One of the things I love about this bottling is that while we get to choose our blend every year after tasting samples from roughly twenty different tanks, we still allow the conditions of the vintage to guide us, giving us a fresh, honest, and pure entry point to the Rhône’s great reds. This 2019 reflects a relatively warm year in the southern Rhône Valley, rendering this cuvée a little more solaire than its 2018 counterpart. Still, it bears all of the trademark qualities that we look for in a weeknight rouge from this slice of France: the dark fruit, wild herbs, stony spirit, and, most important, deliciousness that you want to savor again and again.
Over forty years of doing business in France and Italy have given Kermit Lynch a level of expertise that few in the wine industry can boast. Countless hours with growers in some of the most famous vineyards and cellars of Europe have offered more than just a casual look at what it takes to be a great grower, let alone a great winemaker. Long-term relationships with vignerons in every major wine growing region offer a tremendous array of opportunities. Every year, Kermit enjoys a creative collaboration with some growers to find the best of their selections. Together, they work towards creating a final blend that showcases the region in all its glory at a price point that is difficult to match.
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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