We usually consider the southern and northern Rhône valleys as separate regions, with Grenache dominating in the south and Syrah in the north. In the area where north and south meet, though—the Côtes du Vivarais—the distinction isn’t so clear-cut. Take Alain Gallety’s brooding red that, like a vinous Janus, faces both north and south. Here Syrah and Grenache are equal partners. The deep fruit and savory elements of the former join with the cherry and licorice-scented aromas of the latter in a hybrid that would make a Prius envious.
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.
Let the brett nerds retire into protective bubbles, and whenever they thirst for wine it can be passed in to them through a sterile filter. Those of us on the outside can continue to enjoy complex, natural, living wines.
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