Here’s a trade secret it pays to know: When faced with an unfamiliar wine, turn the bottle around and check out the importer. If you’ve come to trust them for other wines in their portfolio, you’ll already have a good feeling for the style of the wine in your hand. That’s why we culled through the 100 Best Wines and 100 Best Buys of 2015 to see what names stood out. Four importers claim more recommendations in this issue than any others, hard proof that they are names you can trust. These are our Top Importers of the Year.
Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
Who: Kermit Lynch
Excels at: Somm catnip—i.e. wines that favor transparency and grace over power from some of the less explored pockets of the Old World, with a heavy concentration in France. Lynch is the guy who put Alsace on the map with the wines of Domaine Ostertag, and who championed the Loire long before Master Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier arrived on these shores.
Names to look for in this issue: Comtesse Bernard de Cherisey (Puligny-Montrachet); Domaine de la Chanteleuserie (Bourgueil); Domaine Ostertag (Alsace); Domaine du Salvard (Cheverny); Lambert de Seyssel (Savoie).
Old Bridge Cellars
Who: Rob Buono and Gavin Speight
Excels at: Australian wine—the fine kind, not the overblown fruit-bomb sort, from old-school classics like Chambers to newcomers like Giant Steps—both among our Top 100 Wineries this year.
Names to look for: D’Arenberg and Innocent Bystander in Australia and Maison L’Envoyé, a collaboration between Mark Tarlov of Chapter 24 Vineyards and Gavin Speight of Old Bridge Cellars, which turned out one of the 100 Best Buys of the Year, a great Morgon Côte du Py.
Vias Imports Ltd.
Who: Fabrizio Pedrolli and Pino Sola
Excels at: Traditionally-styled Italian wines from native grapes, particularly from Piedmont, where two of their wineries—Produttori del Barbaresco and Pecchenino—made our Top 100 Wineries list this year.
Names to look for: In addition to the Piedmont names, check out Terredora di Paolo Taurasi and Tenuta I Gelsi in Basilicata, as well as Allram, a Kamptal house from the Austrian arm of the portfolio, and Noemía in Patagonia, also a Top 100 Winery.
Who: Michael Quinttus
Excels at: Sleek, long-lived wines from a vast range of legendary names, including seven of our Top 100 Wineries this year: Bollinger Champagne, Domaine des Baumard in the Loire, E. Guigal in the Rhône, Lucien Le Moine in Burgundy, Le Macchiole in Tuscany, Quinta do Noval in Portugal’s Douro and Errázuriz in Chile.
Names to look for: All of the above, plus Telmo Rodriguez in Spain.
This story was featured in W&S Winter 2015.
This story appears in the print issue of Winter 2015.
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