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|Organically Grown, Low-Intervention/Natural Wine
Here’s a new and notable producer to put on your radar. Known for having a soft spot for Beaujolais, Valentine and Stéphane Mathieu founded Domaine Valma in 2021, after having spent most of their professional lives in wine sales and marketing. Valentine was the one to pursue the production side of things, going back to school for agricultural studies before interning with Alexandre Chartogne-Taillet at Champagne Chartogne-Taillet and then with the Geoffray family of Château Thivin in the southern Beaujolais Cru of Mont Brouilly. Stéphane, meanwhile, adapted his old career to his new one, taking care of all the other moving pieces that come with managing and marketing a startup operation. Working organically with 5.5 purchased hectares in Les Labourons—a small, higher altitude enclave of vineyards and forest land on the northwestern fringe of the Fleurie AOC—they farm “intuitively,” looking to local flora and grasses for clues on the overall health of the vineyard, with an ultimate goal “to better understand and respect the natural environment [and] support the vines by creating the conditions they need to thrive,” according to one of their US distributors. In the cellar, they use indigenous yeasts, eschew fining and filtering, and add just a bare minimum of sulfur at bottling. The resulting wines are startlingly good. This one, made from a melange of gamay plantings that date to 1951, 2008 and 2016, saw 10 days of ambient yeast fermentation, semi-carbonic maceration in concrete tanks, and two pumpovers per day. It’s a pretty Fleurie of elegance and finesse, showcasing floral and cedar aromas that spill into a palate of crushed violets, brambly fruit and everlasting gobstoppers. Organically grown, low intervention/natural wine.