The singular Tavel AOP stands out not just for its production of bright red rosé but also because it happens to be the only appellation in France from which blanc and rouge are excluded. For winemakers Guillaume and Céline Demoulin, this means all their best plots from the hilltops of the Montagne Noire are destined for one heady blend of Grenache, Clairette, Cinsault, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. This dark, autumnal rosé is a beacon of tradition in a sea of paler styles. Its bold, yet versatile personality can carry a meal from the heartiest apéritif of rich rillettes or briny black tapenade all the way through meatier courses like crispy whole fish or garlicky spring lamb.
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.
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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