Valdiguie is back baby (and its going to make you a cooler wine drinker)
Light bodied red wines do not get enough respect. Did you know that there is a big, beautiful world of light bodied red wines outside of Pinot Noir? Everybody seems to get stuck on Pinot and then chases that rush like an addict. Of course I love a great Pinot Noir, even a good Pinot Noir, but there are a lot more wines out there that will make you swoon with every drink. Then you come across a light bodied red wine like Valdiguie, and everything just changes. You've never heard of it, buts its always been around.
Yes it is, Valdiguie is back baby!
Like a vintage record player and some long forgotten Joy Division LPs, Valdiguie is back. How could it be back if you have never heard of it? Well, rather unfortunately, Valdiguie was mistakenly named as Napa Gamay. It was thought to be a clone of Gamay, but some genetic testing proved that California winemakers were duped. Under the guise of Napa Gamay, Valdiguie was all the rage in the 1980s, but it fell out of favor later on. As we stopped drinking it, vineyards started growing it, and in 2007 when the US government finally banned the use of the name Napa Gamay the final nail in the coffin was sealed.
Then along comes our generation. The generation with a knack for the obscure, an appreciation for the lost, and a desire to unearth the cool. Winemakers ran through California vineyards like we would rummage through an antique store, uncovering that $4 SNES that barely works, taking it home, dusting it off and putting it on our wine crate coffee table with midcentury designed legs. Valdiguie, it turns out, is a rare find that would put Macklemore to shame.
The wine that will make you instantly cooler
From the first sip of Valdiguie I felt instantly cooler. I felt hip, I felt like I knew something my friends did not. It was a little pretentious, but in a good way. You feel like you are the first person to find this really cool band in the basement of the hottest music venue. Its small, cramped, and you can smell the drugs and booze on the shirt of the lead singer. Its intimate, and you feel like you have to be the messenger to the rest of the world. All of a sudden nothing else is cool, just this, and others cannot possibly be cool if they are not in the know. That is Valdiguie.
And yet there is so much more to this delicate, light wine. There is an elevated level of sophistication and elegance. Less jeans and t-shirt, more vest and bow tie but still rocking the beard and the sleeves rolled up to reveal soul bearing tattoos. It was the kind of person you thought died out decades ago and yet their keen sense of style fostered their move away from what was grunge and grime and towards well kept, put together, tailored expressions of ruggedness. The ability to be both tough and serious, and yet maintain a sensitive, romantic persona are found in ample amounts in these wines.
I have become the wine man if 2018
Valdiguie, with its vibrant aroma, and lush flavors of cranberries and sour cherries, made me the ideal of the wine snob in 2018, but not in a bad way. Hints of Paul Giammatti and Frasier Crane remain, but my tastes, my desires, my pursuits are so much more obscure. I seek not the attention of the masses, and have no grand designs on becoming "Cork Master" (sing it with me now...hail cork master, the master of the cork, he knows which wine goes with fish or pork!) Its an expression of cool, of the self, and the ability to share and introduce my friends to something they would otherwise have overlooked. All of a sudden you are the friend who does not know a lot about wine, the geek who seems insufferable when they go on about the climate in Napa that year being perfect for Chardonnay, but the friend who knows whats up, whats cool, and what people will love. Valdiguie will do that to you.
Thirsty? I'll bet you are.
Have a go at the wine that inspired all this, that transformative wine that will make you awesome from the first sip, and become the person who knows whats up with wine. I was drinking Broc Cellars' 2016 Valdiguie. Its unfortunately sold out online, so we may have to wait until the 2017 vintage to get our hands on some more.
Cruse Wine Co also has a couple of Valdiguie wines available, but they are for sale by allocation early. So sign up!