Traveling Through France At Halekulani

I have to tell you about this fabulous tasting I attended at Halekulani with 14 of Kermit Lynch’s vigneron in attendance. Just to have 14 of them in one place in Hawaii is a new first. I cannot remember another time when we had so many winemakers from France together. The food was divine and the wines were stellar.

There is a lengthy list of almost 50 wines to choose from, so I am going to pick my highlights from each producer.

I’ll complete my list next week.

Veuve Fourny is a very small Champagne producer from the village of Vertus in the Cote des Blancs. The Fourny brothers’ (Charles and Emmanuel) Champagnes are wonderfully sleek and finesseful and dominated by Chardonnay. Their Blanc de Blanc ($49) is one of the finest — and at a very reasonable price, I might add. It is creamy with a very fine mousse and a delicious Chardonnay flavor that luxuriates on your palate.

Kuentz-Bas hails from Alsace, as does its young winemaker Samuel Tottoli. My favorite at his table was a delicious bottle of 2013 Kuentz-Bas Alsace Blanc ($14). This blend of white grapes makes a wonderfully complex and satisfying dry white that jumps from the glass with flowers and citrus.

It is cloudlike on the palate and completely gulpable.

Didier and Catherine Champalou were visiting, and their 2013 Champalou Vouvray “La Cuvee des Fondraux” ($22) was delightful! It is Chenin Blanc with a combination of honey, melons and citrus with just a hint of sweetness. Enough to round out any perceived edges. This is perfect for any seafood dish with any hint of spicy heat!

Simon Chotard from the Loire Valley showed an absolutely scintillating 2014 Sancerre Ros ($20), YES, ros ! This is made with 100 percent Pinot Noir, and let me tell you, it had everyone talking.

The combination of juicy red fruit along with gobs of watermelon and bubblegum flavors were off-the-charts yummy.

Now, if you want a wine with plenty of earthiness and terroir, look no further than the Lavantureux brothers’ (Arnaud and David) 2013 Lavantureux Chablis Vieilles Vignes ($26). It is full of flint and oyster shells that go hand-in-hand with perfectly ripe and succulent white orchard fruit essences. In my mind, this is a benchmark Chablis at a fraction of the cost of some of the more well-known producers.

Also from Burgundy, Philippe Guillemot was representing his tiny family domain in Savigny-Les-Beaune. His 2013 Guillemot Savigny Les Beaune “Les Serpentieres” Premier Cru Pinot Noir ($49) was quite the darling of the sommeliers. Usually, for Premier Cru wine of this caliber one would have to spend $80 or more! It is impressively fruit forward with hints of spices and a juicy and silky tannin structure.

I will be getting some for my own cellar.

If Beaujolais is your thing, you must find a bottle of Cedric Chignard’s 2013 Chignard Julienas “Beauvernay” ($28). This wine would fool many for being Premier Cru Burgundy from the Cote de Nuits. It is so silky and plush. But the fruit is all Gamay with loads of freshly crushed berries and pears.

If you don’t like Beaujolais, you will after you taste this one.

Xavier Piton from Chateau Belles-Graves poured three vintages of his lovely wine. For me, the 2011 ($28) was the standout. This lush Merlot-based Bordeaux was sleek and velvety with cassis and creamy richness.

It makes me wonder why I don’t drink more Bordeaux.

Serge Ferigoule with his signature moustache came with his some Frederie. They make my favorite Vacaqueyras, and their 2012 Sang des Cailloux Cuvee Azalais ($35) was nothing but convincing. Wild herbs and spice combined with wet rock and perfectly mature and fresh red fruit jump from the glass. I can imagine sitting down with a peppered steak and just loving life.

A new producer to me was Domaine Mille Vignes. Valerie Guerin produces one of the most unique whites of the entire tasting, 2012 Mille Vignes “Chasse Filou” ($36). I had never had a white wine made from Carignan Blanc before.

Well, this wine is super intense, with laser-like acidity and minerality. It is unlike anything I’ve tasted before.

It had such zip and verve that I had to come back and taste it at least three times!

I’ll be sharing more next week.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier.
Twitter: @Pinotpusher