July 20th-Valdiguie and Negrette

Last week, I escaped the unseasonably cold and gross weather of the Pacific Northwest to explore the area of Paso Robles in central California. The purpose of the trip was to experience more of the region than I had previously, and I definitely managed that! When all was said and done, I had tasted at about 30 wineries! While most of the wines produced in the area are made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Rhone variety grapes such as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Viognier, there were a few random surprises. At Thacher, a small family owned winery in the Adelaida district of western Paso Robles, I found wines created from these two grape varieties. Valdiguié (pronounced val-di-gu-ie), is a red grape that hails from the Languedoc-Roussillon in the South of France but is now primarily grown in California. Until around 1980, it was thought to be Gamay in the Napa region but through genetic testing, it was found to be Valdiguié. It has been illegal to label California wines made with this grape as Gamay since 1999. Negrette is also a red grape, but it originates from South West France near the towns of Albi and Toulouse. Both grapes are used to make easy drinking, lighter red wines. These are a great contrast to the bolder, higher alcohol wines this area is known for. It also provides some fun options when trying to determine what to drink in the hot mediterranean summer weather. 

First, I had the 2021 Valdiguié Nouveau from Thacher. The name was an indicator this wine was made using the same methods as a Beaujoulais Nouveau. Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape so this was a fun nod to the history of Valdiguié. The ruby wine was almost transparent enough to read the cork I had placed under the glass. The viscosity of the legs were consistent with a wine that had an alcohol content on the low end of average. The aromas of wild strawberries, bubble gum, red cherries, cranberry, and cinnamon stick wafted up from the glass. Prior to pouring these wines, I opted to chill them briefly. Chilling lighter red wines is a great way to enjoy them in the warmer months, or even year round. The ideal serving temperature for Beaujolais is around 55℉. The alcohol content on the palate was consistent with the low moderate range. It was dry with light tannins and acid. These components combined to result in a light bodied wine. In addition to the aforementioned aromas, the palate also had a woody note. This is a standard taste in wines made using the winemaking technique utilized with this bottle. The finish dissipated in a minute, not lingering too long. 

Second, I had the 2020 Negrette, also from Thacher. This wine was noticeably darker, fairly opaque at the center of the glass. The legs did not waste time cascading down the sides of the goblet, though they were marginally slower than the last. The nose of this wine had an increased complexity, exhibiting scents of ripe blueberry, vanilla, cranberry, bramble, violets and black raspberries. Negrette was a dry wine with incrementally increased levels of tannin and acid. They also accounted for the body being marginally increased. Slightly under ripe wild blackberries and that same woody character as the previous wine rounded out the palate. While these wines underwent different winemaking methods, they did share the fact that whole grape clusters, stems and grapes, were fermented together. This process introduces the woody note and can add some texture to the wine because the stems do include some tannins that can be extracted during fermentation. The finish on this wine also tapered off not long after leaving the palate. Both of these wines would be perfect served with a charcuterie plate on a warm summer evening. They would also be quite easy to drink if consumed chilled during the peak warmth of the day! 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: