Verdier-Logel, 2020 Update
If you were ask me what my greatest vinous discovery of the first decade of this century was (which seems an unlikely question to be honest, but bear with me), I would have to say it was the realisation that everything I had ever read about Muscadet was false. The words of many mainstream wine writers were untrue; not only were the wines in fact delicious, but they could also age well in the cellar. As proof positive, I have been drinking some wonderful Muscadets from the 2010 vintage over the past few weeks, and from the right domaine they are mind-blowingly divine.
Move forward in time a little, and a very strong contender for my greatest discovery of the second decade of this century would have to be Gamay from the Upper Loire. The vines which scamper up the slopes of the Massif Central were once part of a great vineyard covering many tens of thousands of hectares and would have stood comparison with Bordeaux, Burgundy or indeed any of France’s most famous regions. After phylloxera the vast majority of plantings disappeared and as a consequence the entire region teetered on the brink of extinction. Thanks to a few hardy souls, however, the tradition of the vine continues, although today just a few isolated pockets of viticulture remain.
These vineyards mostly lie either on the banks of the very upper reaches of the Loire, or its tributary the Allier, and thus they have been welcomed into the Ligérian fold. I remember the first time I tasted wines from the Côtes d’Auvergne at the Salon des Vins de Loire, many years ago. The wines were interesting, but I came away more than a little nonplussed. What were these vignerons from the Auvergne doing at this exclusively Ligérian wine fair? A little reading opened my eyes to the great viticultural history of the upper reaches of the Loire, and my understanding of where the boundaries of the modern-day Loire vineyard should be placed was rapidly redefined. Time spent at the Salon des Vins de Loire is nothing if not educational.