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.

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