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12 May 2022 | Samantha Dugan

A SUM OF ITS PARTS

2019 Domaine de la Vigne Mouton

Macon-Bray Gamay “Ratatouille” $30.99 per bottle

I admit that I am forever baffled by the American infatuation with having to know what variety, or varieties of grapes are in a bottle of wine. Maybe it’s because I have always been a French wine lover.  Never thought I liked wine until I had French wine, in fact, where the variety is not the focus; it’s the terroir or place the wine comes from that matters.

In all fairness, there are laws in most French wine growing regions that determine what can be grown in a region in order to call it a Beaujolais, Chablis, or Chateauneuf-du-Pape, et cetera, so there is some assurance as to what the wine will taste like, but the variety is not the reason why, the place is.

One of my favorite examples is Chablis.  If you asked me for a glass of Chardonnay and I poured you a glass of steely, mineral-rich and racy Chablis, which is made from Chardonnay but tastes nothing like the Chardonnay most people know, you would think I was high.

I look at tech sheets and find myself chuckling when I see 45% of this, 14% of that, 22% of this 18% of that and 1% of something else, because those numbers are going to totally let you know what that wine will taste like.  Just never understood that whole needing-to-know, but I guess it’s what people are used to, or comfortable with if they are accustomed to buying and drinking American wines.  So I do try and list the varieties when I write my French wines up, but I know for a fact many of those French tech sheets haven’t been adjusted or changed, no matter what is in the wine, for decades, and are often written by the distributers to encourage sales, via comfort, for the U.S. market.

Bottom line for me, the wine has to taste great, no matter what’s in it, and I came face to face with this whole situation last week when I fell madly in love with a lovely and super-intriguing wine from Burgundy’s northern Maconnais, owned by husband-and-wife team Sébastien and Delphine Boisseau. 

After Sébastien took over the family domaine from his parents in northern Macon, he continued to sell his production to the local cooperative before embarking on a program to make their vineyards healthier.  With his wife Delphine, the couple converted to organic farming, earning their certification in 2007.  In 2012 they began selling their wines under the name Domaine de la Vigne Mouton.

I was instantly charmed when I tasted this charming red Burgundy. The purity of fruit, the layers of complexity, the slightly haunting aromas that had me digging my nose in the glass repeatedly.  

The importer had only 3 cases…I took them all before I even checked on the price.  Luckily, it wasn't on the super high end, and what this wine gives in sheer pleasure is worth every cent.

So, the sales rep told me the wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, when I looked at the label it said 100% Gamay.  Puzzled, I took to the internet to get answers, always a dodgy plan. After pulling myself out of that rabbit hole I got a hold of the importer. Turns out the family puts Gamay on the label to make things less complicated, but the wine is actually made from Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay and Aligote! Two red varieties and two white, how crazy is that? Helps explain the complexity and uniqueness of this beautiful wine.

Putting those varieties on the label wouldn’t tell anyone anything about how utterly charming this wine is and would do nothing in terms of what the consumer is to expect, so I guess putting Gamay on the label makes just as much sense as anything.  Lighter body, tons of tart red cherry, mushroom, cranberry, spice, and touch of citrus zest. Such a cool wine, and unlike any others we have in the French department right now. It's also certified organic and there are no sulfites added. All sorts of cool.

Only 3 cases available.

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