shipment from Gilles Bonnefoy of "Les Vins de la Madone" in the Côtes du Forez! We sometimes use the word "vibrant' when discussing the fruit and mineral flavors of wines from the Loire Valley and that is certainly the case with "Les Vins de la Madone," from Biodynamic farming on the estate's high-altitude parcels of granit and basalt soils. Gilles' great farming achieves maximum ripeness giving wildly delicious red and black fruits to the wines, combined with a wonderfully refreshing acidity and a unique mineral character - "vibrant" describes them well! Please note: Gilles' wines are very popular in France - the 2020 vintage is already sold out so this will be our only offer until next year. (Wines arrive Tuesday 6/15)
History and Geography: The estate began in 1997 with the rental of a few plots of old vines and has grown to 11 hectares, mostly on and around the volcano de la Madone near Montbrison, entirely certified organic and Biodynamic (Demeter). To situate the domain, we can follow the Loire upstream to Orleans where it makes a broad trun to the south, flowing past Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. At Nevers, the river splits, with the Allier continuing due south and the Loire heading further east before turning south again to Roanne and then Montbrison, with the hills and ancient volcanoes of the Monts du Forez on the west and the Monts du Lyonnais to the east. (Here we are in the Loire Department, officially, which also contains much of the vineyards of Condrieu and northern Saint-Joseph!)
The Terroir: The reds are bottled from different soils on and around the volcano of the Madone, which include "Granit du Forez," "Migmatites de Montbrison" - a granit which contains migmatite with clay and mica, and basalt, a volcanic rock here containing iron and magnesium.
The Grapes: The only red permitted in the AOC Côtes du Forez is the Gamay Noir a Jus Blanc, but Gilles also has old varieties of Gamay such as Gamay de Bouze, Gamay de Chaudenay and Gamaret. The whites are from Roussanne (50% is massale selection from Quenard in Savoie), and from Sauvignon Gris and Sauvignon blanc.
The Cellar: The grapes are harvested by hand into small crates, with very low yields, and are destemmed or fermented whole-cluster depending on the cuvee. No SO2 is added and fermentations are with native yeasts, aging is usually in cuve inox with a small addition of SO2 before bottling.