The beautiful Roussanne from Gilles Bonnefoy is from 18 year-old vines (partly massale selection from Quenard in Savoie) grown on the steep south face of the volcano of Purchon. Bonnefoy farms these young vines carefully, keeping yields very low to promote concentration and harvesting late (Roussanne takes a long time to ripen fully) ad by hand. Native yeast fermentation takes place in used barrels; the wine ages in the same. In the glass, the Roussanne is pale and shows a very expressive nose of white flowers, green herbs, and a touch of orchard fruits. Given the freshness of the nose, the palate is surprisingly and lusciously dense and complex, with pear, peach, and apple as well as long and broad minerality. A great expression of Roussanne on unique Volcanic terroir. Only 3000 bottles produced. Ben Fletcher
2019 Gilles Bonnefoy Vigneron “Roussanne de Madone” Vignes sur Volcan Urfe
Blend: 100% Roussanne
From IGP Urfe (Lower Loire Valley), France
The Massif Central used to be a much more important wine producing region of France which almost disappeared. The catalyst was phylloxera which struck here as it did everywhere but there were fewer incentives to restart growing. Moreover war and the growth of industry in cities like Saint Etienne put a drain on the workforce.
Rebuilding has been very gradual but it is there. The Forez region is somewhat closed and mountainous. Forestry is important as is beef cattle, and Fourme d'Ambert is one of the local cheeses. Vines are planted on soils that are of granite or basalt and most is red from the gamay grape.
Most producers are smallholders and deliver grapes to the co-op. Gilles Bonnefoy is one of a few who bottles his own wine and does so from vines that are farmed sustainably without herbicides or pesticides. He also produces some whites which are sold as IGP Urfé (since Gamay (and thus, only red wines) are allowed in the AOC Cotes du Forez.
Pairing: Pair with cheeses like Raclette, Pave Affinois, Gouda, Bucheron, and cream cheeses. This wine also does well with pate, roasted chicken, pork, veal (if you can find a good cut), cream sauces, and spicy flavors (curries!).
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