2021 Kermit Lynch, Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, France.
I had a craving for a simple lush Grenache based wine while waiting for a pizza and thought I might be out of luck at an out of the way Safeway grocery market, but there tucked on the shelves with industrial made and uninteresting supermarket wines was this Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône Rouge and it was a no brainer to grab a few bottles, especially as they were Club Card discounted and it proved to be the perfect fix. This dark purple/garnet wine, which I have long known about and even sold in my time in the wine business, is an authentic Rhône offering that is usually made up mostly older head trained and dry farmed Grenache, along with supporting amounts of Syrah, Cinsault, and Carignan, which add complexity and freshness and depth. This 2021 vintage is one of the best I’ve had, to be honest I have mainly talked about other Côtes du Rhônes here and even passed on this one, even though I knew it was a tasty choice, but this one even surprised me with its fabulous dark fruit character, spice, grilled herbs, earth and wild flowers on the satiny palate. The crushed boysenberry, plum, pomegranate and strawberry fruits lead the way on the medium to full bodied palate, with no wood used here, allowing the grapes to shine, along with lavender, lilac, rosemary, pepper, minty anise and a chalky stony element. Made with native yeasts, a 25 day maceration, and all fermented and aged in cement, the 2021 ended up being 48% Grenache, 39% Syrah, 6% Mourvèdre, 5% Carignan, 1% Marselan (a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache) and 1% Cinsault.

The Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône red is now sourced from Demazet Vignobles, a cave co-op in Morières-lès-Avignon, with François Pasturel overseeing the winemaking, located just south of Avignon, in a top area for Grenache, with alluvial soils. Working a handful of growers in the nearby town of Châteauneuf-de-Gadagne, which boasts an excellent terroir of galets roulés, those large round stones, which Kermit says is not unlike the much more famous Châteauneuf (du Pape) which is actually only just a few miles away! Kermit, who loves this region and who has many collaborations with vignerons in the area works closely with winemaker Jean-François Pasturel to develop the blend for this signature value bottling of Côtes du Rhône Rouge each year. Pasturel, himself a purist says he is thrilled to have the chance to produce a Côtes du Rhône he can be proud of, especially one he does not have to filter to death. Kermit can tell there is a true commitment to quality for this one and It is François’ chance to make a tête de cuvée, and you can almost taste his pride and joy in the glass. Some of the other Kermit value Rhônes come from Domaine de Durban in the village of Beaumes-de-Venise, which are a bit riper in style, while Demazet Vignobles, who’s been bringing small independent farmers sustainable income and making wine from interesting outlying areas here since 1929, and it’s a great fit to make this bargain red for Kermit, a wine that sometimes gets overlooked in his great portfolio, but one that never disappoints. As noted, this wine may have less Grenache than per normal, it still shine through and gives the dominate performance, but this unique combination of varietals made it all the more intriguing and impressive considering the size of production here.
($16 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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