The name zymology means the chemistry of fermentation. To Demian Deschepper, self proclaimed Prime Minister of the Chicago based wine importer and distributor by the same name, this word is perfect. As a “science and wine geek”, Deschepper, along with co-owner Kelsey Norcott, has formed Zymology Wine Collective and secures unique wines of superior quality from boutique, family owned, benchmark level producers from around the world, wines that other suppliers do not have access to. Having worked with the wineries to “negotiate pricing that is mutually beneficial and sustainable for themselves and the consumer”, these wines are delivered to sommeliers, restaurants, and the trade in the Chicago area. No wine is purchased from domestic brokers; Zymology Wine Collective is able to bring wines to the market at 15-20% less than wholesalers. In essence, Deschepper and Norcott are “gatekeepers” who bring difficult to procure wines to Chicago wine lovers.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Demian while noshing on cheese and charcuterie and savoring tastes of four bottles of special, small production wines at his Chicago office. After a few years of experience in sales and working with a too-large (for him) wine company, he realized the need for a business employing those with a high work ethic who also share his passion for wine. Founded in 2013, Deschepper has created a collegial working environment that “breeds loyalty”; after a certain amount of time, each employee owns a small share in the company. Strong relationships are also built with those in the trade who appreciate the concept and fairness of Zymology. Value and service are paramount.
Yet wine is king. Deschepper carefully curates his extensive portfolio of wines around the world and personally visits wineries that make up to 200 cases per year. Wines are sent to him for review although this does not guarantee a place on the list. Specifically, Deschepper is seeking interesting, exceptional wines with small production. A selection of his wines are in Chicago restaurants including Del Frisco, Acanto, Acadia, Ceres’ Table, David Burke’s Primehouse, Fairmont Hotel, Bascule Wine Bar, and City Winery. Consumer reaction has been positive. Sommeliers enjoy educating others about these wines and frankly, wine lovers “want to try new things”. He admits that he is looking to expand to other areas of the country and is now receiving investor funding.
If the quality of all of the wines in the Zymology portfolio is as high as those I tasted then Demien Deschepper is certainly achieving one of his goals; the wines I tasted were notable.
The Ancilla Lugana Ella 2014 was 100% Turbiana, a variety I had not tried. From vineyards in Lake Garda in the northeast of Italy, the wine was pale yellow in the glass with aromas and tastes of juicy citrus and a hint of grapefruit layered with bracing acidity and minerality. The winery is owned by Luisella Benedetti, a third generation of women to run the estate, who is maintaining her heritage by crafting wines of Turbiana, also known as Trebbiano di Lugana.
Every wine lover needs to walk through a gate where a delicious, adventurous wine is waiting. Thanks, Zymology Wine Collective. I think I’ll come in.