ACL Appreciation | Kermit Lynch

Kermit Lynch is not a name you forget–so it’s good that the man lives up to his moniker. Mr. Lynch imports wine, which sounds like something that’s easy. But it’s only easy for those who do it badly. For those, like dear Mr. Lynch, who do it well it involves trips, over decades, to dank caves and cellars (mostly in France) to taste wine directly from the barrel, and deciding if they’re going to be good over the course of their bottled life. Like many of the most important things, it’s a talent that can’t be taught.

Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant is an establishment of good repute in Berkeley. Lynch leaves nothing to chance–he imports his wine in climate-controlled containers, and insists that stores around the country receive them in the same. No heat casualties, no excuses.

And what of his taste? He values wines that reflect their terroir–the land where they were grown, wine that’s not overpowering, often unfiltered. Who’s afraid of a good Beaujolais or a little sediment? Fruit should be welcomed. You can hear it from the man himself in his book, Adventures on the Wine Route, which now qualifies as a minor masterpiece.

Better yet, enjoy some bottles–New Yorkers ought to make a pilgrimage to Thirst Wine Merchant in Fort Greene for a terrific selection. It’s all a reminder, if one was needed, that wine is here to give pleasure. And that wine, like tailoring, should be done in a direct, traditional way, by those who know what’s what.***

David Coggins writes for Bergdorf Goodman. In a moment of weakness, he recently joined Twitter.

Comments on “ACL Appreciation | Kermit Lynch

    Kevin on April 12, 2012 5:06 PM:

    I’ve had a handful of Kermit Lynch’s wines the past few years and have never once been dissapointed. The best part of his selections is that a great many of them come in at very affordable price points so he’s not just going out and picking out the expensive/premier bottles. So cool that you guys did an article on him as he most certainly deserves it.
    On a completely unrelated topic everyone needs to go check out Kirk Miller at Millers Oath. He’s absolutely killing it, and even if you can’t afford one of his custom suits I think it’s worth your time to stop by his shop and see what he’s all about, and maybe even pick up a great tie or pocket square while you’re there!

    Michael Williams on April 12, 2012 5:08 PM:
    Al James on April 12, 2012 6:51 PM:

    What truly boggles the mind is that importers like Kermit Lynch and Michael Sullivan at Beaune Imports (also from SF area) can find the best wines from the small, premier producers from all over France, float them carefully across the ocean and still get them in the best restaurants and wine shops in America for half the price of bloated, alcoholic wines from the New World. I have to commend ACL in recognizing that the ‘Made In America’ ethos doesn’t have to be strictly enforced across the board.

    Garrick on April 12, 2012 7:52 PM:

    Hey stranger,

    my query is unrelated to this particular post, but I was just wondering if sometime in the near future you would be producing a limited run of vintage athletic US military inspired ACL stencil type print grey cotton t shirts?

    A random query..I know, I just have a great vision of how good these could look.

    Great blog by the way…have been a follower for a few years now.

    Hope to hear back sometime soon.


    Reuben on April 12, 2012 10:07 PM:

    I co-sign the sentiments expressed in AJ’s comment. The first whole case of wine I ever purchased was an organic red burgundy imported by Beaune. It was nothing like the typical cherry-bomb Pinot produced on the West Coast, and I loved what a departure it was from the norm. That said, great wines that express their terroir can be found here; they just seem pricier, few and far between.

    Brian Miller on April 13, 2012 12:14 AM:

    Kermit is a good fellow. A very good friend has worked for him for years and for that long I’ve been a faithful customer and reader of his newsletter. Wonderful, dramatic writing which I highly recommend. Try to make to one of his parking lot tasting events. Out of this world.

    Greg Sorensen on April 13, 2012 6:42 AM:

    I recently had the pleasure of meeting Kermit Lynch after drinking his wines for years. The dinner was thrown by Thirst Wine Merchants at their restaurant/wine bar, Thirstbaravin. If I could offer my take away on Kermit Lynch wines, they never disappoint. Period. If I come across a bottle with the Kermit Lynch label, I know I am in for a treat. He is a genial a fellow as you would ever like to meet as well. Ta.

    K. A. Adams on April 13, 2012 9:50 AM:

    For an importer from the East Coast I would recommend Michael Skurnik and his colleague Terry Theise:

    Theise’s manifesto:

    Beauty is more important than impact.

    Harmony is more important than intensity.

    The whole of any wine must always be more than the sum of its parts.

    Distinctiveness is more important than conventional prettiness.

    Soul is more important than anything, and soul is expressed as a trinity of family, soil, and artisanality.

    Pierre on April 13, 2012 12:44 PM:

    And Bobby Kacher, a terrific fellow and a wine personality as well, should be included among the distinguished men already mentioned. Another man whose $10 bottles impress almost as much in their own way as the $100 labels.

    Allen on April 13, 2012 5:28 PM:

    A little disappointed that you only spent 4 short paragraphs on a great man and a great business when you’ll spend pages on a jacket. Could have sat on this another couple of days and done justice to it.

    SGoldman on April 13, 2012 7:59 PM:

    I’ve been drinking his selections since 1970, when he first started selling wine. His passion was for France and he built a business as an excuse to travel all the byways and small hamlets of the country in search of their culture. What resulted was a love of wine that truly reflected the earth that produced them. As his palette and knowledge grew, he was able to bring this experience back to his home turf of Albany, California. He never wavered and never disappointed. Whether it was small production wines of France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland or amazing olive oils, Sherrys, or barrel aged vinegars Kermit kept blowing his customers away. And at a price that was so reasonable given the time and trouble he went to. I’m so happy to see this post Michael, you picked a true one-of-a-kind original to spotlight.

    Q on April 14, 2012 1:05 AM:

    Does anyone know any great Chicago emporiums?

    Bebe on April 14, 2012 2:06 AM:

    Thanks kindly for the reminder about Kermit Lynch and his unerring taste in all things vinous. His inclusion of the benefits of wine on labels reminds of what my high school golf coach, who enjoyed the grape with much pleasure, often exclaimed, “Wine is a food!”

    Carm on April 14, 2012 9:27 AM:

    Growing on the same vine as Mr. Lynch, I’d like to bring to light Greg and David Moore of Moore Brother’s Wine. They too employ the same distribution model as Mr. Lynch and provide quality wines for every budget. 3 stores only, NYC, Wilmington DE, and Pennsauken NJ.

    Smith & Ratliff on April 15, 2012 11:16 PM:

    Now this is the type of guy ACL could do more profiles of.

Comments are closed.