Small Farmers, Big Feelings

July 11, 2019

It’s no secret that the restaurant and fine dining world has fallen in love with Beaujolais. We’re aware now that it’s not the mass-produced Beaujolais Nouveau you choke down once a year at Thanksgiving—we’ve tasted enough good Beaujolais to understand its merits as one of the most flexible food-pairing wines available, and also to realize that it’s just downright one of the tastiest and most characterful wines out there. Our market has been flooded over the past few years with artisan-made, ridiculously-high quality wines from tiny family farms that have somehow made their way to our shelves and wine lists. Gamay all day, as they say. 

Domaine Saint-Cyr has become a cornerstone of those wines. To say that this winery has gone through a major revolution is a huge understatement: 4th generation winemaker Raphael Saint-Cyr has foresaken some of his family’s estate holdings in favor of better plots, completely changed his farming to be 100% organic (making it the largest organic estate in Beaujolais), and brought a vibrancy and freshness to the estate’s wines that is impossible to ignore. And while you don’t have to choose to not add sulphur to be a cool-kid winemaker, Raphael feels that his red wines just don’t need it (although he does employ small amounts of it in his white and rose wines).  

Raphael makes a lot of different wines, but the perfect introduction to what he does lies in his “La Galoche” wines. ‘Galoche’ is the name of the small stream near the family estate but… it’s also French teenage slang for ‘making out’. And while the name might induce a chuckle or two, it describes the fun-loving and youthful nature of this wine to a T. Fresh red fruit bursts out of the glass with hints of green herbs and gentle earthiness dancing around in the background, and an arrow of acidity streaks through the finish. This wine is alive and, like some extroverts I know, can’t help but to intrinsically be the life of the party.  

And have we talked yet about what this little Gamay can do next to a perfect pork chop from Pork & Plants Farm? The great thing about both Eric’s chops (from Pork & Plant) and Raphael’s La Galoche Gamay is that they don’t require a lot of dressing up. The wine doesn’t see even a whisper of oak—only 6 months aging in inert concrete tanks—because the fruit is so good and pure already that it doesn’t need any ‘makeup’ from the winemaker. The pork? Throw a dash of salt and pepper on it, put on a quick sear, and you’ve got a perfect, melt-in-your-mouth chop that just may change your life (according to our meatmonger Nick). The wine provides just the right amount of barely-ripe red fruit notes and fresh acidity to compliment and cut through the savory, buttery qualities of the pork, but is still content to simply be the perfect wingman/wingwoman by staying in the background and letting the food do the showing-off.  

This is an honest-to-goodness pairing of wine and food that’s not always easy to come by these days. The farmers that worked to bring these products into the world—coming from two very different places—had the same goal in mind: to bring joy through pure, simple, and honest food and wine that was raised well and with intention.  

Cheers to the small guys who bring us big flavors and big feelings.