tomatoes, summer squash, fresh eggs, fresh herbs, sweet and spicy peppers, pepperoni, sausage, prosciutto, and fresh squid. Perfect Napolitano pizzas were flying out of the 800-degree oven as well as roasted squid and prosciutto-wrapped fontina cheese. By night’s end the pizza count was at thirty-two and there were A LOT of empty bottles!

Of course, not everyone has a wood-burning oven in the backyard, but with a pizza stone and a Weber you can make some darn good pizza. Relax with a glass of rosé, soak up the last bit of late summer warmth, and enjoy all the amazing treats the season has to offer.

We have a great six-bottle mix of wines and a few fun recipes you might enjoy. That, combined with a great discount, makes this the perfect end-of-summer selection of wine. Remember, two six-packs make a case!

Bon appétit!

per bottle

2011 Riesling • Kuentz-Bas


Vouvray Brut “La Dilettante” • C. & P. Breton


2013 Bandol Rosé • Domaine du Gros ’Noré


2011 Languedoc Rouge “Podio Alto” • Domaine du Poujol


2012 Monteleccio • Sesti


2013 Juliénas “Beauvernay” • Domaine Chignard


Normally $146.95

Special Sampler Price $125

(a 15% discount)


ChÂteau Feuillet

by Dixon Brooke

2013 Valle d’Aosta “Petite Arvine”

Outside of Switzerland, the grape variety “Petite Arvine” is nearly unique to this tiny mountainous slice of Italy. It thrives on the steep, rocky slopes of the Valle d’Aosta that, given their striking exposure, are surprisingly sun-baked and warm during the growing season. The flora here makes its debut at the same time as it does in southern Italy. Grower/winemaker Maurizio Fiorano likes his Petite Arvine racy and vibrant, with a core of luminous fruit. The aroma transports you to a lost Sound-of-Music-esque alpine meadow, and the finish is packed with a stony crunchiness that lingers and slakes thirst.

$32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case

2013 Valle d’Aosta “TorRette”

This gorgeous mountain red is a blend of Petit Rouge and Mayolet, so welcome again to some rarely encountered grape varieties. They are grown high on the slopes of the Italian Alps, near the renowned little ski town of Courmayeur, on the Italian side of Monte Bianco. Take a moment to notice this wine’s balance and harmony. A light-bodied red, it stops just short of being too light, which makes it so diverse for food. The aromas and flavors are particular to the Valle d’Aosta, with smokiness, meatiness, and sweet spices along with mountain flowers, wild berries, and a juicy acidity.

$25.00 per bottle $270.00 per case

August Newsletter: 2012 Antoine Jobard P-A, Three Generations of Quenards, For the Cellar

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…


by Dixon Brooke

For some reason, extended élevage is much more common in the Mâconnais than in the Côte d’Or, with many producers exceeding as a matter of course the farther north’s average of eighteen months in barrel. The small supply compared with the enormous demand has surely been a contributing factor in the Côte d’Or, with exceptions limited to the occasional wine that individually demands more time. Surely the growers in the Mâconnais have also been driven to experiment more in order to compete with their northern brethren. For the first time, Jean-Jacques and Nicolas Robert decided to leave two of their 2011s in barrel for thirty months to see how the wine developed. Wanting to hold some 2011 back to sell along with the small 2012 and 2013 harvests, they figured it might as well stay in barrel rather than going into bottle. You will be excited by the results.



Classic La Croix blue schist character is heightened in this most racy and linear of all Denogent cuvées, with the extended aging bringing more structure and rounding out all the sharp edges. Beautiful to enjoy now, it can also be cellared for five-plus years.

$42.00 per bottle $453.60 per case



The heavy clay and limestone soil of Les Reisses resembles that of the Côte d’Or much more than most of the Roberts’ other vineyards. The expression here is of deep composure and solidity, a golden Chardonnay with reserved yet slowly soaring aromas, a full-bodied and persistent palate, and a vein of chalk holding things together with just the right touch.

$45.00 per bottle $486.00 per case



by Clark Z. Terry

Typical” has such a pedestrian connotation in English—after “nice,” it is the next worse way to describe something. But in terms of wine, typique is meant to convey much more than being simply normal or standard. If someone says, “Ce vin est typique,” this is a declaration that the wine displays the terroir and traditional style of a region or village. The best English equivalent would be to say that a wine is “classic.” For the vignerons who have looked to previous generations for inspiration, few compliments are better than to affirm that a wine is perfectly typical.

A sampler of wines showing typicité could have many variations, but here we’ve focused on French reds. The villages are no doubt recognizable, and the wines represent benchmarks of quality and typicité.

per bottle

2011 Chinon “Clos du Chêne Vert” • Charles Joguet


2011 Gevrey-Chambertin • Domaine Maume


2011 Côte Rôtie “Nève” • Blended by Kermit Lynch


2010 Gigondas “Terrasse du Diable” • Les Pallières


2011 Bandol • Domaine de la Tour du Bon


2008 Pomerol • Château Gombaude-Guillot


Normally $345.00

Special Sampler Price


(a 20% discount)

July Newsletter: Staff Selections, Domaine Tempier P-A, New Arrivals from Corsica

The July newsletter is now available. Click here to download the pdf. Highlights from this month’s newsletter…



by Kermit Lynch

Domaine-Tempier-labelToday was my first visit of the year to Domaine Tempier. Down in the cellar, Daniel Ravier pulled tastes of the 2012 from their foudres, because they are not yet in bottle. Meeting the 2012s was like meeting an old friend—their 1979, to be specific, which made good drinking from the start. I recall the 1979 served cool in carafes for a bouillabaisse feast during the wine’s first summer. It was good right after the bottling, too, and at least in magnums, it is still good today at thirty-five years old. Not bad! Our 2012 is also a medium-bodied vintage, generously flavored, a real charmer. Even Cabassaou, which can be pretty tough and square-edged when young, is easy on the palate.

Then at 11:30 I met Lulu Peyraud for an apéritif—Lulu, who at ninety-six claims that she doesn’t drink water. At all. Never. She says she prefers red wine. I asked if she didn’t keep some Vittel or Evian hidden around the house to take a swig or two, you know, when no one is looking. And I wondered aloud, “Why, Lulu, why never a glass of water?”

“I don’t want to get rusty,” she said.

And as for the three 2012 cuvées spéciales, I’ll wait a few years before attacking them, but I’ll have several classiques for drinking cool during summer 2015.

per case

2012 Bandol “Classique”


2012 Bandol “La Migoua”


2012 Bandol “La Tourtine”


2012 Bandol “Cabassaou”




by Anthony Lynch


First, you’ll notice the beautiful color of Agnès Henry’s 2013: it conveys the depth of flavor to be found in this excellent dry rosé. Very elegant, with subtle accents of garrigue, it is also our most affordable Bandol rosé at this time.

$30.00 per bottle $324.00 per case


Alain Pascal’s rosé seems to inevitably top last year’s version. While he is best known for his big, rustic, macho reds, his wines—in all colors—have recently begun to show an increased sense of finesse. In fact, his rosé in 2013 is notably delicate, quite the opposite of what one might expect given the wild, beastly reds he has produced in vintages past. It is lively and fresh, expressing not bananas but all those Provençal flavors that drive us bananas.

$32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case


They say great wine is evocative of place. With Tempier rosé, all it takes is one sniff to be carried back to Provence, conceiving a dreamy fantasy of sunshine and ice-cold pink wine. Suddenly we are in the shade of a massive umbrella pine tree at Domaine Tempier, refreshed by a soothing breeze and generous sips of rosé. The cigales chirp buzzingly in the background, while the sound of laughter complements their constant hum. Your glass of Bandol, evocative of rosemary, ripe peaches, and citrus, is the perfect elixir to wash down the assortment of snacks that has spontaneously materialized: garlic-rubbed toasts with cured anchovies, olives marinated in herb-infused oil, and slices of salty saucisson. This is what Tempier rosé is all about—celebration, gaiety, and delicious simplicity.

$40.00 per bottle $432.00 per case

The Mediterranean at Cassis      © Gail Skoff

The (Im)Possible Pairing: Ceviche

instagram_ceviche_250One of my favorite dishes to prepare during summer is ceviche. I’ve tried multiple methods, but the household favorite remains my Peruvian husband’s family recipe. Ceviche, a citrus-flavored marinated fish dish can be challenging to pair with wine. Adding ingredients like garlic, red onions, cilantro, peppers, corn, or even ginger (as the family recipe requires), and one can easily feel confused when trying to choose aperfect wine. A popular pairing I see mentioned in various wine-food related blogs is Sauvignon Blanc due to its similar flavor profile. Personally, I found that the intense taste of the marinade (leche de tigre) strips the citrus flavors out of the wine.

I prefer to pair my Peruvian ceviche with wines that won’t interfere with the taste of lime but have enough personality to stand up to and complement the tangy flavors of the dish.

instagram_bottles_250On a most recent trip to Tambo restaurant in Oakland, I brought two wines to try out alongside their ceviche: an Alsatian Riesling and a Grüner Veltliner from Alto Adige. The Riesling worked beautifully, while the delicate Grüner was overpowered by the heat of the dish. To avoid making that mistake again, I compiled a little cheat sheet for myself. Con mucho gusto, after much experimenting at various family events and restaurants, I share with you my ceviche-friendly wine list:

2013 Languedoc Blanc • Château de Lascaux $17
2013 Reuilly Pinot Gris • Domaine de Reuilly $20
2012 Riesling Réserve • Meyer-Fonné $23
2013 Île de Beauté “Rosé de Pauline” Domaine Marquiliani $28
2011 Pinot Gris Albert Boxler $38
2011 Pinot Gris “Fronholz”André Ostertag $52

For those who are adventurous enough to experiment at home, I recommend a great recipe from a famous Peruvian chef, Gaston Acurio -> recipe. I would love to hear how the pairings worked for you.


June Newsletter: Rosé Time, A Provençal Gem, Comtesse de Cherisey P-A

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…


by Kermit Lynch

Planning a vacation in Paris? Consider renting an apartment this time. For starters, you’ll save a hell of a lot of euros every morning avoiding hotel petits déjeuners, which are overpriced. Gouging, that’s what I call it. Plus, you can cook at home, take a break from constant restauranting, get to know a neighborhood, live in Paris like a Parisian. Check out a site like vrbo.com for rentals.

I came back with some restaurants to recommend and one to avoid. All have websites with contact info.

Often, I’ve found myself complaining about the difficulty of finding classic French cuisine prepared properly. Bouillabaisse today can mean nothing but a fish soup, boeuf bourguignon nothing but chunks of beef in a winey sauce, and your coq au vin isn’t even made with a coq. They should call it poulet au vin. Believe me, folks, there was a good reason it was made with roosters. It seems like nouvelle cuisine came along and the French turned their backs on their tried-and-true masterpieces.

Go to L’Assiette in the 14th. I had a real, old-fashioned cassoulet, so delicious I ate too much. And they have the best tête de veau I’ve tasted in decades. I had stopped ordering it (same with andouillettes), but after a couple of meals at L’Assiette, I had enough confidence to give it a try. Speaking of veal, their ris de veau was heavenly in terms of texture and flavor. It’s a funky little place; wear what you like. …read more >


Place de la Concorde, Paris, France       © Gail Skoff 


by Clark Z. Terry

We do our best to import just enough of each of our wines. However, small vineyards and old vines can produce miniscule amounts of wine, and sometimes they sell out quickly. A number of these limited-availability, once-a-year selections just hit our shores, and we wanted to call your attention to them—raise their profiles, so to speak. Here’s your chance; don’t miss out.

per bottle

2012 Terrasses du Larzac Rouge • Les Vignes Oubliées


The forgotten vines from the Languedoc’s most up-and-coming appellation. Old-vine Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan planted at 1,000 feet above sea level produce this deep, chewy red.

2011 Blagny Rouge 1er Cru “La Genelotte” • Domaine de Cherisey


Blagny rouge is a rarity these days, especially one from Pinot Noir vines that date back to 1934. This one will also age gracefully (we’ve had experience tasting back to the 1998), making de Cherisey’s rouge one of our great red Burgundy values.

2011 Chinon “La Croix Boissée” • Bernard Baudry


The most structured and complex of Baudry’s line of Chinons. Undervalued, it is a true prize that has decades of aging potential.

2012 Languedoc Blanc “Sainte Agnès” • Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup


Sainte Agnès has elegance and grace on the level of the stunning whites of Patrimonio in Corsica.

2012 Savigny-lès-Beaune Blanc “Dessus les Gollardes”

Domaine Pierre Guillemot


White Burgundy that’s not entirely Chardonnay?! Les Gollardes is 70% Pinot Blanc, and the result is at once familiar and exotic.

2010 Riesling “Clos Mathis” • Domaine Ostertag


Many great wines come from granite soils, and the Clos Mathis fits that bill. Chiseled, refined, and pure—notable complexity.

Normally $238

Special Sampler Price $190

(a 20% discount)

May Newsletter: The Italian Portfolio

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…


by Kermit Lynch

When I hung up an open sign for the first time in 1972, I was not an importer; I was a Wine Retailer Without Borders. I sold wines from all over the place. Then I obtained the permit to import my very own discoveries from, at first, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. Soon I dropped domestic wines in order to concentrate on my imports and to avoid losing California winemaker Joseph Swan as a best pal. Then I let Spain go—I simply could not get excited about the semi-oxidized style that reigned at the time. Next, painfully, I cut out German wines. Too damned white, if you ask me. No, just kidding—German Rieslings, especially aged Rieslings, can take my breath away.

I seemed to want to focus, to specialize. I’m not saying my choice of Italian and French wines was the best or the most logical—I was just following my own nose. Before, I had the feeling I was hopping from here to there, skimming the surface. I wanted to be able to concentrate on my two true loves, to immerse myself deeper into their ancient wine cultures.

Looking back, I see that my first shipment from Italy included 1974 and 1971 Barolos from both Aldo Conterno and Cantina Vietti. Hmm, wish I still had some of those beauties in my cellar. And from France, the first boat brought all Burgundy, including remarkable 1972s and 1971s from Hubert de Montille.

I am going to ask and answer myself right here on the page in front of you why I don’t seem to have quite the same attitude toward French and Italian wines. I’m not sure it makes sense. Of course, the first thing I look for is quality. After that, with French wines my interest has had a lot to do with the specific terroirs—the difference between Rugiens and Taillepieds, Migoua and Tourtine, Chêne Vert and Dioterie. My interest in Italian wines, however, is more food driven—yes, more to do with the table than with the terroir.

Again, that’s just me. Working here with me, Dixon Brooke (who has added such great wines as Quintarelli, Benevelli, Fantino, and Sesti to our portfolio) is passionate and determined to build a selection of Piedmont and Tuscan terroirs to rival our Burgundy, Loire, and Rhône portfolios. Keep your eyes on our Italian arrivals: there are new discoveries here and on the way.

April Newsletter: 2012 Les Pallières P-A, Spring Sampler, We Flock to Faury, Meet the Winemaker

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…


by Clark Z. Terry

2012 ChâteauneufduPape Blanc

Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe

In February we featured the pre-arrival of the 2012 Vieux Télégraphe Rouge, but now it is time to cast the spotlight on their Blanc, sourced from the same stone-laden vineyard as the Rouge, La Crau. And my, oh my, how those stones express themselves in the white. A hallmark of the Vieux Télégraphe style (and all the wines produced by the Bruniers, for that matter) is an underlying elegance. Even amid the stoniness, the rustic fruit lies on a bed of velvet texture and true finesse. The Vieux Télégraphe Blanc focuses on elegance and pure balance perhaps more than any of their other wines. It is light on the palate yet still has full weight and presence. It has a minerally structure, not unlike premier cru Burgundy, which is one of the reasons it has a reputation for aging ten or more years. But you’ll find great pleasure now in this wine, and any true fan of the Vieux Télégraphe would be remiss to pass by this opportunity. Availability is very limited.

$74.00 per bottle $799.20 per case

2008 Bandol “Saint Ferréol”

Domaine de la Tour du Bon

I wasn’t around on this earth when Kermit began travelling to Provence in the 1970s, developing his obsession with the region and the wines. That said, I’ve heard about it, read about it, and had the great fortune to taste many of the wines from that time. Back then, the wines of Bandol had a touch more funk than they do now. In general less is a good thing, but a little funk can go a long way in creating wines of intrigue and character. In Tour du Bon’s Saint Ferréol you’ll find that touch of funk and a whole lotta Mourvèdre, too. I might be naïve in saying this, but it strikes me that this wine is somewhat of a throwback to the wilder wines of Provence from a number of decades ago. For the old-timers out there, check this bottle out to relive the glory days of your early wine-buying experiences. For those with only recent Bandol experience, prepare to be transported back to a time and place that thankfully can still be found in bottles like this.

$62.00 per bottle $669.60 per case



by Anthony Lynch


Whoever said Loire reds are light wines, think again. From south-facing vineyards in limestone soils, Cabernet Franc can display impressive magnitude, attaining full ripeness and sporting a firm tannic backbone. La Croix Boissée, perhaps Baudry’s top cuvée, expresses the full inky potential of Chinon, along with the freshness to create a harmonious balance. This wine’s muscle, coupled with the quality of the 2011 vintage, suggests it will live a very long and prosperous life. It’ll get better and better, more and more of a bargain, with age.

$39.00 per bottle $421.20 per case



This legendary parcel holds honorary grand cru status among Chinon vineyards. What’s more, the Cabernet Franc vines here date back to the 1930s, giving low yields and a concentrated Chinon of real consequence. This wine’s powerful structure, marvelous texture, and overall grandeur make me dream of the possibilities at table. Some suggestions, taken from Joguet’s website: “tournedos rossini, beef short ribs, and even stronger game in great vintages: venison steak, wild boar stew.” Or take the easy way out: an old-fashioned chuck roast with carrots, onions, and potatoes.

$52.00 per bottle $561.60 per case



Crossing the Loire river from Chinon brings us to Bourgueil, where the dynamic and biodynamic duo Catherine and Pierre Breton have focused their red wine production. Les Perrières is the Bretons’ answer to Baudry’s Croix Boissée and Joguet’s Dioterie: old-vine Cabernet Franc planted on clay and limestone slopes, giving a full-bodied and extremely long-lived Bourgueil that warrants decanting to be appreciated in its youth. The 2010 Perrières highlights that vineyard’s terroir with its chalky minerality, giving it a chiseled edge to complement the savory depth and fleshy berry fruit.

$42.00 per bottle $453.60 per case