Auvergne landscape

A small offering of Auvergne wines from Jean Maupertuis and Marie & Vincent Tricot!

Share

Over the years, the natural wine world has been developing a thirst for wines from the Auvergne, a rural region nestled in the center of France, with Clermont-Ferrand as its major city. The area is known to most French people as a great region for camping, and cheese. Indeed, the mountain ranges, and over 300 dormant Volcanos provide the setting for plenty a scenic vista, and the cheese production from the Auvergne accounts for over 1/4 of France's entire output. However, if you ask an avid Parisian natural wine fan about the Auvergne, camping and cheese will be afterthoughts to the singular wines from the area. The soils are a patchwork of granite, limestone, sand, basalt (sandstone) of several colors - including the rare pink basalt - volcanic rocks, and some clay. This already lays the groundwork for some very special flavor profiles, with the operative word being "Volcanic." On top of this, there is the region's special Gamay D'Auvergne, which is distinct from other types of Gamay found in Beaujolais or the Loire Valley, for example. Gamay D'Auvergne is known to yield darker and spicier wines than its cousins, Gamay de Bouze or Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc (the Beaujolais Gamay). Jean Maupertius, the indisputable pioneer of natural wines in the Auvergne, said in an interview with Jules Dressner, "it's important to point out that we have a different Gamay from the ones you'll find in the Loire or Beaujolais; it's more rustic and and late blooming, with a noticeable peppery spice quality." Though there used to be hundreds of Gamays in France, according to Julien Guillot from Vignes du Mayne in the Maconnais, now there are less than 10, with Gamay D'Auvergne and Gamay Tinturier perhaps being the rarest.

The Auvergne was historically a large wine producing region in France before Phylloxera decimated the vineyards of Europe. It was at one point the third largest wine producing region in France, with the Allier river serving as a route north to Paris. With the advent of railroads, which became the preferred method of transporting wine, production started to curb, replaced by wines from Provence and other up and coming regions. After the First World War, many yougner people moved to industrial hubs, and north to Paris, leaving behind family vineyards and farms. The Michelin company also contributed to the downturn in wine production, as their factory and headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand pulled many agricultural workers from their family plots and into industrial work. Jumping to the late 90s and early 2000s, we begin to see a very quiet and slow appearance of small estates, with two legendary domaines setting the stage for the slew of young vignerons whose wines are now all the rage in Paris. Jean Maupertuis, and Marie and Vincent Tricot are the names to know.

Jean Maupertuis (photo: Artisan Cellars)

Both producers have been mentors to many young winemakers in the region, and their wines are a must try for fans and Auvergne-curious wine drinkers. It seems clear that there isn't a producer of natural wines in the Auvergne who hasn't worked with or been influenced by these estates. Both Jean Maupertuis and the Tricots were inspired by the "first generation" of natural winemakers, most notably Marcel Lapierre, Jean-Francois Ganevat, and the like. The approach of working with little or no SO2 and fermenting only with indigenous yeast was clearly paramount. The step of looking for vines and settling down in the Auvergne is perhaps the questionable one, as the area was generally unknown as a wine-making region, even to French natives. Questionable as it was, we are all very grateful now, as the unique soils provide for some of the most distinct wines of the country.

Marie & Vincent Tricot (Photo: Zev Rovine Selections)

As many of us wine nerds already know, Auvergne wine production is minimal at best. Wines from Patrick Bouju (La Boheme), Aurelien Lefort, Pierre Beauger, Vincent Marie (No Control) and our eccentric, now-retired friend, Fred Gounan (L'Arbre Blanc) are extremely hard to come by, and are often completely unavailable in the US. When I visited Patrick Bouju in 2018, he had from one vintage only two large (500L) barrels of wine from his Auvergne parcels. This was not an exception, but rather the rule here. Many winemakers in the area, like Bouju, have resorted to working with fruit from other regions, making "negoce wines," as they are called, but Maupertuis and Tricot do not partake in this activity. Their wines are always from estate fruit.* With this in mind, and without being pushy, we'd recommend grabbing some bottles of this authentic Auvergne wines now while you have the chance. Aside from a natural wine bar in Paris or a local bistro around Clermont-Ferrand, this is one of the only chances we'll get this year to sample the magic!

*No judgment here, both Maupertuis and the Tricots have been making wine for longer and tend more acres, so have less financial pressure or need to produce wines by any means necessary. That we know, and it may be the case that either or both of these producers don't like to work with fruit they don't farm, which many vignerons (a French term for a person who is occupied year round with grape-growing and winemaking) will state as their reason for not making negoce wines.

Jean Maupertuis 2022 Vin de France Gris Clair

Something between a Blanc de Noirs and a direct press Rose, we have very little info about this wine, but it's made from Gamay D'Auvergne and is NOT an orange wine.

  • rosé
  • 8 in stock
  • $25.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Jean Maupertuis 2022 Vin de France Lave Gris Rosé

This is a Rose of Gamay D'Auvergne, sourced from Maupertuis' highest altitude parcel, planted on ancient lava flow. A classic, direct press rose.

  • rosé
  • 1 in stock
  • $28.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Jean Maupertuis 2022 VDF (Auvergne) Blanc Puy Long

Puy Long is Chardonnay from granite and limestone soils. Direct press, with fermentation and aging in barrel on the lees. From my experience with the wine, it has potential for aging, and should be given a year in bottle after release, if at all possible. Stone fruit prevails, with medium weight and subtle mineral edge. Acidity is balanced, but by no means high, which makes it a prime candidate for meals with rich sauces or spice

  • white
  • 7 in stock
  • $30.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Marie et Vincent Tricot 2022 VDF (Auvergne) Rasséréné

This is a Chardonnay that Marie and Vincent Tricot started producing about 4 or 5 years ago. The style is typically on the richer side, but given the overall freshness and balance of the 2022 vintage, it should be a nice play of acidity/mineral depth and subtle density.

  • white
  • 4 in stock
  • $48.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur
Sorry, the Following have Already Sold

Jean Maupertuis 2022 VDF (Auvergne) Pierres Noires

Les Pierre Noires is named after the dark stones found mixed into the soil of this vineyard, which sits at the foot of a volcano. The vines here are 80-100 years old. 90% Gamay/10% Noirfleurien (a rare local grape variety). Half of the grapes are destemmed, wine undergoes partial semi-carbonic maceration, and is aged in old barrels. All the character of Gamay D'Auvergne is here, along with the nuance from Basalt-rich volcanic soils.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $30.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Jean Maupertuis 2022 VDF (Auvergne) La Plage

La Plage is named for the sandy soils of this vineyard. Unlike other cuvées, this sand and limestone site produces fresh, light wines without the marked minerality and volcanic influence of the basalt and volcanic rocks found in other sites. The Gamay vines planted here, all around 30-40 years old, are the more common "Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc," otherwise known as Beaujolais Gamay. This has always been a lovely, fresh Gamay that is typically ready to drink young.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $30.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Jean Maupertuis 2022 VDF (Auvergne) Neyrou

Neyrou (the local name for Pinot Noir) is a bottling of Pinot Noir from a site that ranges from sand to clay sub-soil. Always a lovely expression and quite distinct from Bourgogne Pinot Noirs or Pinots from the Loire et Cher. Yields from this site are very low, usually around 10hl/ht, which is certainly very low, but on the bright side, contributes to ideal concentration of fruit. An impressive Pinot Noir with darker, deep character, more black cherry and dark berries, with flavors of earth and spice.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $30.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Tricot 2022 VDF (Auvergne) Petit Rouge de la Cote Ouest

From a half hectare site with the most volcanic material of the Tricots parcels, this is 100% Gamay d'Auvergne.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $42.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur