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Vins de la Madone: Gamay + Granite

Discover Lip-smacking Biodynamic Gamay at a Great Price
Vins de la Madone: Gamay + Granite

The intriguing, tiny, shire-like appellation of the Côtes du Forez is one of France’s hidden gems. Although it is technically part of the Loire department, we tend to associate it more closely with Beaujolais. Firstly, this is a question of geography. The drive from Lyon to La Madone takes roughly an hour and a half, less than half the time it takes to reach this discreet volcano-studded appellation from Sancerre. Then, there is the granite-rich terroir and the key grape variety, Gamay. Sound familiar?

Gamay thrives in the volcanic and granite soils of the Massif Central. While the Gamay Noir of Beaujolais and the region’s own biotype, Gamay de Saint Romain, accounts for most of Gilles Bonnefoy’s 12 hectares of vines, he is also one of the few remaining vignerons to cling onto and celebrate his region’s pre-phylloxera heritage. In 2016, Gilles planted a single hectare of vines devoted to Gamay’s ancient teinturiers—red-fleshed cultivars, such as Gamay de Bouze and Gamay de Chaudenay. Thought to be introduced by the Benedictine monks, these old variants are now almost extinct outside the Côtes du Forez appellation, making its wines some of the most unique in France.

Far from being a throwback to another time, in Bonnefoy's hands, these varieties are woven together into something any wine-lover can appreciate: a vibrant, delicious red combining low-alcohol, lip-smacking energy and cool, crunchy freshness with marked savoury nuance from its volcanic soils.

The Wines

Vins de la Madone IGP Urfé Les Rougeots du Clos 2021

Vins de la Madone IGP Urfé Les Rougeots du Clos 2021

Les Rougeots du Clos is a single, one-hectare plot at 600 metres co-planted to three of Gamay’s red-fleshed teinturier clones. The first two are Gamay de Bouze and Gamay de Chaudenay. Thought to be introduced by the Benedictine monks, these old variants are now almost extinct outside the Monts du Forez. There’s also a little Gamaret, a cross between Gamay Noir and Reichensteiner created in Switzerland in 1970 (which may not easily fit the heirloom narrative of this wine, but it’s a grape Bonnefoy prizes for its vibrant black fruit character). These red-fleshed varieties are outlawed within the Côtes du Forez appellation, so this (delicious) wine is bottled under the IGP d'Urfé.

The soils here are Migmatite granite, a mix of metamorphic and igneous rock that forms the signature soil type of the region of Montbrison. As this is a young vine cuvée, Bonnefoy does not use any stems in the winemaking, and the wine is simply wild fermented and raised in cuve inox. Les Rougeots du Clos is vinifed without any added sulphur—Bonnefoy notes that the teinturier variants are less prone to oxidation and instead uses a little natural gas for protection.

You can pick this straight off the ‘vibrant, perfumed and crunchy shelf’. It’s aromatic and finely succulent with red current juiciness kissed by white peppercorn, hibiscus and elderberry notes with a thirst-quenching finish. All it needs is a baguette and some saucisson (or a ripe Brie).

Again, you can pick this straight off the ‘vibrant, perfumed and crunchy shelf’. It’s aromatic and finely succulent with red current juiciness kissed by white peppercorn, hibiscus and elderberry notes with a thirst-quenching finish. All it needs is a baguette and some saucisson (or a ripe Brie).

Vins de la Madone IGP Urfé Les Rougeots du Clos 2021

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