When I sit down to write about a wine, or a winemaker, or really anything else for that matter, there’s always a first decision: whether to take the objective or subjective approach. Do I, for example, describe a vineyard, a climate, a technique and style; or do I talk about how such-and-such wine makes me feel, how it came out of the void and struck me with its vital personality, creating a memory to which I return every time I see the bottle on the shelf?
With the wines of Nicolas Vauthier, or “Kikro” as he is affectionately known, it can only be the latter. That's a picture ok Kikro in a vineyard near Irancy.
Two years ago, Quinn and I were dining at Chateaubriand. As some of you may know, eating at Chateaubriand can be frustrating: the menu is always changing, they are pushing the boundaries, experimenting on their customers, trying out dishes that aren’t yet perfect. So sometimes the place just fails. But when it all clicks, it’s an exhilarating experience—unparalleled, in my opinion. I’ve had the greatest meals of my life there. And tonight was one of them.
Back before natural wine was de rigeur in every neo-bistro in Paris, Chateaubriand filled out its list with the most progressive and eclectic set of natural wines anyone had ever seen: Robinot, Peron, Overnoy, Jambon, the list goes on. The list is now quite large, full of things unavailable anywhere else, served unpretentiously and enthusiastically. We started with a zero-so2 Gringet from Belluard and then about 5 minutes later, bottle just about empty, asked our server for a light red that we could drink throughout the meal.
Sébastien came back to the table a few minutes later, unceremoniously poured out two glasses, and rushed backed to the packed bar, bottle in hand. Quinn and I settled into it. It was iridescent ruby in color—a joy to swirl, to watch it shimmer in the soft light of the restaurant. Quinn sniffs it first and I see a big smile spreading across his face. I even got a picture of it!
It smells the way that only natural wine can smell: like fresh raspberries picked along the side of the highway, like a handful of fresh basil, like the skin of a ripe tomato, like a thunderstorm. We are relieved when Sébastien returns with the whole bottle: a Pinot Noir from Irancy, in the far north of Burgundy, up close to Chablis. The winemaker is Nicolas Vauthier, and the name of the winery is Vini Viti Vinci. We finish the whole thing with ease as a parade of perfect dishes came out of the kitchen—I remember, in particular, a dish of raw potato, cut into long pasta strands, tossed with heavy cream infused with pungent thyme branches. Quinn and I agreed it was pretty much the best meal we’d ever had, and the Vauthier wine stayed in our minds for the rest of the trip.
Turns out the wines are not available on the West Coast. One cuvée is imported on the East Coast, but really nothing much is available besides that. It seemed crazy to us that these wines were not being enjoyed in California. So we partnered with our good friend Josh Eubank to import the wines. It’s an exciting moment for us—our first “Ordinaire” selection, if you will. But really we had very little to do with it. Someone poured us this wine. We liked it. We bought it. And now we are offering it to you.
All the wines arrived this morning. We’ll open them on Saturday afternoon from 1 to 4pm. The cost is $10. If you want to buy the wines, but cannot make the tasting, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll set you up.
And sorry I never got the objective part of this write-up. I suppose there’s enough of that in this world.