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09.29.2005

Small Producers of France: A Tasting of Robert Kacher Selections

kacher.logo.gifThis entry could just have easily been entitled "eclectic little wines from France" or "the best French wines you may never have heard of" or "One man's guide to some good French &%$@." Robert Kacher has been chasing down and importing wines from France (and, it turns out, Portugal) for over 30 years. It's unfair to both of their accomplishments to compare him with Kermit Lynch, but by way of illustration, I hold both of them in the same esteem as luminaries and ambassadors to a world of fabulous wines that even many wine lovers have never heard of.

The first time I encountered Kacher's talents was many years ago when I grabbed a random brown bottle of wine one day at a local store and popped it open to discover a wine that tasted unlike any other I had tasted at that point. It was GOOD. I turned over the bottle and saw the words "Imported by Robert Kacher Selections" and thought I should keep an eye out for his wines (especially because the bottle I loved so much only cost eleven bucks!). Flash forward eight years and I can say without a doubt that some of the best values in French wine I've ever had have been at the hands of Kacher Selections.

So needless to say, when I got the opportunity to taste through a lineup of some of his current releases this week thanks to one of his distributors, I jumped at the chance. As expected, all of the wines were good, and many were exceptional.


CHAMPAGNE
NV Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Les Mesnil-sur-Oger, Pascal Doquet. Score:9. Price: $51
NV Brut Rosé, 1er Cru, Pascal Doquet. Score:9. Price: $41
NV Lamiable Brut Grand Cru. Score:8.5. Price: $54.

SOUTHERN WHITES
2004 Mas Carlot Cuvée Tradition Blanc (Marsanne/Roussanne). Score:8.5/9. Price: $11
2004 Lalande Sauvignon Blanc. Score:8.5. Price: $11
2004 Domaine de Gournier Chardonnay. Score:8/8.5. Price: $13
2004 Domaine de Pouy Côtes de Gascogne Blanc. Score:8/8.5. Price: $9

LOIRE WHITES
2004 Jean Thomas Sancerre La Crèle. Score:9. Price: $27
2004 Philippe Portier "Quincy." Score:8.5/9. Price: $19

WHITE BURGUNDY
2003 Alain Coche-Bizouard Meursault L'Ormeau. Score:9. Price: $65
2003 Marc Morey Chassagne Montrachet "Les Blanchots Dessous." Score:9. Price: $60
2003 Bertrand Amboise Hautes Côtes de Nuits. Score:9. Price: $31
2002 Claude Chevalier Ladoix Bois de Grechons. Score:8.5/9. Price: $31
2002 Claude Chevalier Ladoix 1er Cru Les Grechons. Score:8.5/9. Price: $42
2004 Christophe Thibert-Parisse Mâcon Prissé. Score:8.5. Price: $21
2003 Bertrand Ambroise St. Romain. Score:8.5. Price: $36

ALSACE
2001 Philippe Ehrhart Pinot Gris Grand Cru "Brand." Score:9.5. Price: $31
2002 René Muré Gewurztraminer Tradition. Score:9/9.5. Price: $18
2002 Philippe Ehrhart Gewurztraminer Grand Cru "Hengst." Score:9/9.5. Price: $31
2002 Philippe Ehrhart Riesling Vieilles Vignes. Score:9/9.5. Price: $17
2003 Philippe Ehrhart Pinot Auxerrois Val St. Gregoire. Score:9. Price: $17
1999 René Muré Riesling Grand Cru "Clos St. Landelin." Score:9. Price: $43
2003 René Muré Riesling Tradition. Score:8.5/9. Price: $18
2004 Philippe Ehrhart Gewurztraminer "Herrenweg." Score:8.5/9. Price: $19
2003 Philippe Ehrhart Pinot Gris "Im Berg." Score:8.5. Price: $19

COSTIERES DES NIMES / LANGUEDOC REDS
2004 Domaine de Gournier Rosé. Score:9/9.5. Price: $10
2003 Château de Montpezat Coteaux du Languedoc Palombières. Score:9/9.5. Price: $16
2001 Château d'Or et de Gueules Rouge Select. Score:9. Price: $14
2003 Château Montroche Costières de Nimes Rouge. Score:8.5. Price: $10
2004 Mas Carlot Cuvée Tradition Rouge (Grenache/Syrah). Score:8/8.5. Price: $11
2003 Mas Carlot Cabernet/Syrah. Score:8/8.5. Price: $15
2003 Domaine de Cantarelles Cabernet/Syrah. Score:8/8.5. Price: $16
2004 Château Grande Cassagne Costières de Nimes Rouge "G.S." Score:8. Price: $11
2004 Domaine de Gournier Merlot. Score:8. Price: $10

RHONE REDS
2003 Domaine Font de Michelle Châteauneuf du Pape. Score:8.5/9. Price: $40
2002 Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas. Score:8.5/9. Price: $34
2003 Domaine Santa Duc Côtes du Rhône Les Quatre Terres. Score:8.5/9. Price: $16
2003 Domaine de Coste Chaude Côtes du Rhône. Score:8.5. Price: $13
2001 Domaine Santa Duc Cairanne. Score:8.5. Price: $19
2004 Domaine de Fondreche Côtes du Ventoux Rouge. Score:8/8.5. Price: $14
2003 Domaine de L'Enclos (André Brunel) Côtes du Rhône. Score:8/8.5. Price: $11
2002 Domaine Font de Michelle Châteauneuf du Pape. Score:8/8.5. Price: $33

RED BURGUNDY
2003 Claude Chevalier Ladoix 1er Cru Les Corvees. Score:9/9.5. Price: $43
2003 Claude Chevalier Ladoix Rouge. Score:9. Price: $26
2002 Nicolas Rossignol Volnay 1er Cru "Ronceret." Score:8.5/9. Price: $82
2002 Bruno Lorenzon Mercurey Rouge. Score:8.5. Price: $33
2004 Domaine des Nugues Beaujolais Villages. Score:8. Price: $14

PORTUGAL
2003 Quinta do Alqueve Tardio dessert wine. Score:9.5/10. Price: $26
2004 Quinta do Alqueve Fernao Pires. Score:9/9.5. Price: $11
2002 Quinta do Alqueve Tradicional. Score:9. Price: $11
2001 Quinta do Alqueve Touriga Nacional. Score:8/8.5. Price:$16

SWEET WINES
2003 Château Puy Servain Haut-Montravel Vin Doux. Score:9. Price: $32
2004 Domaine de Beaumalric Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. Score:8.5/9. Price: $34
2003 Domaine La Hitaire "Jardin d'Hiver." Score:8.5. Price: $15

Where to find these wines
There are several retailers in the Bay Area that carry segments of this portfolio, both large and small. These include Mill Valley Market, Vintage Wines and Spirits, Plump Jack, Paul Marcus Wines, Draeger's, K&L, Beltramo's, Whole Foods, Bottle Barn, and The Wine House.

If you're not in the Bay area, I suggest you try Wine Searcher or your favorite local store that sells imports.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud