Gamay, “Les Autrichiens”, Vin de France Rouge
Xavier farms a parcel of massale-selection Gamay in Givors (in the Auvergne) planted in 1980 by his grandfather Pierre, and he produces a mere 2,000 bottles per vintage from this 0.35-hectare plot. Situated at 350 meters altitude, these pudding-stone-littered soils of reddish-brown clay (similar to those found in Crozes-Hermitage) render a wine of notable concentration and structure—a definitively Rhône version of the variety. Xavier employs one-third whole clusters in the vinification here, aging the wine in neutral 600-liter barrels of at least ten years of age and bottling it just prior to the following harvest. The name “Les Autrichiens” (“the Austrians”) is a historical reference: the hill upon which the vines are planted—part of Xavier’s grandfather’s farm—is also a burial site for a few Austrian soldiers who perished there during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.