You may know that a group of owls is called a parliament, but did you know that a group of apes is called a shrewdness? Then there’s a thunder of hippopotami, and a richness of martens—clever, amusing names that reference the animals’ characteristics. So what do you call a collection of delicious, well-made wines that offer serious bang for your buck?
An amalgamation of many disparate wine regions under a single umbrella term, France’s “Southwest” covers a massive amount of ground. Its immensely varied terrain encompasses a wealth of climates and soil types, including terroirs geographically and geologically related to the Bordelais, appellations more similar to those of the Languedoc, and completely unique grape-growing pockets tucked in the foothills of the Pyrenees, near the Spanish border. Factor in the remarkable collection of native grapes specific to these parts, and it is even more apparent how much less homogeneous—and more mysterious—the Southwest is than, say, Burgundy or Bordeaux. This diversity makes it an especially exciting place to look for wines that offer incomparable regional character as well as excellent value. While Southwestern appellations lie at the intersection of Atlantic and Mediterranean climate zones, the most meridional areas are under the influence of a third, all-commanding geographical feature: the Pyrenees. The hilly landscape in the shadow of these mighty peaks is remarkably green—the relatively cool temperatures and healthy rainfall are counterintuitive considering these are among mainland France’s southernmost vineyards. These are not big, ripe, southern bruisers; rather, their vibrant balance recalls that of Loire wines more than those from the nearby Mediterranean rim.
Among our most inspiring recent discoveries is undoubtedly Clos Larrouyat, a small domaine my dad and I came across on a recent trip to the Southwest. Their wines have featured prominently on our dinner table since, and we have begun adding them to the family cellar alongside more famous names who at one point were also relative unknowns. You could say this young vigneron couple just gets it, which is all the more impressive considering they are still early in their career.
When I started in the wine business, the press wasn’t too kind to Beaujolais, which it often ignored completely or at best gave a patronizing review with a low score to boot. I couldn’t help but think how far we’ve come when I recently read a glowing review of this proudly old-school Moulin-à-Vent, full of praise of its aromas, elegance, concentration, and liveliness, with a score once reserved for cult Cabs and unobtainable Bordeaux....
A client pointed at the two or three stacks of red Burgundy in the shop and asked, “You used to specialize in Burgundy, didn’t you?” I’ve spent more time tasting in Burgundy than in all other wine regions put together. Burgundy remains the king of wines in my vinous aristocracy. If you ask me, I specialize in Burgundy. However, I’m choosier than I used to be. Certainly this is a logical consequence of the formidable prices in Burgundy. The wine in the bottle must be worth its price no matter what it says on the label. But at the same time, discovering the wines of Hubert de Montille in Volnay changed my aesthetic approach to Burgundy. Sloppy vinification and dishonest wines bug me. I’d rather drink de Montille’s simple, flawless Bourgogne Rouge than a chaptalized, filtered (and often stretched) Grand Cru. Because, as a favorite California vintner from Forestville put it, “de Montille doesn’t screw ’em up!” All this to introduce a new hero, Henri Jayer of Vosne-Rom...
1972, it began; 2022, it continues. This is not an epitaph. KLWM is alive, well, and all of us are proud to celebrate fifty years of bringing you the best wines France and Italy have to offer. To honor this milestone, we’re taking a trip down memory lane in each of this year’s brochures, looking back in our archives at some of the incredible domaines we’ve had the pleasure to work with. This month, we remember one of Burgundy’s greats. On a similar note, we are also highlighting a newer import that really gets our taste buds excited in our “Looking Forward” segment, anticipating who will be the future stars of the portfolio—this time, a young vigneron couple in Southwest France who have real touch. Don’t miss ’em! Thanks for making our adventures on the wine route possible. Here’s to fifty more years! —Kermit, Anthony, and Dixon
Kermit once said...
A good doctor prescribed the wine of Nuits-Saint-Georges to the Sun King, Louis XIV, when he suffered an unknown maladie. When the king’s health was restored the tasty remedy enjoyed a vogue at court. Lord, send me a doctor like that!
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa