Daniel Brunier, the seasoned vigneron at the head of Les Pallières and Vieux Télégraphe, values authenticity like nobody else. It is a virtue that can be tasted across all his cuvées, and knowing Daniel, a prerequisite for any wine bearing his name on its label. It is only logical for a fourth-generation vigneron running a family domaine in a place as special, and as celebrated, as Châteauneuf’s La Crau. So several years ago, when Daniel told us he had made a rosé from the young vines at Les Pallières in Gigondas, we knew he was not messing around. He would never make a pop wine, nor follow the trend of mass-marketed rosés rooted in modern enology rather than terroir. He chose to craft it using similar methods to how he produces his Châteauneuf blanc, pressing the grapes directly after harvest and fermenting with native yeasts in used demi-muids, with malolactic fermentation occurring naturally before an unfiltered bottling. The result has density, texture, and weight on the palate, lifted by a saline freshness. Much like a fine white Burgundy, it should not be served too cold. There is a clear sense of place, along with a clear image of the man behind it, and his values. In Daniel’s words:
When we decided to create a rosé at Pallières, we had never done it before. One thing was certain: we did not want to make something that resembled all the other rosés—too technical, lacking soul and personality. The idea was to simply create a rosé we liked. We had to go against the current without knowing where that would lead us… “Au petit bonheur la chance,” as we say in France [meaning, “We’ll see where luck takes us”]. That’s the name we gave our ‘experiment,’ and for those who don’t understand the significance, it’s a beautiful idea nonetheless!
Domaine Les Pallières is undeniably one of the greatest, longest-running properties of the Southern Rhône, having been within the same family since the 15th century. By 1998, with no successors, the Roux family decided to sell. A discussion over lunch between Daniel Brunier, of Vieux Télégraphe, and Kermit Lynch spontaneously turned into a plan to revive the jewel—Les Pallières. The Roux family decided to sell to the Bruniers and Kermit and the Pallières’ renaissance had begun. A focus on terroir and its potential led to a clear, new direction. Domaine Les Pallières has become a partnership among friends, a real meeting of the minds—a creative collaboration of three leading, passionate experts on the wines of the Rhône.
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.
Let the brett nerds retire into protective bubbles, and whenever they thirst for wine it can be passed in to them through a sterile filter. Those of us on the outside can continue to enjoy complex, natural, living wines.
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