ON A SLOW SUNDAY NIGHT at Virginia’s La Table Provencale restaurant, sommelier Christian Borel unveils a prized bottle of Cuvée des Vignes d’Antan. In a hushed, conspiratorial tone, he calls it a “borderline mythical, quasi black-market wine.” It’s made from outlawed jacquez and herbemont grapes, he explains, and is produced by a coop of rebellious vignerons in the Ardéche region of southern France.
Filled with dark garnet-red liquid, the bottle is sealed with shrink wrap. Its label is stamped with vintage information and a line-drawing of a sultry wine goddess. All in all, it looks indistinguishable from something you’d buy at the supermarket.“This cuvée hails from the tiny, remote village of Beaumont, where it’s been perfected by five generations of local winemakers,” whispers Borel. For the past 84 years, the French government and, most recently, the European Union, has sought to eradicate Beaumont’s grapevines due to their American “blood.” Although the vines are French-American hybrids, they are more than 140 years old. Beaumont’s Association Mémoire de la Vigne makes just 7,000 bottles a year.
Swirled in a glass, the wine offers a floral, fruity aroma of blackberries and what Borel describes as “hues of violet and peony.” Letting it breathe, hints of “vanilla, mild spice, and licorice” emerge. A sip brings thick, pleasantly rounded flavors “backed by firm structure, a finish of supple, smoothed-out tannins …” and a taste that is uncannily “like its bouquet.”
In a word, it’s good
“This wine should be celebrated as others are,” says Hervé Garnier, the 66-year-old Association Mémoire de la Vigne president and founder. Garnier loves Beaumont, which is Continue reading “The Rebellious French Village Making Wine Banned by the E.U”