Division-Villages 'Les Petits Fers' Oregon Gamay Noir 2014
Wine: Division-Villages 'Les Petits Fers'
Region: Umpqua Valley & Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon
Gamay noir, known simply as gamay to its closest friends, is best known for its role in Beaujolais, France, though there are some plantings in the Loire Valley and increasingly in the US. Tom Monroe and Kate Norris of Division-Villages and Division Winemaking Company are making excellent and interesting Burgundian varietal wines in their Portland, Oregon urban winery, like the Méthode Carbonique Pinot Noir 2015 I wrote about last month. One of my many wine goals is to taste everything they make and the 'Les Petits Fers' Gamay Noir 2015 happened to be next in line, purchased from Keife & Co.
The nickname "Les Petits Fers" means "little irons" and is a respectful nod to their friends Veronique and Christian Bernard of Domaine des Grands Fers, which means "great irons", in the Grand Cru village of Fleurie in Beaujolais. I was half through the bottle when I realized the connection, sending me into a reverie about a lunch with Veronique and Christian in a restaurant in Fleurie several years ago. This was possibly the only time I've witnessed someone actually smoking while eating. Veronique held a cigarette in one hand and a fork in the other and the cigarette, as soon as it was extinguished, was followed by another. They ordered for my two traveling companions and me, and one of the dishes arrived without explanation. They wanted us to try it before we had a chance to reject it. The flavor was excellent. Heavy garlic and butter dripped from tender white meat with thin black veins like a map and tiny bones. Lots of tiny bones, which I carefully removed from each bite until suddenly I could see the shape of a legless frog. It was frog! And it was delicious, like garlic-bathed chicken with subtle brackish notes. Later that night Christian and another winemaker-negociant took us to a night club. The rest, as the cliché goes, stays in France.
The Division-Villages 'Les Petits Fers' Gamay Noir 2014 is a delicious, buoyant quaff of cherry and strawberry notes, light body and great acidity. If it's meant to echo easy drinking Beaujolais Villages table wines, it's succeeding and then some. Beautifully balanced, easily paired to food and people. Like the pinot noir previously featured on P&V, it undergoes at least partial carbonic maceration if not full. Notes for the 2015 say that vintage was made 25% by partial carbonic, 50% full carbonic and 25% traditional fermentation. I couldn't find specifics for the 2014 but I'm expecting to see the new vintage on shelves before too long. If you see it before I do, grab a bottle and shoot me a note. I'm confident it's going to be delectable.
*Read more about gamay and how other winemakers are making it sing in earlier Pig&Vine posts.