Kermit Lynch was raised in San Luis Obispo, but his name has become synonymous with French and Italian wines. In 1972, with a $5,000 loan and maybe a bit of gumption, this writer/musician opened Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant with thirty-five cases of wine stacked on the floor. Attracted by the Old World wine cultures of Europe, Kermit became a retailer, distributor, and national importer for authentic wines that express their terroir. Much like his close friends, the late food writer Richard Olney and Chez Panisse’s founder Alice Waters, Kermit’s influence has been enduring. He has had so much success shining the spotlight on small, artisan producers that he has won two James Beard awards and was knighted by the French government with their prestigious “Legion d’Honneur.”
Kermit’s creative nature continues to extend beyond the two doors of his Berkeley storefront. In 1998, he purchased the historic Domaine Les Pallières in Gigondas in partnership with his friends, the Brunier brothers of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe. In addition to having three books published, Adventures on the Wine Route (1988, Veuve Cliquot Wine Book of the Year), Inspiring Thirst (2004), and the 25th Anniversary Edition: Adventures on the Wine Route (2013), his passion for roots music has driven him to record five CDs so far. Kermit and his wife, photographer Gail Skoff, divide their time between Berkeley, California and Provence, France—where Kermit says he is “near enough to Domaine Tempier that I can fill up the trunk of my car whenever I need to.”
Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Vacqueyras Cuvée de Lopy (2015)
- Grapes: Grenache and Syrah
- Geography: Rhône Valley, France
- Appellation: Vacqueyras
One glimpse of Serge Férigoule’s barbell moustache might be enough for one to be completely enamored with the wines of Le Sang des Cailloux, although they also speak remarkably well for themselves. This domaine’s name means “the blood of the stones,” and Serge Férigoule is most certainly the heart that links the two together. In 1974, Serge left winemaking school with a longing to return to the vineyards. He went to work for Monsieur Ricard’s family in 1979 to oversee the vineyards. Without anyone in his family to succeed him, Ricard decided to gamble by partnering with Serge in 1982. In 1990, after Monsieur Ricard’s retirement, Serge launched Le Sang des Cailloux. Vacqueyras had just been awarded an A.O.C. that same year, a timely twist of fate that helped Serge’s wines to become as celebrated as they deserve.
All of Serge’s seventeen hectares rest on the great Plateau des Garrigues, where red clay, limestone, and the famous galets roulés, or rounded stones, impart a terrific intensity and depth to the wines. Given the aridity of the soil, the vines here are naturally prone to lower yields—this gives the wines their concentration and power. That Serge has been farming organically for years but has never sought certification says something about his philosophy. He is not looking to impress; only to make the best wines he possibly can. Serge is also sentimental—each year, the Cuvée Traditionnelle of Le Sang des Cailloux is named for one of his daughters, Floureto, Doucinello and Azalaïs. The “Vieilles Vignes” is also called “Lopy,” named for his hometown. His wines have everything we love about the Rhône – wild and chewy with great notes of leather, spicy garrigue, and smoky, black fruit.
Duorum, Douro Colheita Red (2014)
- Grapes: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz
- Geography: Douro, Portugal
- Appellation: Douro
40% Touriga Nacional, 40% Touriga Franca, and 20% Tinta Roriz
A blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz, this wine comes from two different parcels of land in two different Douro sub-regions at two different altitudes. The grapes are carefully selected and fermented in stainless steel tanks before aging in oak barrels for approximately twelve months.
A richly aromatic wine of black cherries, tar, mocha, and a hint of violets. On the palate, this wine’s rich texture is balanced perfectly against a zesty acidity, and rounded out by well-integrated, fine-grained tannins. This wine begs for another sip as its mellifluous flavors develop well into the finish.
Domaine Maestracci, Vin de Corse-Calvi Clos Reginu (2017)
- Grapes: Syrah and Grenache
- Geography: Corsica, France
- Appellation: Vin de Corse-Calvi
Éric Chevalier, Muscadet-Côtes de Grandlieu La Noe (2016)
- Grape: Melon de Bourgogne
- Geography: Loire Valley, France
- Appellation: Muscadet-Côtes de Grandlieu
Éric Chevalier is a rising star in the Nantais of the Loire Valley. For ten years, he sourced fruit for a large négociant in the Touraine. In 2005, he decided to return to his hometown of Saint-Philbert de Grandlieu, just southwest of Nantes, and ended up taking over the family domaine, Domaine de l’Aujardière, the next year. His father, a talented vigneron who did not bottle much of his wines and was well-known as a high-quality source of bulk wine, had stopped working the vineyards and the vines were either going to have to be pulled up and replanted, or sold. Éric was anything but enthusiastic. Little by little his passion grew, and today he is proud to be the fourth generation to farm the domaine. He is also proud to be bottling more and more of the family’s production himself. Éric sustainably farms twenty-five hectares of vines, producing wines of great character and finesse. He found his future in his family’s past.
The Nantais is a maritime climate, and the vineyards are not far from the Atlantic Ocean. Consequently, there is an interesting variety of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks, as this area once was ocean floor. Of the twenty-five hectares he farms, a large percentage of his production is dedicated to the production of Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet Côtes de Grand Lieu, mostly from old vines in the superb lieu-dit of La Butte). The soils here are comprised primarily of serpentinite and quartz, with the exception of his ancient granite parcel known as La Noë. The other half of his crop (Chardonnay, Fié Gris, and Pinot Noir, among others) goes towards the production of Vin de Pays du Val du Loire, and the soils are rich in granite, sand, and silt. Of these “country” wines, the most notable is Éric’s Fié Gris. This grape, pulled out of vineyards for many years to be replaced with the more profitable Sauvignon Blanc, is indigenous to the Loire. Also known as Sauvignon Rose or Sauvignon Gris, Éric’s vines are one of the few remaining strongholds of this elegant and luscious varietal. It makes an impression, with almost an Alsatian exoticism.
The earliest distilleries in Brooklyn date back to the 1700’s. During Prohibition there were over 50,000 illicit stills in New York City. Since Prohibition however, the ethereal perfumes of distillation have been largely absent…until now.
The New York Distilling Company builds on this dream by establishing one of the nation’s premiere craft distilleries.
We also have NEW 200ml FLASKS of Ragtime Rye Straight Whiskey – The Highest Rated American Craft Rye Whiskey by the New York Times. A perfect grab-and-go item for the holidays
ROCK & RYE
Mister Katz grew up on the B&O railroad, spitting distance from the old Hannisville Distillery. In the days, before Prohibition there was all manner of entertainment to keep a young man’s fancy: the ponies, chewing tobacco, malts at the drugstore, and an evening’s treat of Rock & Rye.
An American classic, authentic Rock & Rye could once be found on the back bar of most noteworthy establishments. Over a century later we proudly present Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye. In service to the past and present, it marries our youthful rye whiskey and rock candy sugar with sour cherries, cinnamon, and a wisp of citrus. Enjoy it on its on or in a cocktail.
AMERICAN STRAIGHT WHISKEY
At the dawn of a new century, before the turbulence of Prohibition, the stalwarts of saloons and brothels alike were Ragtime and Rye. The syncopated rhythms of a uniquely American music were punctuated by well-built melody and shades of harmony; to ask for a whiskey cocktail meant a hearty Rye in hand – bold, slightly spicy and full of warm flavor. From Lincoln to the Dust Bowl, the wrath of battle to the backyard barbecue, Rye Whiskey has waxed and waned like amber waves of grain, its popularity, only recently, reclaimed as a resolute American spirit.
Distilled from rye proudly grown in New York State, this uncompromising whiskey is aged exclusively in full-size barrels to ensure robust flavor and nuanced finish. If the destiny of nations depends on cultural nourishment then ours may rest, in fulfillment, with Ragtime and Rye.