Auvergne – tasting notes

Tasting notes on 41 wines from the dynamic but little-known Auvergne wine region in central France.

For the background to the region and its distinctive soils and topography, see Auvergne – quiet volcanoes and lively wines. My photo shows a vineyard in Boudes, the southernmost subregion in the Côtes d'Auvergne appellation, named after the village in the picture.

The wines are grouped by producer, in alphabetical order by (sur)name, whites before rosés before reds within each group.

Domaine Vincent Auzolle

Vincent Auzolle, Domaine de Tracol 2017 Vin de Pays du Puy de Dôme

Chardonnay on clay-limestone, from the commune of Cébazat. Fermented in barriques and aged in the same, with one year on lees. Full malo.
Creamy and obviously oaked on the nose, rich but beautifully fresh. Clean, sharp edges with a rounded, broad heart. This is not the skinny modern style of Chardonnay, neither is it fat or overoaked. Extremely well made in this style. Long, too. (JH)

14%
Drink
2020
2025
17

Vincent Auzolle 2018 Côtes d'Auvergne

100% Gamay on basalt. Nine months in tank.
Lightish cherry red. Here’s that lovely dusty dark-red fruit. Light, scented on the palate. Delicate, light on its feet. Dusty/peppery. Juicy and mouth-watering. Long, too, and a touch salty. (JH)

12.5%
Drink
2020
2022
16.5

Vincent Auzolle 2017 Côtes d’Auvergne, Chanturgue

100% Gamay on clay-limestone. Nine months in tank.
Darker hue than his 2018 Côtes d'Auvergne but still translucent. Smells both sweeter and darker-fruited than the straight Côtes d’Auvergne. And then opens up to a lovely peppery vitality. Notably salty on the palate and the tannins a little more silky than in the straight Côte d’Auvergne 2018 but with the saltiness adding grip. Almost too salty – I’d need to keep drinking water with this. Dramatic, with deep fruit at the core. Still very very youthful. Full of energy. (JH)

13%
Drink
2020
2024
17

Vincent Auzolle, Le Clos des Amoureux 2017 Côtes d’Auvergne, Chanturgue

70% Gamay, 30% Pinot Noir, unoaked – nine months in tank.
Deep garnet. Dark and peppery on the nose. Tight, almost severe on the palate but at the same time it is scented and full of pure fruit. The saltiness makes it more savoury. Clean, straight lines and good length. Delicate but persistent. Mouth-watering length. (JH)

14%
Drink
2020
2023
17

Clos Luern

Clos Luern, Cuvée L 2018 IGP Puy-de-Dôme

100% Gamay. Clay-limestone soils with large basalt inclusions (pépérites). Minimum 50-year-old vines, dense planting at 10,000 plants/hectare. Fermented in open vats with pre-fermentation cold maceration. Matured in 250-litre polymer (hermetic) egg-shaped tank for eight months.
Mid to dark greyish crimson. Attractive and slightly reductive smoky nose. Gorgeous dark-red fruit. Spicy and peppery – but all from the fruit – smells a little like northern Rhône Syrah when the new bottle is opened. The reductive style seems to highlight the pepper. Stony and pure. Fresh and long with a stony finish and light yet defined tannins. Linear but not monosyllabic. (JH)

12.8%
Drink
2020
2022
16.5

Clos Luern, Tigerno 2018 IGP Puy-de-Dôme

Tigerno means ‘boss’ in Auvergne dialect. Prephylloxera 127-year-old Gamay d’Auvergne vines on clay-limestone soils with a high limestone and basalt content. Dense planting at 10,000 plants/hectare. Vinification with ambient yeasts in open vats and 50% destemmed on average, with pre-fermentation cold maceration. Maturation: eight months in 160-litre ovoid terracotta amphorae. No press wine included.
Deep cherry red. As in the Cuvée L, there is a definite spicy character, even more so, and the fruit is darker and more intense. More savoury too with a rocky finesse. Nicely dry and super-fine tannins add to the freshness. Deep fruited yet with real tension. The finish is almost salty/sour but somehow darkly floral too. Deliciously dry on the long, fresh finish. (JH)

 

13.8%
Drink
2020
2025
17.5

Domaine de la Croix Arpin / Pierre Goigoux

Dom de la Croix Arpin, Les Amandiers 2018 Côtes d'Auvergne

Chardonnay on clay-limestone with volcanic scree. Aged in concrete and inox.
Limey citrus with a hint of flint/smoke. Really fresh and tight, mouth-watering but with lots of pure fruit to balance. Stony, dry fine texture. Cool and long. A wine of origin not of fruit though there is no lack of that. (JH) 

13%
Drink
2020
2022
16.5

Dom de la Croix Arpin, Les Amandiers 2018 Côtes d’Auvergne, Châteaugay

40- to 50-year-old Gamay d’Auvergne (mass selection) and some younger vines, on clay-limestone with basalt pépérites. No malo, no oak. Fermented in steel tanks and concrete.
Deep cherry red. Cherry fruited too. Ripe but fresh. Dark fruited but delicate even though there is clear ripeness here. Savoury, fine, dry stony texture. A bit salty on the finish. Chalky texture, real finesse. (JH)

 

13%
Drink
2020
2022
16.5

Dom de la Croix Arpin, Cerise sur le Gâteau 2018 IGP Puy-de-Dôme

The name means ‘cherry on the cake’. 100% Pinot Noir on clay-limestone soil and basalt pépérites. Terra Vitis certified. Long fermentation, light punching down at the end of alcoholic fermentation.
Juicy, red-fruited. Pretty and lightly floral. Super-elegant and refined in texture, with the dry chalky tannins of the region and perfect balance between fruit and freshness. Really juicy and long. (JH)

13%
Drink
2020
2024
17

Pierre Goigoux, Le Damas Noir 2018 IGP Puy-de-Dôme

Terra Vitis certification. This is a very old clone of Syrah, also called Petite Syrah Auvergnate. It had almost disappeared from the Auvergne 100 years ago but has been rescued from old vineyards and replanted in 2011 by Pierry Goigoux of Domaine de la Croix Arpin in Châteaugay. 15 years of research, vines selected from old vineyards, propagated and grafted, giving the first vintage in 2013.
Deep purplish crimson. Has the peppery smokiness of some northern Rhône Syrahs but also a definite floral note, more peony than violets. Perhaps very slightly reductive to reinforce that pepperiness? On the palate, this has mouth-wateringly high acidity and very supple tannins but also a gentle chalkiness in the mouth to balance the quite tart black fruit. It is very fresh and lively, with a peppery mineral dry finish that takes you back to the initial aroma. Not dense – and no reason why it has to be – and full of vibrant flavours. Not complex (maybe it will become more so with age) yet pure and full of energy. (JH)

12%
Drink
2020
2024
16.5

Desprat St-Verny

Desprat St-Verny, 809 Chardonnay 2019 Côtes d'Auvergne

809 is the clone, which is Chardonnay Musqué. Clay-limestone soils. Unoaked.
The fragrance is more Pinot Blanc than Chardonnay. On the palate, too. There’s apple and melon but also a hint of blossom. Creamy texture, gentle but beautifully fresh and surprisingly intense. (JH)

14%
Drink
2020
2022
16

Desprat St-Verny, La Légendaire 2017 Côtes d'Auvergne

Chardonnay on clay-limestone, best parcels. Aged 12 months in oak and then six months in a mountain shelter at 1,200 metres in the Cantal region to speed up the ‘rounding’ process, I am told.
Ripe honeyed citrus on the nose. Really creamy. The oak is better integrated than I expected and shows mostly in spice and creamy texture. It’s harmonious if not as complex as a barrel-fermented wine might be. A little bit nutty. And then the oak just sticks out slightly on the finish. Rounded and creamy. (JH)

Drink
2021
2024
16

Desprat St-Verny, Rosé 2018 Côtes d'Auvergne, Corent

70% Gamay, 30% Pinot Noir. Mainly on basalt and pozzolan. Vinified in stainless steel.
Pale and with more orange colour than some rosés. Smoky nose. A touch reductive though the overall effect is really mineral. Bone dry, with a very slight grip. There’s intensity without great depth of fruit and a concentration that is all in the length. Precise and smoky with no sweetness at all, just a dry, mouth-watering finish. (JH)

Drink
2020
2022
16.5

Desprat St-Verny, Basalte 2017 Côtes d'Auvergne

100-year-old Gamay on hard basalt slopes in Gergovie. 12–15 months in oak.
Deep cherry red. Oak aroma is very sweet – is there some American oak here? Juicy and sweet red fruit and a hint of the dry volcanic texture but the oak sweetness is a little too much when combined with the fruit sweetness. Deep-fruited and generous. Some grip at the very end but rounded. (JH)

13.5%
Drink
2019
2023
16

Desprat St-Verny, L’Impromptu 2018 Côtes d'Auvergne

Unoaked, 100% old-vine Gamay on hard basalt at 348 m. 18- to 20-day maceration and nine months in tank.
Deep crimson. Unexpectedly floral note. So pretty and at the same time has great fruit – dark, lightly spicy/peppery and so juicy. Super-silky and moreish. Smooth fluid texture. The fruit is concentrated on the palate. Deep and packed with that fruit. At first I thought this was less obviously volcanic than some but coming back to it there is a lovely chalky freshness on the nose. Long fruity finish balanced by the light chalky tannins. (JH) 

14%
Drink
2020
2022
16.5

Desprat St-Verny, Le Pinot Noir 2018 IGP Puy-de-Dôme

Lightish cherry red. Pretty and peppery on the nose, dusty and stony too in an attractive complement to the sweetness of fruit. Quite sinewy and almost austere on the palate, but just on the right side of stony/mineral. Impressive length and a lightly savoury aftertaste. Chalky sour-cherry finish. Very distinctive and still very Pinot. (JH)

14%
Drink
2020
2024
16.5

Jean-Baptiste Gougis

Jean-Baptiste Gougis, Noces Volcaniques 2018 Vin de France

Chardonnay, from the Auvergne. 75% basalt soils; 25% clay-limestone soils. Fermentation in barrels a few years old so as not to mask the terroir; matured for 10 to 12 months with bâtonnage. Unfined and unfiltered.
Inviting smoky aroma, both stony and lightly oaked. Creamy and ripe-fruited with excellent freshness. Ripe, sour-citrus fruit. Rounded texture.

13%
Drink
2020
2024
16.5

Jean-Baptiste Gougis, Puy de Joie 2018 Vin de France

From the Auvergne. 80% Gamay d’Auvergne and 20% Pinot Noir. 100% basalt soil. Vinification: three-week maceration in open vats, with punching down and pumping over; matured for 10 to 12 months in barrels a few years old. Unfined and unfiltered.
Dark crimson, meaty (but not bretty), savoury aroma. Deep and characterful. The mineral character here comes from the tannin texture, which is verging on chalky – firm and compact but powder-fine. Notable freshness. (JH)

Drink
2020
2028
17
...

Vines sloping down to the village of Boudes