j-lohr-estates-wildflower-valdiguieHere’s a light and lovely red that has all the charm of a Beaujolais but is made right here in California.

I admit that I knew nothing about this grape variety, which is also known as Napa Gamay or Napa Gamay 15. At its point of origin in the Longueduc-Rousillon region of southern France, it is also known as Gros Auxerrois.

According to winegeeks.com, “Valdiguié is just one of many grapes that were once famous in France due in part to their high productivity. Today the Valdiguié has become an extreme rarity, and can be found more often in California than it can in its native home of southern France. During the 1800s the Valdiguié enjoyed great success as a varietal that had a high yield, ripened reliably, and contributed some fruit and modest acidity to the blends of the Midi, Languedoc-Rousillon and what is now the Vin de Pays.”

Steve Peck, red wine maker at J. Lohr in Paso Robles, has made his 2015 Wildflower Valdiguié into what is arguably one of the best local reds that it’s been my pleasure to sample. The 2015 Wildflower Valdiguié has pronounced black cherry and black pepper on both palate and nose with a sweet-yet-astringent hint of pomegranate to charm and delight your taste buds, not to mention your wallet!

Given its rarity, I expected a “rare” price to be attached…imagine my surprise when I learned that the bottle comes in at TEN DOLLARS!

According to Steve, the Valdiguié came about as a happy accident: “I’ve been refining our approach to this wine for the last three or four years, focusing on using different press fractions in the final wine, the use of non-Saccharomyces yeasts, and tinkering with getting just the right combination of traditional fermentation and carbonic maceration.”

In 2015 the carbonic tank underwent a spontaneous malolactic fermentation, adding the ripe, rich, juicy, sprightly characteristics that, as Steve puts it, “When we tasted the wine, it rocked!”

2014 J. Lohr Estates Wildflower Valdiguié


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