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Welcome to the Virtuous Vine Newsletter. Here, you will find some news about our current commercial activity, some food for thought, and other little drops in the ocean to help wash it all down.

Never fear, Gamay is here,
to save the world
from over-complicated drinks
 The month of (Ga)may
There are so many reasons to love Gamay, and our customers seem to agree. Compared to all other grape varieties, sales of Gamay wines in 2016 for Virtuous Vine have been the biggest, by a long, long way!
See “The Think” below for more discussion about this grape variety. But in short, Gamay typically shows an outstandingly high reading on the Drinkability Scale, yet has a great capacity to translate terroir not dissimilar to Pinot Noir.
We are currently stocking the following Gamay wines, great for drinking during (Ga)May, all from different and articulate terroirs:
  • Domaine Jousset – Exile 2014 – Rose Pet-Nat (Touraine, Loire Valley)
  • Domaine Venier – Le Clos des Carteries 2014 (Cheverny, Loire Valley)
  • Domaine Bauchet – Sur la Root 2013 (Fleurie, Beaujolais)
  • Domaine Cotton – 100% Cotton 2014 (Cote de Brouilly, Beaujolais)
The Jousset Gamay is grown on sandy soils and makes a super fun fruity rose, and the incredibly deft handed Jousset winemaking creates a very savoury, dry sparkling wine. Clean, dry, sexy.
The Venier fruit is grown on a mix of sandy soils, plus some clay and limestone. The secret to great Cheverny, of which this is a fine example, is not over-extracting tannins in order to maintain a wine built with textured layers of fruit and spice with a lean and acid driven backbone.
The Fleurie zone is like a set of beach dunes, built on deep drifts of decomposing, crumbly granite. It doesn’t look like the super hard blocks of Beechworth granite at all! Fleurie makes wines of great elegance and aromatic finesse.
The cote de Brouilly is one of just a couple of exceptions in Beaujolais, being a non-granite terroir. Rather, the Cote de Brouilly is an ultra steep slope of schist and metamorphic rubble. Even mountain goats think twice before climbing this hill. The resulting wines are quite intense, more heavily structured than other crus, but with a deep mineral acidity.
by Charlie Simpson 

To every man his magnum

We love terroir, and love to talk about the unique taste of place. And often with this approach the goal is to forget grape variety, such that geology and terroir speak alone, not the grape variety itself. But it seems to me that one variety needs to be mentioned, and needs to speak as loudly as its terroir. Gamay.
Gamay should speak in tongues of ripe and abundant fruit. It should remind you of days when blackberries were ripe, and your stomach not large enough to contain all that your greedy hands could loot. Once its fruit-driven destiny is fulfilled, Gamay may then begin to speak of terroir.
Unfortunately, the world’s most famous Gamay was built on an abuse of this affable quality. Beaujolais Nouveau. And the world was tricked into thinking that Gamay was incapable of making serious wine.
We should forget Beaujolais Nouveau. And thankfully lots of people have. Lessons have been learned, and the fast track cash machine that has usurped the reputation of one of France’s fine and certainly very unique terroirs now serves only a relatively few large corporations and cooperatives. The real Beaujolais is made with ripe grapes, and the time needed to bring it to bottle in an honest and delicious way is afforded. Under these conditions, Gamay can truly shine on what is a very uncommon terroir in France: granite, Gamay’s true fetish. Terroir can indeed play a role in Gamay production.
But let’s be clear, Gamay is a drink made for drinkers. In the Beaujolais, visits to producers seem not to end, rather they morph into aperitif, and spitbuckets are almost never provided. They say that the Magnum is the most appropriately sized bottle, 750ml being too little to appreciate an evening drink with friends. Thus the Magnum has been deemed about the right quantity (for one person). To every man his magnum!
As a wine geek, it seems indecent to not speak volumes on the intricate and fine details of a wine over an interminable tasting of intellectual detail. But why not!? It also seems instinctively appropriate that some fine wines be made for drinking, and no better to fill that role than Gamay. Yes, this is fine wine, but no, it is not complicated!
In our humble opinion…

by Charlie Simpson 

[PORTRAIT]Pierre Cotton - Côte de Brouilly  (Beaujolais)
Pierre is the next in a very long line of winemakers in the Sanvers & Cotton families. He is the 9th generation. The family-run Domaine, and the family home, sit smack-bang, mid-slope, right in the middle of the hill side known as the Côte de Brouilly, the highest and most visually spectacular of all of the Beaujolais’ crus. Pierre has Brouilly in his veins, and he knows the trials and tribulations of working on this heroic hillside, so steep it is scary to walk up, let alone work on the small bush vines scattered upon it. But Pierre did not rest on the previous generation; he left, explored and learned, working for winemakers all across France and particularly in the Loire Valley. During his travels, he confirmed his desire to pursue natural viticulture and make natural wines. He now has an incredibly exciting future ahead and a desire to make zero-entrant wines, but with lots of responsibility as he begins to take over the family Domaine. We think he is a bit of a star in the making, and a great young bloke with a curious mind and courageous heart.
by Charlie Simpson 

 The Drinkability Scale
One of the very noticeable outcomes of the modern wine revolution we are currently experiencing is the increasing importance placed on “Drinkability”. Synonyms include “Digestibility” and “Smashability”. In French, “Buvabilité”. These are mostly made up words, but which describe very well a concept that wines should be an easy pleasure to consume, with or without food.
This does not mean that such wines must be simple. In fact, the more complex they are aromatically and texturally the better. But their structure should be based on soft easy tannins, generous integrated acidity, fresh lifted flavours and a dry clean finish which leaves the soul cleansed and the palate refreshed and ready to sip again.
These are the sorts of wines that seem to do a Houdini disappearing act. The bottom of the bottle is an unexpected shock, it comes way too quickly, so you end up having to double up.
Naturally made Gamay wines often show a very high reading on the Drinkability Scale. Watch out for double orders…
Word of ze month "Canon" (Like “Can on!” but don’t pronounce the last “n”)
Same as in English (a big fat gun type thing), but with a couple of extra street uses, which we like!
C’est canon! – That’s awesome!
Elle est canon – she looks pretty good!
Boire un canon – have a drink
Un coup de canon – a hit of grog
Payer un canon – to shout a round of drinks
Descendre des canons – gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp………
Canon (pronouncing the “n” this time) – cameras and photocopiers etc.
Manifeste pour le vin naturel by Antonin Iommi-Amunategui

The author suggests here a definition for Natural Wine, up until now missing, as well as a panorama of the different and divergent points of view which currently roam the planes of the natural wine world.

But moreover, he presents natural wine as the tip of the iceberg of societal change, which commences with agricultural revolution, natural wine being the flag ship.



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