A Few Good Men 5/13/10- Pictured above, these four men all import wine from Europe. They all started with a passion for wine created in the most traditional, purist methods and over the years they've sought out winemakers in Europe (mostly France) who share that same passion.
These men bring wine into the United States produced by winemakers that aren't driven by profit, but rather the desire to create an expression of their grape varieties, climate and soil with minimal use of chemicals and machinery. They refer to the finished product as "natural wine" or "real wine". More often then not, I find their wines have more character and personality, then wine that is mass produced in laboratories.
The wine imported by these men might not be among the biggest or juiciest of wines. It's doubtful their imports will be blind tasting winners and score big with the critics. But there is something more to them that I want to convey to you....something very intriguing.
These men import wine that I want to explore. It's more then a "been there, done that" thing after the bottle is gone. Each one of their wines comes with a story. The wine may have been bottled by hand, unfiltered, or fermented in 200 year old barrels, with no sulphur added. Those kinds of ancient techniques can give extra depth and character and lots of little surprises in the wine that you don't find in many mass produced wines.
With these sort of wines, you can think about the soil types because you might even be able to TASTE elements of the soil in the wine. Even better, the flavors in naturally made wine can give clues to what other kinds of plants were grown near the grape vines.
Focus on Kermit - The #2 picture above is of Kermit Lynch. One of Kermit's original producers from his early days of importing, the late Rene Loyau talks about smelling wild currants in wine from a passage of Kermit's book ...
"All the old vintages exhibited a strong smell of wild currants," Loyau begins, wide eyed with the wonder of it all. "However, in more recent years the same aroma was not to be found in the wine. Mystery!!" He draws out the word mystery and let's it hang in the air. His eyes narrow with cunning as he leans toward my secretary and taps her four times. For emphasis, I presume, the old fox. "I inquired of the grower and asked when he tad torn out the patch of currants near the vineyard. Of course I had NEVER SEEN his vineyard. It was pure deduction. And wouldn't you know it? There had been wild currants growing to the stone wall that separated his land from his neighbors until......his neighbor cleared the patch of currants in order to plant vines!!"
Kermit has been importing wine since the mid 70's. Many of our customers already are very familiar with Kermit's wines. Gary Vandeychuck (the loud, funny wine guy who does video wine reviews) recently did an interview with Kermit. You can click the picture on watch it here: Kermit visits Gary
(click picture to see video)
2005 Domaine de Poujol - Proteus
True to Kermit's profile, Poujol uses minimal chemical treatments, minimal sulphur does not filter and uses wild yeasts when possible. The Wine Advocate mentions drinking this wine when it's young, but after having it last week I think it's hitting it's peak right now. If you like, earthy, rustic style wine I encourage you to try this one.
This wine did get 87 Points from the Wine Advocate - "The 2005 Proteus is a blend of Merlot with classic Rhone varieties. Abundant red raspberry and tart cherry fruit are mingled with cocoa powder and dried herbs in a juicy, simply engaging, and impressively persistent wine." I think that's a pretty good review of this wine.
Regular $15.99, on sale at $10.99 (due in this Friday 5/14 and will be at the registers)
2008 Domaine Fontsainte Gris de Gris (Rose)
Regular $13.99 on sale at $11.19
(due in Friday5/14 and will be at the
Kermit's own words about this wine: The Fonsainte Gris di Gris is a crisp, dry beauty that leaves you smacking your lips - the wine drinker's applause.
My own words about this wine: It's a great summah sippah a.k.a a porch pounder!
Steve Tanzer likes it too and gave it 88 Points - 60% grenache gris and grenache, 15% carignane, 10% each of mourvedre and cinsault and 5% syrah) Light, bright pink. Honeysuckle, green tea, cranberry and strawberry on the nose. Juicy, finely etched red berry and citrus flavors are gently sweet and given spine by nervy minerality. Richer on the finish, which repeats the strawberry and floral notes and leaves dusty minerals behind. Serve this with a good chill, to emphasize the wine's freshness.
The Laboucarié père and fils of Domaine Fontsainte--Bruno Laboucarié and his father, Yves. The elder Laboucarié says that a visit from his U.S. importer, Kermit Lynch, is worse than a visit from Inspector Clouseau; "He tastes everything twice, and pokes around everywhere." I'm sure that this news comes as no surprise to any of Lynch's customers. They have depended on his excellent palate and diligence for over 30 years.
A final quote from Kermit: "Wine is, above all, pleaure. Those who would make it ponderous make it dull. People talk about the mystery of wine, yet most don't want anything to do with mystery. They want it all there in one sniff, one taste. If you keep an open mind and take each wine on it's own terms, there is a world of magic to discover. "
The most critically reviewed Bordeaux of the last decade are from 2000, 2005 and now the upcoming 2009. How about the other years? There is so much media attention on those good years that often the years in between are overlooked.
The 2006 Malmaison was #84 in Wine Spectator's top 100 wines of 2009 with a score of 90 Points. Not too long ago I bought some of this wine and I was wondering whether or not it was ready to drink. I took one home and found that while delicious, the wine needs to be laid down for at least few years. While I can see why the Spectator thinks so highly of it, like many young and rising wines it's too tannic and harsh but it's a fine candidate to put in your basement. And at this price, you don't usually find age-worthy wines.
"Blackberry and raspberry jam aromas follow through to a full body, with very soft tannins and pretty berry and currant character. This is seamless and well done for the vintage. Best after 2012" - James Suckling --- 90 Points Wine Spectator
He's not kidding about best after 2012! It's a set-it-and-forget-it kind of wine! In 2012 and beyond you'll have a beautiful tasting treat.
Regular Price $21.99
$17.59 net (in stock now)