Article and
Tasting Notes by
George Heritier



Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant logoThe Kermit Lynch Road Show blew into Day-twah in the waning days of March to complete a whirlwind 3-city tour of the east coast and Midwest. Kermit himself was not among the company, but the 10 French and Italian winemakers and estate representatives were in the very capable hands of KLWM Regional Sales Director W. Matthew Cain. After stops in Baltimore and New York, their first night in town was spent at a ticketed event at a private residence in Ann Arbor under the auspices of our friends at Morgan and York. The next morning, they set up shop at the complex of KLWM’s local vendor, Veritas Distributors, for a trade tasting that we were most eager and happy to attend. After all, we’ve been fans of this portfolio for many years now, so these are always must-do events.

We arrived a little early to take pictures of labels before the influx of tasters would make that difficult, if not impossible. After 10 or 15 minutes, the crew arrived and things got under way. Here are my brief “snapshot” notes of what we tasted. Prices given are average retail markups on post off (sale) and front line wholesale listings. Please note also that several of these wines have yet to be bottled and released at the time of this writing.

Cinzia SommarivaOur first stop was with Cinzia Sommariva (left), whose family winery is located in the Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene appellation of northeastern Italy. Cinzia touched on several aspects of her wines and winery while we tasted, including location, soil composition and its influence on the wines and the fact that they are made from 100% Prosecco grapes, which is not always the case with wines labeled as such.

Sommariva Prosecco Di Conegliano NV, $17.99-19.99: Fresh and lively, this is the driest of Sommariva’s Proseccos, easy to drink and enjoyable. The perfect aperitif, and good with white meats and seafood, showing hints of acacia flower and wisteria. Made with the Charmat method. Find this wine

Reynald Delille of Domaine de TerrebruneWe’re always game to try any wine from Bandol, so we moseyed on over to visit with Reynald Delille (right) of Domaine de Terrebrune. Reynald is very affable and only too happy to demonstrate with a folder of pictures how the limestone soil forces the vines’ roots to go deep into the ground to seek nourishment and that it influences the character of the wines, which of course, one can taste. The wines are “natural,” being produced entirely through organic practices. This was our first taste of Domaine de Terrebrune wines, but it certainly won’t be our last, as we were very impressed with their quality.

2007 Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol Blanc, $26.99-31.99: Made from Clairette, Ugni and Bourboulenc; rich yet restrained, with mineral dominated yellow apple flavors and aromas. Find this wine

2008 Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol Rosé (Tank sample), $25.49-30.99: Made from Mourvedre (minimum 20%), Grenache and Cinsault; terrific dry rosé here, with a mineral infused under-ripe strawberry personality. Find this wine

Domaine de Terrebrune BandolReynald says that the reds spend 18 months in large oak barrels (50-60 hl), which, because of their size, impart little, if any wood influence; the vines that produce the grapes are between 20-40 years of age. He also claims that while many Bandol rouge take on a Bordeaux-like character with age, his tend to resemble Burgundy. We’d love to get the opportunity to find out for ourselves someday.

2005 Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol Rouge, $29.99-35.49: Made from Mourvedre (minimum 50%), Grenache and Cinsault; A little funk over earthy black fruit and licorice. Lovely. Find this wine

2006 Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol Rouge, $29.99-35.49: Made from Mourvedre (minimum 50%), Grenache and Cinsault; deep, intense funky Mourvedre nose, with lots of mineral to balance the rich, elegant fruit. Very nice. Find this wine

After thanking Reynald for his time, we sidled over to the next table, where Laurent Martelet was pouring wines from his Domaine Comtesse Bernard de Cherisey. Martelet is friendly, if a little more reserved than Delille; his wines are full of finesse and quite delicious. 2004 was Comtesse Bernard de Cherisey’s first vintage with Kermit Lynch.

3 from Comtesse Bernard de Cherisey2007 Comtesse Bernard de Cherisey Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Chalemeaux (Barrel Sample), $76.99-92.49: Toasty oak over lovely apple flavors and aromas, with lively acidity. So much promise here. 50% new oak, 50% 1 and 2 year old oak. The 2007s will be bottled in May. Find this wine

2007 Comtesse Bernard de Cherisey Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Hameau de Blagon (Barrel Sample), $76.99-92.49: Toasty, smoky character, with nice intensity; Kim admired its creamy quality. Find this wine

Laurent Martelet feels that the terroir of the Blagny vineyard that produced the following two wines is a special one, because it’s 60-80 meters higher in altitude than the villages of Meursault and Puligny. Hang time is longer, the slope of the hill eliminates rainwater more quickly and the soils themselves are poor, causing the vines to “not adopt a behavior of growth and development but rather an attitude of survival.” The plants generate all their energy to the ripening of seeds, and in turn, the grapes have to taste good for the birds or mammals to eat and spread them. Happily, this also makes for wonderful wines!

2007 Comtesse Bernard de Cherisey Meursault-Blagny Premier Cru “La Genelotte” (Barrel Sample), $76.99-92.49: Creamy, with very racy acidity that should carry it many years down the road. Find this wine

2006 Comtesse Bernard de Cherisey Meursault-Blagny Premier Cru “La Genelotte”, $76.99-92.49: A toned down version of the ’07, with subtle toasty dry apple and pear. Find this wine

2 from Daniel Chotard SancerreWe moved right along to the next table, where we found Daniel Chotard and his delicious spectrum of Sancerres that included not only Sauvignon, but also a Rouge and rosé, both made from Pinot Noir. Daniel’s family has been making wine for more than two centuries in Sancerre’s clay-limestone slopes. I didn’t find out until after the tasting that Daniel also plays accordion and guitar, and founded the “Jazz aux Caves” festival held annually in Sancerre.

2007 Daniel Chotard Sancerre, $24.49-$27.99: Exudes a pungent mineral nose; you can taste the limestone in the rich, dry flavors. Saw extended time on the lees, as did the following selection. Find this wine

2008 Daniel Chotard Sancerre (Tank Sample), $24.49-$27.99: Flowers and river stones on the nose, with zippy, stony character in the mouth. Find this wine

2008 Daniel Chotard Sancerre Rosé, $24.49-$27.99: Pale in color, and very fresh, with stony minerality and rich, under-ripe strawberry flavors. Delightful dry rosé. Find this wine

Unfortunately, while we meant to get back to try Chotard’s Sancerre Rouge, somehow we never did.

2 from Château La Roque It had been a while since we’d tried anything from the Pic Saint Loup stalwart Château La Roque, so I was interested in tasting what their wines have to offer these days. They were being poured by Estate Manager Cyriaque Rozier, who told us that the reds have achieved their intensity of flavor due to longer hang time, allowing for riper wines than are usually found in the Languedoc. I’ve heard and read some rumblings of discontent with them in that regard, but the three we tasted on this occasion were very fine indeed. We started off with a white and a rosé.

2007 Château La Roque Coteaux du Languedoc Cuvée Tradition Blanc, 30% Rolle, 30% Marsanne, 15% Roussanne, 25% Grenache Blanc, $16.49-19.99: Nice rich character, with attractive mineral and melon flavors and aromas; grapes were picked early to maintain acidity. Find this wine

2008 Château La Roque Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup Cuvée Tradition Rosé, 45% Mourvèdre, 55% Syrah, $15.49-18.99: Pungent nose; wine has a odd character that reminds me a little of plastic or carpet glue, but drinks fairly well despite that. Needs a little time in the bottle to sort itself out. Find this wine

2006 Château La Roque Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup Cuvée Tradition Rouge, 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre, $16.49-19.99: Rich and intense, with red and black fruit underscored with subtle earth and underbrush. Very nice. Find this wine

2006 Château La Roque Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup Cuvée Mourvèdre, 90% Mourvèdre Vieilles Vignes, 10% Grenache, $18.99-21.49: The aromatics scream Mourvèdre; big earthy black fruit with some subtle matchstick. Find this wine

2006 Château La Roque Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup Cupa Numismae, 60% Syrah, 40% Mourvèdre , $21.49-26.49: Effusive perfumed nose of floral black fruit follows through beautifully in the flavors; has a stylish beauty reminiscent of Ridge Zinfandels from the early ‘90s. 24 months in oak, 25% new. Find this wine

There were also three wines from a property adjacent to Château La Roque that, according the gentleman pouring them, were made by Cyriaque Rozier. The two Vin de Pays cannot be labeled as Pic Saint Loup because they are 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

2006 Château Fontanès Vin de Pays d’Oc, $12.99-14.99: Animal, black fruit, earth and licorice; good structure and great QPR. Find this wine

2007 Château Fontanès Vin de Pays d’Oc, $12.99-14.99: Deep, fresh and lively, with spicy black fruit infused with underbrush. Find this wine

2007 Château Fontanès Coteaux du Languedoc, $16.99-19.99: Lovely nose, all floral and garrigue; rich, intense black fruit. Find this wine

Château Tour Bayard Montagne-Saint-EmilionThere were a trio of Bordeaux producers present, so we moved on to that table next and were very impressed by what we found. We started with a single selection from Château Tour Bayard being poured by Bruno Richard.

2006 Château Tour Bayard Montagne-Saint-Emilion, 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, $18.99-21.49: Shows lots of promise, with dense, earthy black currant character and drying tannins on the finish. Chemical fertilizers are eschewed in favor of natural compost to produce the wines of Tour Bayard. Find this wine

Andre Chatenoud was pouring three wines of his Château de Bellevue Lussac Saint-Emilion. The operation is certified organic, and Chatenoud strives to produce the most natural wines possible, wines that reflect the limestone terroir from which they are sourced.

2007 Château de Bellevue Griottes Lussac Saint-Emilion, $18.99-21.49: 100% Merlot saw no wood and made for early drinking; smooth and easy to enjoy. Find this wine

2005 Château de Bellevue Lussac Saint-Emilion, $26.49-31.99: Soft wood and black currant; approachable and very nice. Find this wine

2006 Château de Bellevue Lussac Saint-Emilion, $22.49-$27.49: Pretty underbrush and black currant character. Find this wine

Sylvain GarosteChâteau Belles-Graves Lalande de PomerolSylvain Garoste (right) is cellar-master at Château Belles-Graves Lalande de Pomerol; he is also good natured and quick to smile. The two most recent vintages he was presenting are very nice indeed.

2005 Château Belles-Graves Lalande de Pomerol, $30.99-37.49: Soft wood and floral hints over earthy black currant; well structured for several years in the cellar. Find this wine

2006 Château Belles-Graves Lalande de Pomerol, $29.99-35.49: A younger, more intense, racy version of the 2005; very nice. Find this wine

Guido PorroGuido Porro was on hand to present four of his Barolos from Serralunga d'Alba, Italy. Unfortunately, Guido speaks no English whatsoever, so the wines did the talking and were very expressive indeed.

2004 Guido Porro Barolo Lazzairasco, $44.99-52.49: Like flowers and anise on the nose; deep, dark and delicious. Find this wine

2005 Guido Porro Barolo Lazzairasco, $44.99-52.49: Lovely Barolo character; smooth, with floral hints. More than approachable, yet with great promise for many years of development. Find this wine

2005 Guido Porro Barolo Santa Caterina, $41.49-49.49: Less floral than the ’05 Lazzairasco, but no less impressive; big, rich earthy flavors. Find this wine

2003 Guido Porro Barolo Lazzairasco, $44.99-52.49: Floral and earthy at the same time; a lovely wine with a long life ahead of it. Delicioso! Find this wine

Finally, there was a table of various other wines that Kernit Lynch imports, with W. Matthew Cain pouring. We tried five of those, starting with two whites.

2007 Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre, $26.49-29.99: Stony mineral; nice, but not as intense as the Chotards. Find this wine

2007 Roland Lavantureux Chablis, $24.49-28.99: Flinty, stony and smooth, with medium intensity. Find this wine

2007 Nicole Chanrion Côte-de-Brouilly, $21.49-24.49: Floral strawberry and cherry perfume; a little young and tight right now, but plenty of promise. Should be a charmer. Find this wine

2 of our favorite red Rhones2006 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras, $36.49-41.99: Classic Sang des Cailloux character, earthy and a little funky, with plenty of years ahead of it. Find this wine

2006 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Chateauneuf du Pape La Crau, $74.99-82.49: Earthy young Vieux Télégraphe; rich, dense and full of promise. Find this wine

What a range of exceptional wines we tasted! We always anticipate high quality from the KLWM book, and we were certainly not disappointed. Many thanks to the fine folks at Veritas, W. Matthew Cain and, of course, the winemakers and managers from the marvelous estates and domains who traveled so far to present their fine, fine wines.



Reporting from Day-twah,

geo t.

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© George Heritier April, 2009