2020 Les Vins de La Madone 'Rougeots du Clos Sans Soufre'
Region: Urfé IGP < Loire Valley < France
Grapes: Gamay de Chaudenay /Gamay de Bouze / Gamaret
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Demeter-certified biodynamic farming (since 2009); migmatite type of clay (volcanic origin) and granit soils; de-stemmed, indigenous yeast co-fermentation in stainless steel tank for 8-10 days with gentle daily punch-downs, then bottled unfined, with no added SO2; zero-zero; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Gilles Bonnefoy
The Massif Central, the highlands area of Southern France, used to be a much more important wine producing area until phylloxera struck, as it did everywhere. Replanting has been very gradual, because the region is closed and mountainous, making it more suited to cows -- and cheese production. Oh hey, Fourme d'Ambert! The vines that have been replanted on the mineral-rich volcanic soils are mostly to the Gamay grape, and the viticulture influence comes more from the neighboring Ardèche (Rhône Valley) than the Loire, within which the Urfé technically sits.
Here, most producers farm small plots and sell grapes to the co-op, who pay based on quantity vs. quality. Gilles Bonnefoy is one of a few who farms organically and bottles his own wine. And while his labels could certainly use some work, the juice inside is stellar. Like this 'Rougeots du Clos Sans Soufre' a blend of two Gamay varietals, one white-fleshed and the other pink-fleshed, and a close cousin, Gamaret, all grown on volcanic soils.
The color is dark and inky, and it smells glorious, like ripe forest fruits (black plum, cherry, blackberry), but the palate leans more to the southern Rhône, with its lush mouthfeel, taut structure and those juicy black raspberries, plums and volcanic rocks. Pure grapey Gamay goodness that would rock the holiday meal, while also being easy and light enough to sip on its own.
SERVE SLIGHTLY CHILLED