September Newsletter: New Arrivals, Alsace Sampler, Provence in Berkeley, Brunello’s Finest—Pre-Arrival

The September Newsletter is now available.
Download the PDF here.


Highlights from this month’s newsletter…


After a rainy winter (and two rare snowstorms), this has been a summer of persistent mistral—the legendary wind of Provence. Wind doesn’t begin to describe it. The mistral roars down the Rhône Valley and seems to take a left turn as it approaches Marseille. From the west, then, it attacks my place near Bandol. It is known to drive people stark raving mad.

Yesterday I was, er, up to here with a big one. Company due, chops to grill—impossible. I phoned Alain Pascal at Gros ’Noré.

“Hey, Alain. This mistral . . .” I actually growled—grrrrr!

“Don’t gripe. The mistral is our doctor,” he said.

It took me a moment, then I recalled Lucien Peyraud saying, on one of my earliest visits to Tempier, “The mistral is God’s gift to the vignerons here—when the nights are humid or it rains, the mistral blows the grapes dry so we don’t have to worry about rot.”

Don’t let me scare you away from Provence Day—we will not re-create a mistral, however poetic or beneficial some consider it.

But we will fire up the grill, peel some garlic, and uncork a bevy of delicious Provençal wines. We’ll block off our parking lot, set up tables and tents, and have a natural blast! Oh yeah, almost forgot the live music. What more do you want, fer chrissake?

The event is presented by Café Fanny and our chef is, ta-da, Christopher Lee, with his pal Samin Nosrat. The price will be more than fair, as usual—we wouldn’t want to bug anybody—and the spirit of Provence and good times will prevail. Amen.

Note the date:


11 A.M. TO 4 P.M.

Event presented by Café Fanny

Santon de Provence posed in front of Paul Signac’s Port de Marseille


by Lori Varsames

A recent trip to Languedoc-Roussillon has left me in awe. These terroir-loving, pragmatic, and independent bons-vivants play the wine game differently than in most regions throughout France. As the appellation system continues to evolve and the methodology increasingly returns to ancestral practices, these rebels are not afraid to walk their talk. We have the finest selection in the U.S., and here are a few new arrivals.


by Dixon Brooke

We keep talking to our national distribution partners around the country about the incredible response you’ve given to Thierry Boucard’s Cabernet Francs here in the shop. Great reds; great prices. What’s wrong with that? The prices are as good as a Christmas gift, given the wines’ quality, consistency, and proven track record for long-term aging. Both Kermit and I continue to be puzzled as to why these cuvées are ignored by the rest of the wine world. Take advantage of the situation.

Thierry’s young-vine “Alouettes” cuvée is very popular every year, and delicious, while the two cuvées below, from much older vines and better terroirs, command almost no price premium! I’ve been adding to my stash yearly, and reaping the rewards. Beauvais is from tuffeau or chalk soils and always has a bit more structure than the VV, needing a bit more time to round out. Both of these pure Cabernet Francs can be drunk now or aged for up to . . . well, the 1976 is still outstanding! I’m with Kermit, who believes that the great Loire reds of today are aging better than the new style that has taken over Bordeaux. An older Boucard has depths to plumb and a whole lotta soul.

2009 BourgueiL “Vieilles Vignes”

$17.95 per bottle $193.86 per case

2009 Bourgueil “Beauvais”

$17.95 per bottle $193.86 per case

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