If you’re unfamiliar with the Côtes du Vivarais, imagine treating your palate to a cross between Saint Joseph and Gigondas. Savory and elegant, recalling a harmonious medley of spices and flowers, this red also features the fleshy, dark fruit we’ve come to expect in southern appellations. Hidden away in the Ardèche, the Galletys are starting to turn heads in France. This rare, ageable red provides excellent value and is a must-try for amateurs of unknown terroirs.
The talented Alain Gallety began making wine in the Côtes du Vivarais alongside his father. Though the Galletys reside here, making their wines with pride, determination, and focus, their minds are frequently traveling to other regions in France, closely studying the techniques of their contemporaries. Alain takes every aspect of the process seriously. To grow the quality of grapes he wants, he farms his fifteen hectares of vineyards organically. The wines are then aged in Burgundian barrels, as they believe them to produce wines with finesse. Alain Gallety is indeed a man of vision. Domaine Gallety is a new acquisition to the KLWM portfolio, but one well-positioned with wines of such brightness, density, and impeccable balance.
The southern Rhône valley is Grenache country. It’s also known for its stones. With a viticulture history dating back well before the Popes arrived in the 12th century and one of France’s oldest appellations d'origine contrôlée, Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe, the southern Rhône is unquestionably one of France’s best known and premier winegrowing regions. The wines have the pedigree and age-worthiness of Burgundy and Bordeaux, but with a rustic, Mediterranean character. Like most wines from southern France, the reds, whites, and rosés are blends. Filling out the Grenache for the reds and rosés, you’ll often find Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault. The common white grape varieties are Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Viognier, Roussane, and Marsanne among others. From the alluvial riverbed stones found in Lirac, Tavel, and Châteauneuf to the limestone cliffs of the Dentelles de Montmirail that influence Beaumes-de-Venise (where you’ll find excellent Muscat), Vacqueyras, and Gigondas, great terroir abounds.
Kermit’s entrance in the region came in the mid 1970s on his first trip with Richard Olney, an American ex-pat and friend of Alice Waters. On that trip, Richard introduced Kermit to the Brunier family of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe. Soon after, Kermit began importing the Brunier’s wines—their Châteauneuf-du-Pape “La Crau” bottling remains a staple of our portfolio today. In the late 1990s Kermit teamed up with the Brunier family to purchase the famed Gigondas estate, Domaine Les Pallières. More than 40 years later, we now import wines from fifteen southern Rhône domaines spanning the entire area of the region.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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