SommarivaItaly | Veneto | Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore
Cinzia Sommariva’s Prosecco, hailing from the heart of the Prosecco zone near the town of Conegliano, is an obvious choice when looking for a wine for a celebration, or simply to enliven the senses. And while Prosecco maybe be very easy to drink, by no means is it easy to make. Cinzia and her parents farm thirty-five hectares of Glera, the Prosecco grape, in these gentle hills that lead into the towering Dolomites to the north. At Sommariva, the objective is quality, even if it means putting in extra effort, such as working sustainably in the vineyards and choosing to harvest by hand. While there is no doubt that Cinzia’s wine tastes great as an aperitivo or with a light antipasto, try drinking it over the course of an entire meal—like a true veneziano—to experience its remarkable versatility!
If you’re a loyal Kermit customer, this wine probably needs no introduction. It’s one of our biggest success stories and best-selling wines and has been for decades. It’s fresh and delicious, and it smells of apricots, grapefruit, small red berries, and sunshine. It tastes like crushed raspberries and a day on the beach. We highly recommend picking up a magnum as this wine seems to go down way too quickly.
Alsace may be best known for its racy and perfumed whites, but as we have witnessed in the last few years, the region has serious potential to produce fine Pinot Noir, too. A dry and increasingly warm climate, along with myriad soil types that give rise to diverse expressions of the grape, make Alsace the source of some truly impressive reds, which often come at great value. At Kuentz Bas, winemaker Samuel Tottoli sources his Pinot Noir from vineyards of marl and limestone in the village of Husseren-les Châteaux. Thanks to the beautifully ripe, healthy harvest in 2015, he was able to vinify using a large proportion (roughly half) of whole grape clusters, without de-stemming. This semi-carbonic maceration—a technique traditionally employed in Beaujolais—gives loads of lively, juicy fruit, notes of sweet spice, and dangerously supple tannins. The wine was then aged in foudres and bottled without filtration. Watch out: this Pinot goes down way too easily.
No, we did not forget a digit when typing up the price of this wine, a nine year-old Bordeaux straight from the cellar of an organic vigneron in the heart of the Right Bank. The magic of so–called “satellite appellations,” as we refer to Lussac in relation to neighboring Saint-Émilion, is that there is more variation in terroir within each AOC than between the two. A great Lussac can therefore outperform an average Saint-Émilion, but its price will never come close. Bellevue sits on a plateau of pure chalk, which gives the wine a flavor as site specific as can be. It manifests itself in its appetizing acidity, stony tannins, and lively fresh fruit that make this Lussac delicious now and for many years to come.
The first of many words to come to mind when I think of the Montanets and their wines is unpretentious. In an era of unfortunate and rampant “luxurization” of Burgundy, here is a family that has achieved enormous success in France, as well as in export markets the world over, yet manages to keep a modest approach in all they do. Value, drinkability, organic farming, and noninterventionist winemaking are the pillars of all their wines. How often are those words associated with Burgundy anymore? We’ve been working with the Montanets for nearly fifteen years now, a partnership that was a no-brainer, given that Bernard Raveneau first taught Jean Montanet the techniques and importance of getting things right in the vineyard before anything comes into the cellar, and it was Marcel Lapierre who showed Jean the splendor and purity of natural winemaking. It has always been and remains a great pleasure to work with Jean and his son Valentin, both of whom are ever smiling, ever optimistic, and quick to joke at their own expense. But don’t be fooled. Their wines—every last one of them—are world-class, serious, and, most important, delicious Burgundies.
The 2014 Bourgogne Vézelay Blanc “Galerne,” from their Montanet-Thoden label, is grown on the ancient limestone soils that put Vézelay on the wine map. That limestone provides a Chablis-like precision, and the local northern wind (Galerne) on this parcel keeps the grapes dry and ripe, giving ample body and character, too. Here’s the perfect representation to show why Vézelay has its own appellation.
Rosé has become so fashionable it’s almost a brand, but as with any other wine, there is tremendous variation in style and quality based on production zone, the grape varieties involved, farming, and, crucially, winemaking. For all the carefree pleasure and refreshment rosé provides, remember that it can also be a serious wine that expresses a sense of place. Terrebrune’s Bandol epitomizes this idea of a terroir-driven rosé, from the nose of thyme and white peach, redolent of a Provençal summer, to its mouthwateringly salty finish, a reminder that the sea is just a stone’s throw away. For conclusive evidence that this is no ordinary rosé, save a bottle for five, ten, or twenty years—a pleasant surprise awaits.
Domaine Tempier epitomizes the idea of open-armed hospitality—it's no coincidence the great Provençal cuisine of matriarch Lulu Peyraud has been immortalized in Kermit's early writings as well as in Richard Olney's recipe books, such as Lulu's Provençal Table. One could even argue that Lulu's influence on Alice Waters and her pioneering restaurant, Chez Panisse, shaped America's culinary landscape over the last forty years. Alice wrote: “It is impossible for me not to love the wines of Domaine Tempier. Once you have visited the Peyrauds in their 17th-century house surrounded by perfectly tended vines, eaten Lulu's garlicky food cooked over the coals, and drunk the wines with Lucien in his cellar, it is clear that they love wine and they love people drinking wine. Their dedication and belief in the beauty of the ancient Mourvèdre grape is positively convincing.” With the chewy, fragrant 2015, something garlicky cooked over coals will do just fine. In the cooler months, a rich Provençal stew will ensure that you stay warm—check out Richard's compilation of Lulu's recipes for inspiration.
There is probably no wine more identifiable to our company than VT, as most of us call it around here. Kermit calls it Vieux Télé. The quality and longevity of this noble Rhône red is so incredibly consistent that we almost take it for granted (stress on the almost). As the number of offers hitting your inbox and mailbox climbs to unprecedented highs, it is important to step back and remember the tried and true, the old reliables that remain the best and surest investments in fine wine today. It is also important to remember the heights that old-vine Grenache can reach when planted on these arid, stony plateaus in the shadows of Mount Ventoux. Brothers Daniel and Frédéric Brunier own one of the most enviable sites in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the magical moonscape of La Crau. Their terroir, their savoir-faire, and their steadfast adherence to tradition have kept these wines among the world’s best, and also among its greatest price-to-quality ratios when you consider their proven track record for aging and developing into marvels. Thirty-plus vintages with KLWM and still going strong, VT remains a pride and a joy to sell and to enjoy.