Surrounded by storied red wine districts like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras, and Lirac, Tavel is the only AOC in the southern Rhône dedicated entirely to rosé production. And what a rosé it is! Famously lauded by Ernest Hemingway, who declared it his favorite wine, and a staple on the table of at least two French kings, Tavel takes its pink wine seriously. Unlike many rosés, which use second-class fruit not deemed suitable for reds, the raw material here is picked exclusively for the purpose of creating a top-class rosé. Guillaume Demoulin, a fourth-generation vigneron, crafts Trinquevedel’s Tavel—a blend dominated by Grenache—by way of a skin maceration at cold temperature lasting up to two days, depending on the vintage. This process draws out aromatics of wild strawberry and thyme, while achieving a seductive deep pink color. Delightful with a bowl of olives in the summer, this no-nonsense rosé also has the structure to stand up to anything off the barbecue.
Guillaume Demoulin is the fourth generation of his family to farm the vineyards of Château de Trinquevedel. His great-grandfather, Eugène, bought the 18th century château in 1936—a decision that coincided with the establishment of Tavel’s A.O.C that same year. Guillaume, with the help of his wife, Céline, farms thirty-two hectares that are situated in the hills of the Montagne Noire. Their stony vineyards resemble those of the famous Châteauneuf, comprised of sand and galets roulés. The climate and sun exposure produce grapes with tremendous concentration and power. The rosés of Château de Trinquevedel consistently enjoy aromas of ripe, red berries with notes of the ubiquitous spicy garrigue.
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.
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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