kerry09gl1.jpgThe past year brought many highs and some pretty bad lows, but now it is 2009 and we can look to the future. There is no getting away from the fact that the wine industry has suffered a massive down turn and that it may have changed forever as a result of the crash of 2008, but we must look forward and make hard choices if we want to continue. I have suffered, we all have suffered and it looks set to be a grim year ahead, though I think and hope things will stabilize and see some growth by summer. On the brightside of things, of which I am always looking for, seems that there is some great wine coming available and that there are some real values out there for us wine lovers. On reflection, I had some fun times and great wines in 2008, with a couple of wines that will always stick out, The 2001 Harlan Estate, The 2006 Beaux Frères Upper Terrace Pinot Noir, The 2005 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, and both the Roar and Pisoni Estate 2006 “Pisoni Vineyard” Pinots, all mind-blowing wines that stunned me with their level of greatness. Then there were my pet favorites and wines I could drink often, like the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah of Richard Alfaro, of Alfaro Family Vineyards, who’s wines and estate just get better and better each vintage. Looking back, I do have some fond memories from the past year, but I must be honest and say I am happy 2008 is gone.
So, looking forward, I think people are going to be able to enjoy many great wines at great prices, all ready I’ve been tasting some fantastic wines that are both of quality and super values. I recently sat in at a tasting of French wines imported by the famous, and folk lore hero, Kermit Lynch of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in Berkeley, California, and I was left with a big smile on my face at the level of quality and true sense of terroir his wines showed, and these for the most part were value priced wines. Kermit Lynch only brings in family estates where he becomes friends with and who make “real” wines, meaning it is a sense of pride in place and love of the land that is their reason in being, Kermit is turned off by huge gleaming stainless steel tanks and thousands of small barrels, he is more concerned with the people and soil and that they make small lots of wine that carries that essence into the bottle. These wines are made traditionally, but with clean winemaking, so they are not overly funky or off putting in anyway, in fact they taste in most cases more pure and natural with clean flavors and balance. A few years back Kermit wrote his story, a book called “Adventures on the Wine Route, A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France” (The Noonday Press, 1988) a tale of his travels and stories of winemakers there, and one of my favorite wine books. Long with his great selections of wine of course, you should pick up a copy of his book, and read my latest reviews of some his wines.

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