November 22, 2006

Kermit Lynch Tasting

I went to a terrific event at Liner & Elsen wine shop last week, a tasting of three French producers imported by Kermit Lynch in Berkeley, CA.

There are many importers of French wine, many good ones. Yet Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant is, to me, the best. I grew up in wine through KLWM selections, and even with occasional doubts through the years, they keep coming through.

Case in point, the wines of Reuilly, Robert-Denogent, and Tempier.

From the Loire, Denis Jamain of Domaine de Reuilly poured wines and showed a nice rock from his vineyard filled with fossilized sea shells, His 2005 Reuilly Sauvignon is crisp, clean middle Loire sauvignon. The 2005 Pinot Gris Rosé is light and delicate, more inoffensive than graceful, with a beautiful light copper color. Then the 2005 Reuilly Pinot Noir, fresh and lively ruby red wine, simple and in the words of Jamain, easy to drink. I’d say that and delightful.

Next came Jean Jacques Robert of Domaine Robert-Denogent in the Maconais. These wines really impressed, with all of them more than satisfactory and a couple that were truly outstanding. At $20-$35, these are great value in high quality white Burgundy.

The 2004 Macon-Fuissé “Les Taches” is nice clean chardonnay with great balance, simple but still very nice. The 2004 Pouilly-Fuissé “Les Croix” is similar in frame but with more mineral intensity.

Then, at another level, the 2004 Pouilly-Fuissé “Les Reisses” that’s simply gorgeous. Rich but precise aroma, full and long flavor, this is pick of a nice line up. The 2004 Pouilly-Fuissé “Cuvée Claude Denogent” that’s named for Jean Jacques Robert’s grandfather is a bit wild and less clear than the Reisses, but no less delicious. These wines show some oak influence, but also have such nice fruit and minerality to balance things.

And finally the 2000 Pouilly-Fuissé “Les Carrons” for contrast. It was a bit mature at first, but opened quickly with mint and fennel aromas, a bit lean on the palate though I think this just needed more time to unfold in the glass.

I’ve been on a white Burgundy kick lately, and wines like these only make me more interested. If you think white Burgs are too expensive, too rich, too boring, too oaky, too whatever, give these a try. They aren't cheap by most standards, but they're worth the extra money. And if you're loaded, drink this stuff anyway.

Then to Provence. Daniel Ravier of Domaine Tempier was on hand to pour the 2004s and other things, and chat candidly about his technique and the domaine in general.

First, the 2005 Bandol Rosé is a mineral and structured rosé, good but a bit lost for me tonight if you can believe it. Daniel said it’s 50% grapes macerated one night, which gave more color than they hoped, so another 35% of the grapes were pressed right away without maceration. The cuvee also includes about 15% saignee from the reds. Daniel says that he wants to be careful not to bleed too much from the red wine so as to not imbalance it. This wine is fermented with added yeast, unlike the reds.

Then reds. The 2004 Bandol “Classique” is dark colored, full bodied and fruity but still cleanly earthy too, fairly forward and drinkable though I’m sure it would last some time. This is more modern than I remember Tempier, but still it’s authentic wine, not candied.

The 2004 Bandol “La Migoua” – pronounced Mee-gua for those of us who wonder about about things – is a step up. 50% mourvedre with syrah, carignan, and others in the mix, it has a sappy richness that’s a bit tight right now, but this is good if hefty wine.

The 2004 Bandol “La Tourtine” smells just like I remember Tourtine, which isn’t something I usually say about a wine. But this just smells like other bottles from this vineyard, good bottles I should add, have smelled. Yet it’s very ripe for Tempier and more forward than the Migoua while still clearly structured and a bit furry as mourvedre can be. It’s nice but again big wine. Daniel suggests it’s in the 15% range, which might come as a surprise to some people.

Finally, the 2000 Bandol “La Tourtine” that’s still young, as you would expect. Daniel jokes that they might have missed a racking on this one, his first year at Tempier. Stinky, reduced right out of the nearly fresh bottle, but with some minutes it clears up some. If you have this wine, decant it, which is probably a good idea with most Bandol. This is good Bandol, a minerally cherry wine that really wants food to smell and taste its best.

In sum, a terrific event that was like a little slice of Lynch’s classic book Adventures on the Wine Route. Both leave you thirsty for more.

No comments: