The rarest of the Reverdy cuvées, Ortus was really an invention at the urging of Kermit, who has a fondness for Sauvignon with full malolactic fermentation, aged in wood, bottled unfiltered, generally treated like a white Burgundy. Kermit once told me the story of how Didier Dagueneau asked him which barrel in his cellar was Kermit’s favorite after he had tasted them all, and Kermit picked the barrel that Didier not so fondly referred to as “the mistake” (that is, the only one that did its malo). You have probably never imagined that Sauvignon could taste like this. Serve it as you would a Chardonnay from Burgundy, grandly.
Hippolyte Reverdy’s family has been making wine in the charming village of Verdigny for many generations. The Reverdys raised goats on a traditional multi-crop farm, making small quantities of wine for local consumption. It wasn’t until after WWII that Hippolyte and his sons began increasing production and bottling under their own label. Michel joined his father and brothers at the domaine in 1971. Shortly after Kermit began working with the domaine in 1983, the passing of Hippolyte and untimely deaths of Michel’s two brothers brought a climate of sadness to the domaine. Slowly but surely, Michel has found his own rhythm. He crafts an unfiltered Sancerre rouge in traditional demi-muids—one of a kind, it’s the talk of Sancerre.
The defining feature of the Loire Valley, not surprisingly, is the Loire River. As the longest river in France, spanning more than 600 miles, this river connects seemingly disparate wine regions. Why else would Sancerre, with its Kimmeridgian limestone terroir be connected to Muscadet, an appellation that is 250 miles away?
Secondary in relevance to the historical, climatic, environmental, and cultural importance of the river are the wines and châteaux of the Jardin de la France. The kings and nobility of France built many hundreds of châteaux in the Loire but wine preceded the arrival of the noblesse and has since out-lived them as well.
Diversity abounds in the Loire. The aforementioned Kimmderidgian limestone of Sancerre is also found in Chablis. Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur boast the presence of tuffeau, a type of limestone unique to the Loire that has a yellowish tinge and a chalky texture. Savennières has schist, while Muscadet has volcanic, granite, and serpentinite based soils. In addition to geologic diversity, many, grape varieties are grown there too: Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Melon de Bourgogne are most prevalent, but (to name a few) Pinot Gris, Grolleau, Pinot Noir, Pineau d’Aunis, and Folle Blanche are also planted. These myriad of viticultural influences leads to the high quality production of every type of wine: red, white, rosé, sparkling, and dessert.
Like the Rhône and Provence, some of Kermit’s first imports came from the Loire, most notably the wines of Charles Joguet and Château d’Epiré—two producers who are featured in Kermit’s book Adventures on the Wine Route and with whom we still work today.
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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