A pure Syrah bottling from the land of Grenache. Syrah soaks up its surroundings as if it were at home, offering wild flavors of the Provençal countryside gently wrapped in a thick coat of tooth-staining deep purple fruit. The cool nights at elevation confer lovely freshness to this unhindered expression of southern sunshine.
The seemingly reserved façade of Michèle Aubèry-Laurent melts quickly when she speaks about her wines. She and her husband, Philippe, bottled their first vintage in 1990, in the town of Montbrison-sur-Lez. In 1999, in an unexpected twist of fate, Philippe was killed in a tragic accident and Michèle was suddenly left with three children, vineyards, and the winery. Over the years, Michèle discovered her own creative voice in her new vocation. Today, she works twenty-six hectares with her son, Maxime François. They employ organic and biodynamic practices, with a non-interventionist stance in the cellars, bottling old-vine fruit with little sulfur, without fining or filtration, highlighting the purity of their small, rare production.
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.
For the wines that I buy I insist that the winemaker leave them whole, intact. I go into the cellars now and select specific barrels or cuvées, and I request that they be bottled without stripping them with filters or other devices. This means that many of our wines will arrive with a smudge of sediment and will throw a more important deposit as time goes by, It also means the wine will taste better.
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