Tag Archives: Red

A fortified red from…. the Beaujolais?!

My uncle came to visit for a couple days, and in addition to some of my favorite Jura reds, he also brought along this very original bottle of fortified wine from the Beaujolais.

Domaine des Terres Vivantes

From the little I could find online, the Domaine des Terres Vivantes -Living Soils Estate- is a relatively recent organic estate in southern Beaujolais run by Marie and Ludovic Gros. Before setting off on this new adventure, she was a baker and he was a sommelier, and so they not only craft wines in the Beaujolais AOC, but also bake and sell their own artisanal bread.

Fortified Gamay: Volutes

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this bottle, since my uncle didn’t really know what it was, just that it was sweet. Also, the Volutes is labeled as a “spiritueux” (spirit) and contained 18% alc/vol, so my first thought was a Pineau des Charentes type drink, which is made by adding distilled spirits to grape must (ie. unfermented juice).

After contacting the winery, I found out that Burgundy/Beaujolais does have such a product called riquiqui., but it turns out that this bottle is actually a fortified red wine similar to a Banyuls or Porto. The estate first made the experiment in 2003, the year of the heat wave which provided many over-ripe grapes. They were able to repeat the process in 2006 and 2010 by harvesting part of their Gamay 15 to 20 days later and adding a neutral spirit to halt the fermentation at around 40g of residual sugar.

Ripe aromas of dark fruit and griotte cherry reminded me of some of the more exuberant Uruguay wines which I had very much enjoyed in South America, though with noticeably more alcohol. On the palate, soft tannins confirmed this impression, but the sweetness gives the wine a more mellow feel, while the surprisingly racy acidity keeps it composed and relatively fresh on the delicious finish, with lingering pomegranate notes.

I think it is this freshness that sets this Beaujolais apart from the more southern Banyuls or Porto, and I very much enjoyed the wine, though the alcohol can be a bit too present without some food to balance it out.

Ludovic Gros also mentioned that they are currently working on a proper “cooked” wine, which is reduced to only a third of its initial volume and reaches 19.5% alc/vol. Interesting, but probably not for me…

A Natural Saint-Chinian by Thierry Navarre

After a pleasant experience with Domaine Rimbert’s Saint-Chinian, I decided to explore this appellation a bit further with a recommendation by my friend Arnaud of the French la terre vue du vin wine blog.


Thierry Navarre is a biodynamic producer in the  Languedoc‘s Saint-Chinian appellation. This AOC is further divided into two sub-sectors on the northern end, both of which have been recently approved for the CIVL’s upcoming “Grand Cru du Languedoc” label: Berlou  and Roquebrun. While Domaine Rimbert is located in the former, Thierry Navarre makes wine in the latter. Both feature slate soil and the traditional Languedoc grape varieties (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan..)

Domaine Navarre 2007 “les Oliviers”

A Natural Saint-Chinian by Thierry Navarre

A Natural Saint-Chinian by Thierry Navarre

I decanted the wine 3 hours before dinner. At first, this ripe red struck me with its lively acidity and slightly animal aromas. I was hoping this would blow off, and it more or less did, although a noticeable musky note did remain on the finish. I don’t really like the dirty sock analogy, but it did have a bit of that going. The fruit as well as some dark licorice stood out overall however, and it was quite an experience in a powerful, rustic way.

Towards the end of the bottle however, another enticing aroma started to emerge. It brought me back to my childhood, rummaging through the spice cabinet and sniffing from several small tin boxes with Persian motifs, each containing different varieties of dried tea leaves. I’m not sure my family ever even used them, considering that they remained there for decades, but the strong scents definitely had some mystical hold on me as I would keep sneaking in to smell them, and I still remember them to this day. This Saint-Chinian reminded me of some of the darker colored leaves, but I would have no clue as to what they were. I’m just glad the wine brought this memory back!