The Holidays are now behind us. We’ve just received the credit card bills for all our follies and it’s time to return to safer ground. For wine lovers, this means putting away the really choice bottles for special moments and focusing on excellent wines — that don’t cost a fortune!

The good news is that we are quite lucky. I remember a time, not so long ago, when inexpensive wines were kind of lousy and if you found a good buy, you were very, very lucky.

European producers and importers have realized, over the past few years, that they need to create a solid base of customers for their wines and that merely providing a label saying “Made in France” or “Made in Italy” means nothing unless there is something serious in the bottle. Some of the great importers of our day started the process of finding producers who were passionate about their wines. Additionally, they told those producers what the American buyers were interested in, and what style of wine they should offer. The importers were so involved that many of them invested into purchasing vineyards, or partnering with producers by taking their entire allocation every single year. Kermit Lynch and Eric Solomon were at the forefront of this movement and are the best-known importers today.


Michel Thibault with Kermit Lynch.

Eric Solomon

Henri Boillot

Kermit Lynch is larger than life, a pioneer in quality wines and one of the most respected personalities in the wine world. Read his book: Adventures on the Wine Route — so much knowledge!

Eric Solomon focuses on quality-price ratio and his imports from France to Spain are never off. His entire family is committed to excellence. His wife, Daphne Glorian, is known to make arguably the finest Spanish wines: Clos Erasmus (the Lafite Rothschild of Spain), Terrasses and Laurel. Quite a resume!

Among the special offers we are presenting today, are quite a few Bordeaux, whites and reds, with both younger and older vintages. Some of Eric Solomon wines, mainly from Domaine Lafage — one of my all time favorite producers — are here. Also, a couple of Kermit’s wines from the South of France as well as a white Burg from the King himself, Henri Boillot. Here too is an amazing German late-harvested Riesling from a seldom seen vintage and my favorite Albariño.

These wines are so well-priced that you can drink them every day, be confident to serve them at large parties or give them away as gifts. Call 850-687-1370 or write to order.

2003 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Spätlese. (white) MTW 95. $29.99!!!
Great acidity and complex structure in this beautiful wine. Semi-soft but perfect with savory dishes. This wine offers aromas of honeysuckle and wild flowers. A total treat.

2016 Burgans Albariño. (white) Decanter 91. $12.99
From Rias-Baixas, this wine was raised on granite and schist soils and is completely fermented in steel tanks by Martin Codax. Mineral but rich, this is simply delicious! Eric Solomon import.

Southern France
2014 Domaine Lafage Tessallae Carignan. (red) WA 92. $13.99
70 year-old Carignan vines with concrete tank fermentation. Carignan has often been replaced in the south of France with Grenache and Syrah, but these old vines produce a majestic wine. Eric Solomon import.

2015 Domaine Lafage Cuvée Centenaire. (white) WA 90-92. $11.99
Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Roussanne. Produced from 100 year-old Grenache vines and younger Roussanne vines. Amazing balance of fruit and acidity. Eric Solomon import.

2015 Clos La Coutale Cahors. (red) MTW 92. $18.99
Known as the “Black Wine of the Southwest” this blend of 80% Malbec (Yes, in France!) and 20 % Merlot will stand up to steaks, duck or cassoulet. A bold wine but never over the top. Kermit Lynch import.

Collioure, where Templar Knights actually planted the first vines on hillsides so steep that cultivation is done by hand. Photo by Marla Norman.

2015 Domaine La Tour Vieille “La Pinède” Collioure. (red) MTW 92. $19.99
From one of the most beautiful regions of France, near the border of Spain — where the sea, mountains and vineyards all fuse into a glorious sight — is La Tour Vieille. Templar Knights actually planted the first vines here on hillsides so steep that cultivation is done by hand. La Pinède is a blend of Black Grenache, with some Carignan, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Marla and I just drank it with a gorgeous salmon fillet she prepared and the wine never overwhelmed the food. But wow — did it accompany it well! Kermit Lynch import.

2016 Henri Boillot Bourgogne Blanc. MTW 92-94. $19.99!!!
A declassified blend of village wines in a perfect marriage. Some folks complain that California Chardonnay is too oaky, others that white Burgundies are too dry. This is a precise, though exuberant wine that gives you extreme pleasure for $20. Seriously? Michel Thibault Wine import

Bordeaux Rouge
2003 Château Haut Bergey, Pessac-Léognan. MTW 91. $29.99
2011 Château Haut Bergey, Pessac-Léognan. WS 90. $30.99. Only one case.
2014 Château d’Arce. Castillon. JS 91. $17.99
2005 Château Bernadotte. Haut-Médoc. WS 92, $28.99
2010 Château Bernadotte. Haut-Médoc. WE 92 & “Cellar Selection.” $24.99
2002 Château Barde-Haut, Saint-Émilion. MTW 92. $36.99
2004 Château Barde-Haut, Saint-Émilion. WS 91. $29.99
2008 Château Barde-Haut, Saint-Émilion. WS 92. $33.99
2015 Château Barde-Haut, Saint-Émilion. JS 94-96, $38.99

Bordeaux Blanc
2015 Château Thieuley, Entre-Deux-Mers. AG 88-90, $11.99
2016 Château Puyanche, Bordeaux Blanc 2016. MTW 91. $13.99