Gaèlle et Baptiste Cousin
The ‘Dynamitage’ 2019 from Gaèlle et Baptiste Cousin can be summed up in one word: Glouglou. (Although it could be argued that that is two words strung together for maximum effect). For the uninitiated, the (ir)reputable website that is Urban Dictionary (thanks to user boringstuff) has published a definition as follows:
GLOUGLOU: Ultra-drinkable, chug-worthy wine usually made with minimal intervention (fuck off lab yeasts, sugar, and acids) and little to no additives (just a tad of SO2 if the bugger is volatile as shit). Usually at a lower alcohol percentage, glouglou wines make you want to keep drinking and not hurt.
The post goes on to quote anonymous persons with:
“A warm summer day demands glouglou wines. Low in tannins, high in acidity, a teeny bit fizzy (from that bomb carbonic maceration magick), it's grown-up Kool-Aid that won't kill you (quickly). Alllllllll JUICE.”
It’s a hard gig playing in the shadow of your Papa when he has made an indelible mark not only on the world but also on the same boards you find yourself treading. Such is the case for many of the worlds winemakers where so many estates, chateaus, houses, hovels, beat-up shacks and garage wineries are inherited, desirably or not, by the off-spring of grape wranglers and whisperers. The lucky ones get the knack for it when the old folks are still kicking and can couple the bricks and mortar with wisdom, wine and wisdom on wine straight from the horses mouth.
When my grandfather passed I inherited his eczema and thirst for Irish whisky. (I’m sure I should mention I also got his sharp sense of humour and diamond cheekbones but that would be indulgent, so I won’t). Some kids have all the luck. Across the street from me, there lived this kid whose Dad was into wine, in all the right ways. He had a tidy cellar, he read about wine, he bought wine at auction, he bought wine on holiday, he bought wine for joy and he always shared what superb and strange booty he acquired with my parents and with us boys when we came of age (and a little bit before). And when he died it was really sad. It was sad because that boy’s Mother sold the lot. She sold the mature Spatburgunder and the rich Amarone. She sold the gingin clone Chardonnay and she sold the Northern Rhone Syrah. And she sold it for peanuts, just to be rid of it, all on a misguided belief that sulphites made her sick. Though I suspect it had more to do with the fact that every glistening or dust-covered bottle reminded her of the man she had lost. Across the street from me, this kid inherited not the library of wine he had been promised but a useless set of golf clubs and the same dicky heart as his father. Across the city I’m sure there were other kids inheriting all kinds of good, bad and ugly treasures from their parents, dead or alive. Across the city, across the sea, across this warming planet.
And smack in Anjou, winemaker and child of the vine Baptiste Cousin, son of Cab Franc wrangler and long term player of the organic game Olivier Cousin, has inherited his fathers same deft hand. Baptiste has put that deft hand to good juice with both Groilleau and Gamay since 2013, milking old plantings of the otherwise Beaujolais staple for all its worth. The ‘Dynamtiage’ sees whole bunch carbonic maceration for 10-14 days and is sat in old oak for twelve months. No filter. No fine. No sulphur. Yes funk.
This is party juice. I’m drinking the 2019 ‘Dynamitage’ and it is delicious. There’s wild-strawberry smashing against the tongue. There’s fuzzy fruit and boiled sugar on first opening; blueberry tart and the sourness of crème fraîche towards the finish. It’s a dark-fruited and dusty Loire Gamay. This is wine that’s heard disco. This is wine that has smelled the roasting muscles of wild game as much as it has answered the door to takeaway pizza. This is wine that scoffs when conversation turns to politics but is the first to suggest we should hit a karaoke bar.
It looks like the juice of beetroots. Or just a straight up glass bowl of fresh borsht. Where’s my pickled onions? Where’s my side of rye? Where’s the snow slapping the windows? Nose gives candied plums, white pepper spice, celery salt and that (carbonic maceration/carbo/car mac) Gamay staple of bubbled-gums.
I keep coming back to beetroot. To root vegetables. To the raw loveliness of things pulled straight from the ground that make their way to your mouth. There’s an unusual and pleasant savouriness smack on the lips. It smells like old socks. And has, after a spell, the feel, the subtle spice of cured meat on the mouth. It’s zippy on the tongue and yet tacky on the teeth. It’s cloudy, mirky, stinky. It’s wild and alive. So alive you get a tiny lick of (not unpleasant) fizziness in the glass also—likely on account of naturally occurring carbon dioxide. It’s not volatile but it’s also not entirely certain which way to pitch. And it fades quickly, though this can be forgiven given the burst of flavour, of juicy and dripping fruits that come before it.
And in that juicy mix is sour lollies and horse stable. They were called WarHeads (they still might be—the lollies, not the horses). I’ve not thought about them for over twenty years and yet here I am, loitering in my first floor flat with a view of the park in a city far far from the one of my childhood, and thinking about the boiled sweets and their sprinkling of face-contorting sour punch. Cousin works the vineyards with horses. I’d like to think maybe a little of the stink off the old brutes has found it’s way into the grapes too. Not saddle. Not leather. Not hard muscle. But maybe something more ‘animal’, something grimy and set free. Something ultimately hard to describe or sum up in a single word.
In English the word might be quaffer. Or banger. Or glugger. Or sinker. Or quencher. Or chugger. But none quite suffice. Thankfully the French have a word (as they have had on many occasions previous, think terroir, think flâner, think je ne se quoi) to describe the indescribable. That word is glouglou. And that wine is ‘Dynamitage’.
tasted June 2021