Kermit Lynch was raised in San Luis Obispo, but his name has become synonymous with French and Italian wines. In 1972, with a $5,000 loan and maybe a bit of gumption, this writer/musician opened Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant with thirty-five cases of wine stacked on the floor. Attracted by the Old World wine cultures of Europe, Kermit became a retailer, distributor, and national importer for authentic wines that express their terroir. Much like his close friends, the late food writer Richard Olney and Chez Panisse’s Founder Alice Waters, Kermit’s influence has been enduring. He has had so much success shining the spotlight on small, artisan producers that he has won two James Beard awards and was knighted by the French government with their prestigious “Legion d’Honneur”. Kermit’s creative nature continues to extend beyond the two doors of his Berkeley storefront. In 1998, he purchased the historic Domaine Les Pallières in Gigondas in partnership with his friends, the Brunier brothers of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe. In addition to having three books published, Adventures on the Wine Route (1988, Veuve Cliquot Wine Book of the Year), Inspiring Thirst (2004), and the 25th Anniversary Edition: Adventures on the Wine Route (2013), his passion for roots music has driven him to record four CDs so far. Kermit and his wife, photographer Gail Skoff, divide their time between Berkeley, California and Provence, France—where Kermit says he is “near enough to Domaine Tempier that I can fill up the trunk of my car whenever I need to.”
Lulu is Lulu Peyraud of Domaine Tempier. Aioli is the garlicky mayonnaise of Provence, but the word aioli can also refer to the mayonnaise and all the assorted goodies onto which the people of Provence traditionally heap it: sweet potato, carrots, artichokes, hard-boiled egg, sea snails, salt cod, octopus stew, garden tomatoes, beets, and so on. For grand occasions when . . .
At this moment in the world of fine wine, I cannot think of a better place to put your money than in Louis Barruol’s 2015s. The artistry is masterful, and nowhere is the 2015 vintage greater than in the northern Rhône. Here are three of our memorable 2015 Barruol/Lynch selections.
At San Francisco State in the 1960’s, I took an incredibly rewarding course called something like American Studies, in which we tried to find clues to American character by reading Emerson, Melville, Paine, Thoreau, Hawthorne and others. I was especially taken by one of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories, “The Birthmark,” although it did not dawn on me . . .
Back in 1969 before Bacchus waved his magic wand and made me into a wine importer, I was banging about Europe on a penny-pinching holiday. Needing a rest en route from Barcelona to Salzburg, I pulled off the highway to find a hotel. The nearest village was Cassis, proving that accidents are not always tragic. I did not know . . .
Before opening a wine shop in 1972, I was yet another starving rock ‘n’ roll musician, one who could barely afford to buy his own harmonica. The competition was pretty stiff back then, you know, people like Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger…Plus I had a couple of handicaps: I couldn’t remember the words to my own songs, and cocaine gave me nosebleeds. Still, I think to myself, if I’d had musicians like Keith Richards and Charlie Watts backing me up, I mighta been a contender.
Oh well, at least my sensitive nose came in handy later on.
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