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The Auvergne region is one of the oldest wine growing areas of France

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The Auvergne region is in the middle of France, surrounded by extinct volcanoes. It is one of the oldest wine growing areas of France but the wines are little known outside the region. The climate produces light, fresh and fruity wines, with the reds dominated by the Gamay grape.To the outside world this region is best known for Michelin car tires, Volvic water and Saint-Nectaire cheese, with the city at the centre of the region being Clermont-Ferrand.

This wine subregion of the Loire Valley, is notable for the soil which is “limestone-clay from the Pliocene or Oligocene eras, mixed with volcanic debris,” according to Loire Valley Wines. Extending over 53 villages, Côtes d’Auvergne produces red, white and rosé wines from chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well

Winemaking going back to the 5th century, these wines were famous with the local nobility when ports along the Allier River made shipment possible. Phylloxera, the two great wars created a depression in wine production, but further investment from young winemakers with attention to quality earned Côtes d’Auvergne Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) designation in 2011. Five sub-appellations include Madargues, Chateaugay, Chanturgue, Corent and Boudes.

Saint Verny Vignobles

Saint Verny Vignobles includes 65 winemakers on a mosaic of 170 ha of vines located on the best Puy de Dôme terroirs. This is a vineyard that is unique in all the world, with volcanic soil.

Founded in 1950, this co-operative is named after Saint-Verny, a popular figure in Auvergne who was canonised in the 15th century, and is the patron saint of winemakers.This is the sole co-op in the Puy-de-Dôme département and the wines always offer excellent value for money.

The vines of the coop are on the region’s sunny slopes of mineral-rich, volcanic, basalt soils. Hills protect the vines from the wind, as well as keeping rainfall to a minimum, and dry, sunny summers provide a long ripening season.

There are 170 hectares of vines in total – almost half of the total vineyard area in the département – but these are managed by the co-op’s members, most of whom are only responsible for a couple of hectares of vines. This means the majority of grapes are still hand harvested, which keeps quality levels high. At 75 hectares, Gamay makes up the majority of plantings followed by 59 hectares of Pinot Noir, 32 hectares of Chardonnay, 3 hectares of Syrah and a tiny 1 hectare of Pinot Gris.

Saint-Verny l’Impromptu 2016 – SAQ # 13343264 $20.85

This wine is born from old Gamay vines that grow at 348 altitude meters. It spent 9 months in stainless steel and easily can be aged for another 5 years. In my opinion, it is the best vintage so far made of this lovely gamay. It just arrived at the SAQ and you should get as many bottles as you can.

A terrific nose with fragrant liquorice and raspberry aromas laced with strawberry and black peppercorns. Juicy and fleshy with a beautiful acidity and caressing tannins. Pairs it well with shepherd pie or grilled meats.

Marco Giovanetti – info@mtltimes.ca

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