Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What a Difference a Winemaker Makes!

When we got the phone call from Anthony Anselmi, our Kermit Lynch Representative asking if we would be interested in doing an evening tasting at our shop with 8 Kermit Lynch Rhone producers all I could think to say was, "Well duh". This was an amazing opportunity to have our customers meet the people behind the bottle and there is just nothing like that experience to create life long relationships between the consumer and the estate.
Kermit Lynch has some of the most sought after estates in France's Rhone Valley but for some reason the wines, that sell out days after they are released in stores all over the United States just sit on our shelves. It has always astounded me and I knew that once people met these winemakers everything would click.

These French winemakers are not your, "I made a million on the Stock Market and want to make wine" kind of people. These are farmers complete with calloused hands, sun worn skin, humble demeanor and a knowledge of their little piece of land that flows through their veins just as it did the generations before them.

As each of these soft spoken farmers stepped before the sell out crowd you could feel their trepidation, their cheeks would turn slightly pink and they all took a second to ask us to forgive their was just so inviting and somehow made these, "special wines" all the more real, welcoming, familiar and in some way even more special now that you have met the people that make them for you. Meeting a winemaker is fantastic but meeting 8 was just remarkable and wines that at one time sat on the shelf flew out the door that evening...what a difference 8 winemakers make!

Philippe Faury:
Philippe and his wife Daniele Faury both stood to speak about their Condrieu and St. Joseph, Philippe in his fanny pack and Amish looking beard just smiled while his wife spoke of the estate and fielded questions from the crowd....Philippe was not so much with the English if you know what I'm saying. Their wines have both power and grace and I thought the Condrieu was perfectly balanced.
2005 Condrieu (57.99)
2006 St. Joseph (34.99)

Charbonniere Chateauneuf-du-Pape
The very young but square shouldered Caroline Maret was here on her second visit to the US to promote her family's wines. Her father is has been making the wines but she has been assisting him and has plans to someday take over wine making for the estate. She was very focused and didn't loose her cool when she was challenged about the 2003 Chateauneuf-du-Pape we were pouring which was showing some baked, over ripe fruit, "That is the 2003 vintage" she said, "That is what the vines gives us and that is what is in the bottle". I loved that!
2003 Chateauneuf-du-Pape (27.99)
2006 Vacqueyras (N/A barrel sample)
2006 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Brusquieres (N/A barrel sample)

Auguste Clap
Olivier Clap is the third generation winemaker for this famed estate. No problems with English what so ever but still a touch shy, tall and lanky with a lumberjack looking beard hugging his very young looking face. So sweet and humble it was hard to wrap your head around the fact that he and his family make the most famous Cornas on the market.
2006 St. Peray (37.99)
2005 Cornas (99.99)

Gros Nore Bandol
Alan Pascal spoke not a word or English, was short but thick and looked like a man that could and probably has taken down a bear with his bare, rough hands!
2005 Bandol (34.99)

Tempier Bandol
Daniel Ravier was the tallest and definitely the most comfortable with the English language and helped translate for poor Alan Pascal from Gros Nore. Daniel was charming, funny and sucked the crowd in the second he opened his mouth and started cracking jokes. He had a confidence about him and that came through in his stunning wines...they were remarkable and my favorites of the night.
2005 Tourtine (sold out)
2005 Migoua (sold out)

Le Goeuill
Cathrine Le Goeuil had a slight advantage as her wine was the most affordable and the most accessible of the evening. We had a attendee named Randy Johnson that had been drinking her wine with dinner before the class..he didn't even know she was going to be there so it was quite a treat for him! Cathrine oozed a comforting feeling that reminded me of my 5th grade teacher and her wine was juicy, earthy, full of spice and very easy to drink. The three cases we had sold out that evening!
2005 Cotes du Rhone Cairanne Cuvee Lea Felsch (16.99)

Poor Guillaume Demoulin's wine was not cold enough to poor at the beginning as we had planned, (barrel samples as the wine had not yet arrived in the US) so he kept getting bumped back all night long. We ended up pouring his bright and zippy Tavel Rose at the end of the tasting and it ended up being a rather inspired way to end the night....after a bunch of big ass reds that tangy Rose just hit the spot!
2007 Tavel Rose (17.99)

It really was a eye opening night and I thank all that made time on a Tuesday evening to join us for what was a one of a kind tasting. I hope everyone learned as much as I did and found a new spot both in your home and in your heart for the wines from those wonderful people.

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