Surprisingly enough, this Saint-Emilion shows a striking kinship with the Brunello above. The aromatics are typical of Merlot grown in illustrious Bordeaux soils, of course, but on the palate it presents a delicate, rose-petal touch and ultra-fine grain that put it in the same family as the Sesti. Crafted from less than two hectares of organic grapes and vinified in a cramped garage, this is silky Saint-Emilion at its most seductive. Both wines may develop a bouquet of truffles as they age.
Eric Jeanneteau spent his childhood following his grandparents around their vineyard and cellar, just outside St-Émilion on the Right Bank of the Dordogne River in the Bordelais. School was of little interest to him; he says all he wanted to do was run free among the vines alongside his grandfather. His enchantment with the métier began at the age of six. By the time he turned eight, he was already assisting his grandfather in the vines and in the cellar. It was only natural that he completed three degrees in viticulture—he was born to be a vigneron. In 1995, after managing various châteaux throughout the region, Eric returned home to take his place at the helm of the family domaine in St-Émilion, Tertre de la Mouleyre.
Often considered the wine capital of the world, Bordeaux and its wines have captured the minds, hearts, and wallets of wine drinkers for centuries. For many, the wines provide an inalienable benchmark against which all other wines are measured.
Bordeaux is divided into three winegrowing regions with the city that gives the region its name in the near geographical center. The “right bank,” or the area located east of the Dordogne River, produces wines that are predominantly Merlot with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The “left bank” is located to the west of the Garonne River and produces wines dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
The third region, Entre-Deux-Mers, lies between both rivers and produces white wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. Though technically in the left bank, it is worth noting the appellation of Sauternes, which produces arguably the world’s most famous sweet wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle as well.
Though many top Bordeaux wines are sold en primeur (in advance of their bottling) and often through a middleman known as a negoçiant, Kermit has always preferred to purchase directly from the winemaker. For more than three decades he has sought out small producers, who make classic Bordeaux wines and are willing to play outside the negoçiant system. This ethic has led to longstanding relationships, excellent prices, and perhaps most important—wines of great value and longevity.
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch
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