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This FREE Wine Education Course Includes: Why Wine? | Wine & Health | Social History | Sensory User's Manual | Grape Growing | Wine Making | Varietal Profiles | Sparkling Wine Wine Information on Reading Labels, Selecting and Buying Wine, Serving and Storing, etc. Taste includes the compiled wine tasting notes from our monthly panel, as well as reports on public tasting events, wherever we attend them, and notices of recurring wine events in Central California. There is also a Food & Wine section with a few wine-friendly recipes. In Aftertaste, see if you agree with our opinions and editorials in Wrath, find our Reading List and pages of Links in Bacchanalia, to discover additional sources of wine information. Contact and sponsor information, short bios of the PfW tasting panel and the stories of PfW's formation and the web site genesis. Return to the starting point.



Although conflicting claims cloud its true origin, valdiguié was first commercially propagated in 1884. Praised and prized in the for both its high productivity and natural resistance to powdery mildew (oïdium), vine growers planted it widely throughout Southwestern France. Known there also as gros auxerrois, valdiguié is now considered to produce low-quality wine and, except in Languedoc-Roussillon and parts of the Loire, has almost completely been replaced by varieties with better reputations.

In 1974, over 4,760 acres of California vineyards were planted with a grape variously and controversially identified as "Gamay" or "Gamay Beaujolais"1 or "Napa Gamay" or "Monterey Gamay". Opinions differed between vineyard owners, nurserymen, and viticulturists as to the true identity of this grape cultivar; some thought it to be simply a darker-skinned, lighter-flavored clone of pinot noir, others identified it as valdiguié.

Pierre Galet, famed in France for his work in ampelography, visited the Golden State in 1980 and 1982 and proclaimed the variety to be valdiguié, which was later confirmed by DNA analysis. Whether the deciding factor was the identity crisis or the American tendency to stumble over French nomenclature of more than two syllables, by 1997, less than 1,200 vineyard acres remained planted in California.

The TTB allowed producers that have been using these other names, in some cases for decades, to continue mis-labeling (libeling?) their wines until April, 2007.2

Using techniques and procedures intended to accentuate fruitiness, such as cold soaking, whole cluster fermentation, and carbonic maceration, some California wineries have had success making Valdiguié. These West Coast versions tend to be charming, easy-drinking, abundantly fruity, and low in tannin, with a soft mouthfeel and a slightly tart finish.

*Typical Valdiguié Smell and/or Flavor Descriptors
*Typicity depends upon individual tasting ability and experience and is also affected by terroir and seasonal conditions, as well as viticultural and enological techniques, so this list is neither comprehensive nor exclusive, merely suggestive.

Varietal Aromas/Flavors:

Processing Bouquets/Flavors:

Fruit: raspberry, strawberry, cherry

Carbonic Maceration: banana, bubblegum, cotton candy (spun sugar)

Floral: violet, rose petal

Oak (light): (atypical) vanilla, coconut, sweet wood


Oak (heavy): (atypical) oak, smoke, toast, tar


Bottle Age: (atypical) stale, pruney


by Jim LaMar

1. There is no grape variety called "Gamay Beaujolais" or "Beaujolais". The grape variety that is predominantly planted in the Beaujolais appellation of France is called Gamay Noir. RETURN

2. Wineries that have historically been labeling their wines wrong, with no intent to deceive, are often allowed by the regulating agencies to "Grandfather" around new legal provisions that prevent other brands from repeating these errors. MORE RETURN

1. Jancis Robinson (ed), Oxford Companion to Wine, 3rd Edition, (Oxford University Press: London) 2006

2. L. Peter Christensen, Nick K. Dokoozlian, M. Andrew Walker, James A Wolpert, et all. Wine Grape Varieties in California (University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources Publications: Oakland) 2003

3. Charles Sullivan, A Companion to California Wine: An Encyclopedia of Wine and Winemaking from the Mission Period to the Present (University of California Press: Berkeley) 1998

4. Doris Muscatine, Maynard A. Amerine, Bob Thompson (ed), The University of California/Sotheby Book of California Wine, (University of California Press: Berkeley) 1984

5. Gerald Asher, Vineyard Tales - Reflections on Wine, (Chronicle Books: San Francisco) 1996

6. Jancis Robinson (ed), Jancis Robinson's Guide to Wine Grapes, (Oxford University Press: New York) 1996

7. Steven Spurrier & Michel Dovaz, Academie du Vin, Complete Wine Course (G.P. Putnam & Sons, New York) 1983

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Page created October 5, 2001; last updated July 1, 2015
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