Wine 32: Valdiguié

This post will be relatively short and sweet, because the featured varietal, Valdiguié, is one that really doesn’t have a lot written about it! This red wine grape, originally found within the Languedoc-Roussillon region in Southern France, is almost extinct there. Although, you could potentially find this under its alter-ego/name, Gros Auxxerois. In France, Valdiguié was primarily used in Languedoc-Roussillon blends, not as a stand-alone varietal.

We can find it today in California, where it was dubbed the Napa Gamay or Gamay 15.  Names can be just as deceiving as looks, for many thought these wines came from vines of Beaujolais’ gamay grape. As a result of genetic testing which disproved the linkage, effective in 1999 “Napa Gamay” was banned from use on labels. Whether this ban came about from a request from the French themselves or the vintner associations of the States, I don’t blame them. I don’t think it’s fair to ride the coat-tails of a reputable wine; you gotta make a name for yourself!!

Valdiguié grapes produce dark colored wines, supposedly light to medium body and low in alcohol. You can find some prominent wine names in California making Valdiguié – like J. Lohr – but you’ll also find other producers if you look hard enough.  

My interest was peaked about 6 months ago when I bought a bottle of Folk Machine Valdiguié after perusing the shelves of a local wine shop. Cool label, for sure, but I knew nothing of what to expect. The unique varietal was all that I needed to convince me to buy the bottle.  Twist my arm, why don’t you! Unfortunately, I have no idea where that bottle went! I don’t remember drinking it, and I highly doubt my husband popped it open. Thankfully, I had already purchased a second bottle of this French-originated varietal from Buena Vista (remember, one of the many wine clubs I belong to?): 

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I couldn’t find the spec sheet on this wine – must be sold out – but you can see from their website, they’ve got so many unique varietals represented in their offerings. Don’t be surprised if you see a few more from Buena Vista in the near future. 😉 For those who haven’t heard of this gem, Buena Vista is the oldest bonded winery in the entire US, hailing back to 1857! Agoston Haraszthy, its founder, actually first founded what’s now known as the Wollersheim Winery in Wisconsin! Over in Sonoma, they have so many cool grapes hanging on the vines, which offers wine drinkers options to sip the unordinary (anyone sick of just drinking Napa Cabs?). I’ve only been there once, but I feel like I could go on and on about BVW, so I’ll stop myself here.

I always like to rope my parents into trying new wines with me, so on my last trip home I didn’t ask, just poured us all glasses. Amazing they trust me, right? Below, I’ve detailed the flavors from when I tasted it – un-decanted:

Appearance: This wine was deep ruby. Not totally opaque, but for sure one that I imagined would have some good body to it.

Nose: This wine had strong aromas of stewed plums, baking spices (the ones you smell after opening the oven when your cake has just finished baking) and a touch of leather. I also picked up soft hints of herbs.

Palate: This wine was medium bodied, with medium-plus tannins and acidity. Actually, the bright acidity was surprising but worked so well with the fruit and spices that it was actually quite refreshing.

Overall: This was a pretty good wine, one I’d actually order again. If I had to equate it to something else, I’d say the Beaujolais comparison isn’t far off, but I thought this one offered much more fruit and robustness than the Beaujolais wines I’ve had before. I think this red may be a good summer/early fall option.

I’ll be back again soon, until then, cheers and happy hump day!

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