February Newsletter: 2013 Vieux Télégraphe PA, Mark’s Farewell Sampler, Cellar-worthy Selections

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

Farewell Sampler >

by Mark Congero

Mark_Congero_250Folks, it has been a great run here at KLWM, but after eight years, I am moving on. I am, along with my wife and daughter, headed to Maui. Island life awaits: warm sun, tropical breezes, and delicious wine . . . well, two outta three ain’t bad! I have had a lot of fun writing my seasonal samplers, and I hope that you all have enjoyed them as well. It has been my pleasure, truly, to taste and then write about so many great wines, and a joy to find recipes to pair with them. Whether the theme was a Provençal summer or an Italian winter or preaching about the virtues of local, sustainable, organic food, my goal was to make you hungry and thirsty and, if you tried the recipes, satisfied!

My time here means a lot to me. I will remember it fondly and I will miss all my colleagues and the great client relationships, but most of all I am going to miss the wine! But who knows—there may be some adventures on the KLWM wine route still to come.

Please enjoy my Farewell Sampler. In the carton you’ll find some of the best recipes from past samplers, and (as always) you’ll find a mouthwatering selection of wines, including a few of my all-time favorites.

Bon appétit and aloha!

per bottle

Clairette de Die Brut • Domaine Achard-Vincent


2013 Muscadet • Michel Brégeon


2013 Edelzwicker • Meyer-Fonné


2013 Petit Chablis • Roland Lavantureux


2013 Pigato “Vigneto Ca da Rena” • Punta Crena


2013 Bourgueil “Alouettes” • Chanteleuserie


2012 Languedoc Rouge • Château de Lascaux


2013 Dolcetto d’Alba “La Costa” • Piero Benevelli


2013 Vaucluse Rouge “Le Pigeoulet en Provence”

Frédéric et Daniel Brunier


2011 Lussac St. Emilion “Les Griottes” • Bellevue


2012 Marsannay Rouge “Les Longeroies”

Régis Bouvier


2009 Bandol Rouge • Domaine de Terrebrune


Normally $267.90

Special Sampler Price

$199 (a 25% discount)


by Anthony Lynch


Welcome to the Valle Isarco, Italy’s northernmost wine district before the border with Austria, a country celebrated for its fine Grüner Veltliners. Yet Manni Nössing’s Veltliner, grown at 700 meters above sea level, could give many an Austrian wine a run for its money. This mountain man prefers a high-acid style, which does not preclude this clean, racy, mineral-packed white from expressing elegant fruit. A passage in neutral acacia barrels polishes the edges of this pristine Dolomite creation.

$30.00 per bottle $324.00 per case


From the first sip I ever took of Nössing’s Kerner, I was immediately captivated by this white’s exotic perfume and screaming acidity. It screamed, Steep vineyards high in the Alps! Impeccable vinification! Minerals galore! Try Nössing’s 2013, recently arrived in our shop, to taste this exceptional rendition of a rare grape. It features a nuanced tropical fragrance with important weight and complexity, underpinned by the stony nerve one would expect from this mountainous terrain.

$30.00 per bottle $324.00 per case


This mountain white does not taste like any other Sauvignon Blanc on Earth. Beautifully defined, it shows pretty hints of ripe grapefruit and candied lemon. Yet the cutting Dolomite minerality takes over any overt fruitiness, giving great structure to complement a subtle creaminess. Graceful, balanced, and of ample weight, this is serious high-altitude Sauvignon that can be enjoyed now and for years to come.

$32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case


 Peter Dipoli’s Voglar vineyards, 600 meters above sea level © Anthony Lynch

The Struggle of the Languedoc

by Chris Santini

Hard to imagine but true, Gaddafi once sent a team of Libyan messengers deep in the hills of the Languedoc to meet with a group of angry and exasperated vignerons. The year was 1973, and a century of boiling tensions between these growers and the omnipotent local négociants had culminated in gunfights with local police. The négociants had amassed fortunes by importing boat tankers full of Algerian wine, mixing it with local wine and unsavory additives, calling it “Languedoc,” and then sending it up by rail to Paris to supply the working masses with their daily four liters of liquid strength. Gaddafi’s offer to these growers was unlimited armament and training camps in the desert in exchange for the group declaring war on the French government and launching a revolution. The growers promptly declined and sent the Libyans home. This wasn’t about revolution; it was about reclaiming the wines of the Languedoc. Still to this day, the battle rages on: a shadowy group called CRAV, armed with axes and hunting rifles, regularly sabotages oil-refinery-sized tanks of manipulated “wine.” They fight for the Languedoc that was once synonymous for stony terroir, garrigue-infused air, and a distinct Mediterranean soul. True Languedoc is a wonderful thing, yet the name is still a broad cover for far too many cheap, industrial, and at times fraudulent wines of international ilk that continue to harm its reputation and make it difficult for honest growers to make an honest living. We can do our part by drinking our share of real Languedoc.

Pic Saint Loup

Pic Saint Loup

A good place to start is the Lascaux Languedoc rouge, fresh and full, an incredible value of pure, approachable limestone-grown organic juice. Then tackle the La Roque Pic Saint Loup rouge, an herbal, spicy, biodynamic wine that is a rare southern French wine to show minerality before fruit. And finally, save the Mas Champart terroir-driven Causse du Bousquet for a special meal. It’s a deep, juicy, long-aging wine from the pioneers of Saint-Chinian. As angry protesters once shouted in the streets of Montpellier back in 1907, “Vive le vin naturel! Mort aux fraudeurs!”


2012 Languedoc Rouge • Château de Lascaux >

2012 Pic Saint Loup Rouge • Château La Roque >

2012 Saint-Chinian Rouge “Causse du Bousquet” • Mas Champart >

January Newsletter: Bordeaux Trembles, Lapierre Morgon, Value of The Month, Italian Crowd-Pleasers

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…


by Jane Berg


Among the things I love most about living in France is what the French call the apéritif dînatoire. A proper translation doesn’t exist, though the concept is straightforward enough: A gathering of friends over an abundance of wine, charcuterie, and fromage. The ambiance is casual and spirited, and the wines—nicknamed les vins de soif—are those meant to be drunk with a healthy thirst and zero pretension. The king of wines for such occasions is without contest Lapierre’s classic Morgon. Veteran Beaujolais drinkers know what I mean, while newcomers will catch on immediately upon draining their first glass. A word to the wise: You won’t want to run out! For the real experience, pair with a slab of pork rillettes, slices of plump saucisson, and spoonfuls of soft Saint-Marcellin. À votre santé!

$32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case

Camille and Mathieu Lapierre       © Romain Renoux



by Dixon Brooke


The Champalous produce this wine from a walled-in clos around their home on the limestone plateau above the town of Vouvray. It is a dry Chenin Blanc fermented and aged in oak (rare in Vouvray these days!) for 12 to 18 months and then aged in bottle for another year or more before being released. Portail is a tale of two characters: smooth, opulent fruit cascades across the palate in layers, while a chalky streak tightens up the finish and leaves you refreshed and coming back for more. Its versatility with cuisine is one of its most exciting qualities, and it is a great cellar candidate as well.

$38.00 per bottle $410.40 per case



I learned during my last visit that Michel’s father André still insists on pruning the vines on these terraces perched on the steep slopes all by himself. Nobody else is allowed to take sécateur to vine on this hallowed ground. André is now in his eighties. These terraces are home to some of the Quenards’ most prized Roussanne vines. These vines, firmly rooted in mountain limestone, produce an intriguing, delicious, and noble white that ingeniously marries the honeyed, apricot richness of Roussanne with alpine freshness.

$33.00 per bottle $356.40 per case



Boxler’s Riesling Brand is an imposing presence—bone-dry, serious, grandiose. I just tasted the recently bottled 2013 with Jean Boxler at the winery and it, too, is cut from the same cloth (or stone). The grand cru Brand is composed of granite, and Boxler’s parcel is in the center of the rather steep slope, the historic center. The style is masculine and powerful, with a very direct personality. It is both fine-grained and big-boned. I expect it to flesh out over time, so those who are willing to be patient with it will be rewarded handsomely.

$79.00 per bottle $853.20 per case

Journal of a Harvester

by Sarah Hernan

Since the 2014 harvest is complete in France and Italy, you may have read reports from the different producers giving their first impressions about the new vintage. Yet we rarely consider what harvest is like from a grape picker’s point of view.


Harvest 2014 at Domaine du Salvard, Loire

As wine tourism becomes more popular year after year, certain vineyards offer their customers a chance to participate in the harvest: one or several days working as a grape picker, experiencing the life of a vigneron. This sounds pretty exciting and the formula is generally very successful.

But harvest is not always as enjoyable as the wine tourism publicity makes it out to be.

Anybody who has been a harvester at least one time in his life—and I don’t mean just for one or two days, but during a whole harvesting season—will agree with me when I say that the exercise is no pleasure cruise.


Harvest 2014 at Domaine d’Aupilhac, Languedoc

In France, harvest jobs are often carried out by people who work in the vineyard all year long, but most of the time students, backpackers, or temporary workers make up the crew.

During the harvest season, the weather is unpredictable. Mother Nature likes to give the vignerons and their staff a hard time. The harvester has to wear the perfect equipment to overcome either blazing heat, or torrents of water. In a single day you can experience the four seasons, crawling in the mud in the morning and then baking like a steak on the grill in the afternoon.

In addition to the weather, the vineyard’s topography could be a nightmare. Steep slopes and huge stones turn a simple walk into an obstacle course. In the northern Rhône Valley, for example, some plots are so steep that the harvesters are hired based on their climbing skills as they have to pick the grapes while tied to a rope.

However, this description is not complete, as it misses the most important element of harvest: the human aspect. The atmosphere during harvest is one of my best memories. In spite of the hard work, joy and good humor are always there. Songs, jokes, and laughter are the perfect fuel to keep going day after day. Depending on where you are working, you might even have the chance to be fed by the producer’s family and enjoy a delicious and generous meal.


Catherine Breton during harvest 2014, Loire

While the grapes are fermenting in the cellars, post-harvest feasts can begin. They are unforgettable experiences, totally worth the tiresome weeks of picking. Post-harvest feasts also mark the beginning of the long wait to taste the new vintage and enjoy the fruit of your hard labor.

If, like me, patience is not your middle name, I invite you to try the new wines that have arrived in the shop. I am sure these delightful treats will be very helpful to make your waiting much more bearable.

MANNI Nossing harvest_400

Harvest 2014 at Manni Nössing, Alto Adige

A Morning with Peter Dipoli

Peter Dipoli represents one of the most recent additions to our portfolio, and what an honor it is to work with these singular wines from such an unbelievably beautiful place. Just south of Bolzano in northern Italy’s Alto Adige, Peter’s vineyards blend right in to the breathtaking landscape of the Dolomites. A native of the region, he studied the land intensely in a search for great vineyards, ultimately settling on high-altitude sites flanking the Adige Valley to craft his one-of-a-kind wines. A recent visit with Peter shed some light on this fascinating terroir and the making of some of Northern Italy’s most compelling bottlings.


Alto Adige possesses a unique climate, with influences from both the Mediterranean to the south and the Alps to the north. It is probably the only place in the world where one can observe cypresses, olive trees, palm trees, and snowy peaks in the same frame.


High above the valley floor, Peter’s vines benefit from cool nights and a long ripening season. “Iugum” is produced from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines in clay and limestone soils, in one of the region’s warmer subzones.


The “Voglar” bottling is made from these Sauvignon Blanc vines, planted on steep limestone slopes at a spectacular 600 meters elevation.


Peter’s white, “Voglar”, is aged for eight months in these large acacia botti.


Cabernet Sauvignon for 2014 Iugum completing fermentation.


“Iugum” is aged for one year in small- and medium-sized barrels and an additional year in bottle before release.


Peter Dipoli (left)  with Dixon Brooke of KLWM.


2010 Voglar | Available online >

2009 Iugum | Available online >

December Newsletter: Legendary Quintarelli, Sweet Temptation, Big Bottles, Holiday Gift Selections

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…


Open Sunday, December 21 &

Monday, December 22

11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

**Yes! We’ll be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.**


by Katya Karagadayeva

Grilled broccoli romanesco and Belgian endive salad. Boudin blanc and fingerling potatoes, escarole, and apples. Oven-roasted king trumpet mushrooms . . . In short, I recently had dinner at one of my favorite East Bay restaurants, Camino. The food is outstanding and the atmosphere delightfully laid-back. Since I like to try as many items on their menu as possible, I brought friends, plus a bottle of Cachet Or—after all, the holidays are just around the corner, and this juicy, accessible Champagne goes with everything.

The Cachet Or has a beautiful, firm texture, just the right amount of richness, a delicious fruitiness (apricot, peach, a hint of anise), and a touch of minerality. The magic of this brut is that it stood on its own and complemented every single dish—from radicchio salad to persimmon pudding. I am grateful to the ladies of J. Lassalle for Champagne that can be enjoyed with anything on any given day.

NV Brut “Cachet Or” 1er Cru

J. Lassalle

$39.00 per bottle $421.20 per case


by Dixon Brooke



Thierry Boucard created this incredible Cabernet Franc from old vines planted in the prime tuffeau slopes of Bourgueil. Thierry’s father, Moïse, was also legendary in the region for his Bourgueils, the proof of which still rests in moldy bottles in the tuffeau cellars beneath the Boucard vineyards. Thick, grippy tannin gives way to great complexity with extended bottle age. Age a case yourself, rather than relying on our rare cellar releases. Recently tasted examples of great Boucard Beauvais: 1990, 1989, 1986, 1983, 1976.

$18.00 per bottle $194.40 per case



What a white Burgundy this is, a sleeper that runs under most folks’ radar. Les Hautés sits on the hillside behind Meursault, as the slope turns east toward the village of Auxey-Duresses. It is the extension of the Vireuils lieu-dit of Meursault, where white limestone is abundant. The line demarcating the boundary between Meursault and Auxey-Duresses sits between these two vineyards. Jean-Marc Vincent works his parcel like a grand cru, and the results speak for themselves. This beauty is easily capable of aging and improving for ten years.

$52.00 per bottle $561.60 per case


Piero Palmucci’s project at Poggio di Sotto was nothing short of remarkable. He proved definitively, in the relatively short span of twenty years, that Montalcino is capable of making some of the greatest red wines in the world. He wasn’t the first, but for me his work most significantly highlighted the importance of, and the difference between, the subzones of Montalcino. The steep, calcareous marl slopes of Castelnuovo dell’Abate can produce wines with the finesse and longevity of great Burgundy, and no vintage more excitingly showcases this possibility over the last ten years than this one. No cellar is complete without it.

$175.00 per bottle $1,890.00 per case


by Anthony Lynch

Prosecco rosé? Technically speaking, no, but that captures the spirit of this frizzante rosato. Sommariva—the family-run estate in the foothills around Conegliano, in the heart of the Prosecco zone—has created this masterful blend of the seductively colored local Raboso with an ever-so-subtle touch of Pinot Nero. The inaugural shipment of this brand-new wine, from one of KLWM’s most consistent and reliable growers, has much in common with the estate’s standard Prosecco: liveliness, grace, charm, and real class. What differentiates it is its enchanting perfume of candied little berries and tart, mouth-watering finish accented by the most delicate sparkle. Stock up for the holidays and beyond!


$14.95 per bottle $161.46 per case

November Newsletter: Jules Chauvet Revisited, New Arrivals from Benevelli, Alsatian Riesling, Champagne Sale!

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

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…



What is it that gets us excited each year for the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau? Is it foggy memories of Nouveau celebrations from the past? NO! It is the yearly update we receive from our winemakers, whose enthusiasm is nearly overwhelming. Here’s what we heard this year from Domaine Dupeuble:

The small quantity of grapes and a good concentration in the berries gave the wine its lovely deep red color, aromas of blackberries and currants, lifted by subtle spicy notes with silky tannins. We can’t wait to have you taste it!

The wine arrives in the shop on Thursday, November 20. We’ll sell it by the bottle and the case. If you’d like a glass, head next door to Bartavelle Coffee and Wine Bar. Give us a call anytime this month to secure some Nouveau for yourself and we’ll have it ready to be picked up or shipped on the 20th.


Not in Berkeley? That’s okay because our Nouveau is sold in many states. Visit the webpage below for a list of retailers around the nation who will carry the wine starting Thursday, November 20.





by Julia Issleib

Earlier this year, during my first trip across the Alps in a decade, my conversational skills in Italian were quite limited. So I stuck to nodding, smiling, and the occasional “Sì, sì,” “Esattamente,” “Benissimo,” “Delizioso.” I kept “È veramente buonissimo!” for special occasions.

My visit to Benevelli in cold and foggy Monforte d’Alba with winemaker Massimo Benevelli was one of those. After a rather shy welcome from under his woolen hat, pulled down to his eyebrows, he quickly opened up while showing me around the vineyards and the cellar. He is as passionate as he is humble. More approachable than some Piedmont reds you may have encountered, his wines are delicate and elegant, yet deeply rooted in the terroir and full of character.


Dolcetto—the little sweet one—is a reference to the low acidity of this variety. And yet the crunchy tannins equally typical of the grape guarantee structure and freshness. Thanks to the absence of wood in the winemaking, this Dolcetto keeps its red fruit character and will be perfect to start a meal alongside fresh antipasti, beef carpaccio, or vitello tonnato.

$17.00 per bottle $183.60 per case


What Bourgogne Pinot Noir is to great red crus of Burgundy, Langhe Nebbiolo is to Barolo—you should buy a case while you wait for the Baroli in your cellar to be ready to drink. Benevelli’s version is floral and supple. As Massimo explains, given its strong tannic structure, Nebbiolo shows the best results in cooler years. In hot years, tannins might overpower the soft nature of the grape. Guess what? Esattamente—2013 was a cool year!

$22.00 per bottle $237.60 per case


Beautifully balanced, with an intense nose, this 2010 is quite approachable for a young Barolo. Nonetheless, by the time this exquisite creature will fully express itself, my Italian will have vastly improved. Even then, I will probably simply utter, “Veramente buonissimo!

$49.00 per bottle $529.20 per case

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