Old-World Character

I bought a bottle of wine the other day that made me think about the ongoing arguments around the character of wine, terroir, and the like. The bottle was a 2006 Vin de Pays du Vaucluse from Kermit Lynch, and I bought it at a good grocery store here in San Francisco. The bottle cost $9, and I opened it to eat with a braised chicken recipe from Richard Olney’s Provence: The Beautiful Cookbook. (A book that was, incidentally, recommended to me by a reader of this blog; I bought it used online, and I find it terrific.)

The wine had a powerful barnyard odor, along with black pepper, and an outright rustic flavor, with more barnyard and saddle leather and raspberry, maybe some spice that leaned toward Old Spice. And I loved it. In fact, I’m crazy about this wine. And here’s my point: It’s impossible to imagine this wine coming from a new-world winemaker. It’s just too weird, too rural, too full of … character. At this price point, if I’m not mistaken, a lot of new-world winemakers would be trying to please the widest range of palates, and they would rightfully assume that a wine this unusual risked alienating a lot of drinkers. It’s a distinctiveness, in other words, that not everyone is going to love. But for me, it’s also a distinctiveness that makes globalism sound just fine—as long as it serves to bring this terrific value to my neighborhood grocery store, while leaving alone the culture that created it.

2006 Cuvée Sélectionnée Par Kermit Lynch Vin de Pays du Vaucluse Red Wine
Grapes: 70 percent Grenache, 20 percent Syrah, 10 percent Marsellan
Wood: None, this wine is made in stainless steel
Alcohol: 13 percent
Other Cool Info: The vines are apparently around 13 years old (not sure what that’s supposed to tell me, but one day I’ll know). The grapes are hand-harvested (I always like the sound of “hand-harvested”). The wine is bottled unfiltered (and it would have to be, tasting like this).
Price: About $10 at online retailers

See more articles
Share this article: