Ker­mit’s LEAP

HoW A pRe­scient Guide to OLd WORLd Wines in­Flu­enced Gen­eR­A­tions.

Town & Country (Philippines) - - OUT&ABOUT WINE - By Jay McIn­er­ney

Thirty years ago a small in­de­pen­dent pub­lisher called North Point Press, best known for cham­pi­oning lit­er­ary cult writ­ers like James Sal­ter, Beryl Markham, and Evan S. Con­nell, is­sued Ad­ven­tures on the Wine Route, the mem­oir of a wine im­porter named Ker­mit Lynch. North Point went out of busi­ness a few years later, but Lynch’s book—now pub­lished by Far­rar, Straus and Giroux—has con­tin­ued to en­thrall read­ers and wine lovers. Its ap­peal is in part a tes­ta­ment to the vi­vac­ity of the writ­ing—it’s a great travel book, a chron­i­cle of Lynch’s pere­gri­na­tions through ru­ral France packed with vivid anec­dotes and tart ob­ser­va­tions.

It also con­veys a sense of dis­cov­ery as Lynch ed­u­cates his own palate and finds buried trea­sures in the chilly cel­lars of Bur­gundy, the Rhône, and the Loire. But there is an un­der­tone that might be de­scribed as fiercely ele­giac, as he doc­u­ments and laments dis­ap­pear­ing tra­di­tions of la vieille France and de­plores the on­slaughts of moder­nity. Thirty years on, how­ever, he says some of his pes­simism may have been mis­placed. The val­ues he es­poused then, when he seemed like a voice in the wilder­ness, have been adopted by a new gen­er­a­tion of wine­mak­ers and drinkers.

By Lynch’s own de­scrip­tion he was a Berke­ley hip­pie when he first be­came in­ter­ested in wine. A mu­si­cian and a writer for the Berke­ley Barb, he bor­rowed $5,000 in 1972 to open a tiny wine store next to an In­dian-Mex­i­can restau­rant. Alice Waters, who had just opened Chez Panisse, was one of his early cus­tomers. At the time the wine busi­ness was in a slump. Cal­i­for­nia was still pro­duc­ing bulk wines with faux-French names, and the Amer­i­can mar­ket for French wines was largely re­stricted to the top growths of Bordeaux. Lynch cre­ated a niche by vis­it­ing the less celebrated re­gions of France and Italy and im­port­ing dis­tinc­tive re­gional wines, then pros­e­ly­tiz­ing from his Berke­ley store­front.

“I felt like Colum­bus dis­cov­er­ing the New World,” he says of his first en­counter with Charles Joguet of Chi­non—a de­scrip­tion that was equally ap­pli­ca­ble to sub­se­quent dis­cov­er­ies, like Henri Jayer and Gérard Chave and Vieux Télé­graphe. “Imag­ine you walk into a cel­lar no one has ever heard of,” he said to me re­cently, “and you have a glass of Rave­neau or Coche [dury] or de Mon­tille or

cult FAvorItE From top: Ker­mit lynch in France; the trav­el­ogue that in­tro­duced many Amer­i­cans to French wine; a 1964 Gigondas from Do­maine les pal­lières.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.