Beaujolais Winemaker David Large Talks Films and Winemaking


Since 1840, the family of Beaujolais winemaker David Large has been growing wine. From father to son, the Large family has past down the tradition of winemaking and David Large is the last of his family working in crafting wine, preferring to be a Beaujolais pirate of winemaking.  While in Lyon, France, I had the opportunity to talk with David Large at the Radio Vino Studios alongside Julien from Radio Vino and our wonderful French to English translator Katy. 

If you’d like, enjoy listening to our complete interview via Radio Vino.

Eric: I’m curious, how do you know each other? 

David: Oh, for me and Katy, it’s just now. And for me and Julien a long time ago, ten years ago, during a party.

Julien: I think one of the first times I asked David to come in the theatre to do testing experience about wine. 

David: Yes, because in the past, to sell my wine, I organized some tasting with French rap and wine. So I chose one track of a different or very special rapper to match with my wine. And I can do a different link between the terroir, the rapper, the text and the wine. There is a lot of links, how can I say, bridge? 

Katy: Yeah, bridges. 

Eric: Can you give an example of how you paired those wines together? Yeah, for sure. At this night, for introducing my white wine, I chose a track from Kaaris titled “Zoo”, just to express the violence of text, but with simply like the link with the acidity of the wine, the freshness, and the punch. And I did another of the things, I chose, for example. two different rappers from the same department but you recognize by the voice like Biggie or Tupac you can recognize and the same it was the same to introduce for example Beaujolais Village appellation you have several producers but you just have to recognize the grain. So there is a link in the game between the two different rappers on the same place but two different expressions and it’s the same process for the wine. The same place, same grape variety but two different expressions and if you can recognize the Gamay grape variety. This was the the game.

Eric: And that was 10 years ago? That’s awesome. So are you you’re a musician as well?

David: No just a consumer. A good consumer. I don’t know the name in english, but i’m the good target for Nintendo, Nike, movies, entertainment.

Katy: You’re a good customer.

Julien: You are a geek?

David: Yeah, a geek. (laughs)

Katy: It’s nice that because quite often you think it’s it’s almost original to have the wine and then translate it into a song you know that that idea but also even more so with it’s it’s even more original having wine and and translate it into rap, that’s really weird yeah but potentially powerful. 

David: i heard in the past I read some press article there was some familiar in New York who did that i don’t remember but it was a long time ago and we used to have some tasting with the jazz. 

You have several night or party with jazz and wine or classic music and wine so it’s pretty cool but I think we can have the same with the jazz. I tried with hard rock too because it’s the same process with hard rock or rap, hip -hop and you can have the same I think with the movies it’s longer but you have several bridges for that. 

Eric: Yeah how did you what’s your story how did you begin how did you start getting into wine are you from a wine making family? 

David: Yeah it’s a long time ago too since 1840 in my family. From father to son. From father to son since 1840 and I am the last one. My brother and sister didn’t want to continue the estate, so I came back after a small experience in another area in France. 

And I decided to continue the estate and to produce my own production. 

Eric: That’s amazing. Julien, what about you? Have you ever gotten into winemaking yourself or attempted to get into winemaking?

I don’t have the stress capacity to be a winemaker. It’s too hard for me when I saw how they are living and what they are facing, I don’t know, Confronting. Like the froze, like everything is not good for me. I prefer to be a drinker and a speaker.

Katy: But you’ve had experience. 

Julien: Yes, I like to go, but one or two weeks. And you need, when you do interviews about wine, if you want to be, you need to be close to people who are working and to understand what is to wake up at four, what is to be stressed, to work together with other winemakers. So for me, I’m a spectator. 

Eric: What would you say are some of the challenges in making wine, especially natural wine? 

I’m very close to natural wine, but now I put some sulfates, a small part, when I’m bottling. But we are an organic process with the certification and the vineyards. I read a lot and I tested some biodynamic processes too but sometimes it’s too esoteric for me. I want to like the process I don’t want to do like because the person say you have to like the religion I don’t know if I’m clear 

Katy: It’s a bit like a sect?

David: yeah I’m not scared about that about sect or esoterism but I want to understand and to the life the like faith for me the same process so I prefer to to keep the organic label mm -hmm it’s a hard job so I prefer to start with that 

Julien: When you say it’s not natural one yeah it’s not natural but it’s very very close and if you would if everybody was can work with them like them it will be wonderful for us for the movement.

David: You can make some bridges or links, like music or movies. You have the, I don’t know if it’s, okay, purist? Yeah, you have the same in the rap or rock. And I don’t want to be a, how to say that I’m a natural, because it’s a, you can have very purist, very high received purist, or the same for the conventional wines. So I prefer to be just me, organic in that sort. 

Katy: Perhaps you feel more free in that way yeah? Less pressure for you?

David: For me, yeah. But I think people like the protocol. And more and more I grow up. The older I get, I don’t want any protocol. At start, it was a security for me, but now there is a lot of people talk on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram. You have several different style of wine grower, wine maker. And I just want to focus on my estate and my job and so I prefer to be a pirate.

Katy: That’s great.

David: Maybe when I will be a 50, I will have no label, no organization, no protocol. I don’t know. We talk about that with some older wine grower two weeks ago. Mr. Chanudet. His nickname. It’s Le Chat, he is a big star in Beaujolais. 

Eric: So is it a consistency thing? Is that what you find that if you’re completely natural, if you’re completely no sulfates or whatever it might be, it’s like it’s wild. It’s like the bottles, there might be a good batch. And so it’s kind of a way of keeping it consistent. 

David: Yes, but I test and I trade some very natural wine in the past. Sometimes it was very good. but I didn’t export a lot so it was very easy to sell or when you don’t produce a lot when you don’t export it’s easy to talk, it’s easy to test but when you take some risk when I started to buy some trucks, some mechanics, I had more risks, more plots and discovered my limit and sometimes I’m a very stressed person so when my importers say we had a problem here on this bottle it was completely oxidated I was very stressed and I said if I just put one gram or two grams per litre maybe it could be better but I lost the opportunity so I have to wait one year to produce again to come back by phone to convince my importer to taste again and so it depends on the vintage. I discovered that when it’s fresh like 21 or 14 for me it was easy to produce natural wine but when it’s very hot with the climate it’s too tricky for me. I prefer to put surface in it it’s not a problem for me with a low dosage but I prefer to protect because it’s too much work to lose the last months. it’s very personal for me. 

Eric: The wine making process is personal for you?

David: Yeah like music or movies sometimes you have a different cycle I think I don’t know for a great producer but I think you have different for example Madonna or some rock band you have different cycle different epochs or David Bowie or Michael Jackson. 

Eric: So what what era do you feel like you’re in now if you were to compare it to a movie or to a to a musical group? 

David: I think for me and directly it’s between 80s and 90s because there is no numeric assistance it’s all handmade I like for example the story of Ghostbusters or Jurassic Park (1993) You have some special effects but with real makeup, real makeup, real latex it’s the same for I think for my production you have a small a small tank with different people but it’s all by end with not a lot of budget not for Jurassic Park but I gave you for example a label ‘Toxic Gamay’nger” it’s for the trauma movies toxic avenger and trauma produced for me in my vision produced some horror films in the past with no budget it’s all like handheld camera exactly and I think it’s a good philosophy to be winemaker so this is a so this is a independent the toxic gamanger what’s a gamanger what’s gamanger 

Gamay’nger just play on words, like the real name of the movies it’s ‘Toxic Avenger’ it’s free on YouTube if you have some time and I just put the name gamma toxic gamanger just a tribute toxic avenger I like to in the game is the name of the grips so and so this is a he’s this is an independent film yeah when did this come out it’s a trash it was trash now it’s old but it’s the story of a loser who felt in a mass chemical product after a fight, and it transformed in a monster, green monster, and he had his revenge and he takes the law into his own hands in corrupt city, sorry, and it was the tribute, so it was in 2016, I had the label on the plot, the green label, organic label. I was in the chemical product in the past, and I transformed in the green monster in this year. And we met with Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma team.

Eric: That’s awesome. So, have you ever thought of doing any filmmaking yourself or have you been a part of it in the past?

When I was young. But it was very cheap

Katy: What did you do?!

Oh just some I recorded some stories with my smaller cousins Or some it with episodes during the summer and we tried in the in college No, yes, it’s high school high school just to make to put a remake of a text that chainsaw massacre

Eric: Is it is it is it on YouTube 

David: no, I didn’t take the risk we don’t know the future.

A Beaujolais Resurrection

Eric: I’m noticing that a lot of these are a lot of these are.. yeah, they’re all they’re all film themed?

David: Yeah, you have “Zombie” for example the Zombie label So it’s my Le Beaujolais Nouveau, my premier wine. So there is link with my horror film. I read about George Romero and it was very interesting between his strategy and and the impact in the city in the past because you can see behind the scenes, you have some tricks inside. I Like her for example gaming with a Resident Evil So I decided to put a zombie for my Beaujolais Nouveau because a lot of people laugh about Beaujolais Nouveau, but every year we wake up from earth, like the terroir and we come back every third Thursday of November. ‘Army of the Dead’ wine. 

Katie: It’s a Beaujolais resurrection!

Eric: So what’s going on with Poltergeist?

David: Oh, Poltergeist is because on this one I bought the plots, just the grapes, from a friend, Alex. So he produced some Pinot Noir in Beaujolais. He wanted to sell the grapes, so I decided to buy. And it’s just like a… a ghost.

Katie: Just once, and then it disappears.  Just a glimpse, and then it vanishes. Okay. Just a glimpse,

David: yeah. It was a bet to do one time, just one time, to produce some Pinot Noir. and because the game is the king of Beaujolais, the grape variety. Pinot Noir, it’s very rare, it’s from Burgundy, and you have the vision of just one time Poltergiest, one time Pinot Noir, just like a ghost, do some tricks or make some noise, very aggressive, but just one time. 

Eric: Are you a writer? Do you write stories? You seem like you have a writer’s on my blog in the past year.

David: I conserved some pages, but just for me now. 

Katy: Do they feature zombies? Yeah. Yeah. They have zombies, ghosts, wine? 

Zombie, ghosts, and you have on every family, but my grandparents in several villages, it’s not just for me, you can have the same in your city or in your family, but the grandfather, when the mother or grandfather, there was a spiritual connection in the country. So with the ghost, the visions, the crests, you have a mix between religions, superstition, healing, and I like the links between movies. The ancestral legacy and my family, the spiritual part.

Katy: And all the energies. 

Eric: You feel like the energy is kind of floating around the vineyards of your family, your heritage, and maybe even past vineyards, past crops, I don’t know what you would say, crops, I guess, maybe like wine crops. 

Katy: Vines?

Eric: Yeah! past vines. 

David: I think so. I’m not superstitious, but I think that sometimes you have some link or some energy even if you don’t trust in anything but sometimes you can feel the some frequencies in houses with people, with wine too and I saw different things or with animals, but with the old generation. 

Julien: Do you have some field with a because in France every each field of a name do you have some field with a quite strange name of like a parselle de fait or something like that?

David: We have one but it’s just a road at the top of the A state it’s the deadly old woman. 

Deadly old woman but with the new vibration. It’s dark in the wood. There is a small road name like this. But now the new mayor changed the name to rue de le chouet. It’s more… Chouet is owl.

Eric: Okay, this is awesome, man. This is really cool stuff. Okay, so what’s going on with BTMBL? 

It’s the Batmobile. Because every year, since 2018, I decided to produce the same plots with the same process of vinification. It’s the same plot, same process, but we changed the label. And I’m fond of movies and mechanical or cars. And I put a different cult, a vehicle from movies. We start with an interceptor from Mad Max with Mel Gibson, the first one. So we take the color or some signs from the movies. And we just put the shadow of the vehicle. 

And I write a small poem on the right. And we try to do a tribute. We don’t want a caricature, but just a… A wink, a nudge. So, in this text, you have a different, I don’t know, I’m going to use winks. You have different winks from the Batman story, but childhood, and the name of the real enemy like Cobblepot or Joker. So there is a small story I had to explain in three words, but it depends from JP10 we just took a smaller sentence from the movie.

“God creates dinosaurs God destroys dinosaurs God creates man man destroys God man creates dinosaurs and the dinosaurs eat man and women inherits” 

Eric: So what’s your favorite film? 

David: Oh I thought you will ask that I don’t know it’s a very good question I think just for the my childhood, my souvenir, maybe Jurassic Park and for the film I think the biggest one ‘The Exorcist’ or ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ for the same impression in the past.

What is it about ‘The Exorcist’ or a ‘Chainsaw Massacre’ that the appeals to you so much?

David: I like that because in the past it was a very we didn’t have a YouTube or so when I had the tape it was just like a ceremonial because it was a on the cover it was forbidden not to load in France since so you have all the ceremonial when you open the tape when you put the tape in the manuscript it’s okay and I read in the past that Toby Hooper produced this movie with no budget so for the sound for the makeup and finally you didn’t see any blood in the first one the basic chainsaw massacre and I like the mass the intensity the stress and to produce a masterpiece for me like this with no budget. it’s good, like like a singer with no budget you can produce and create and be famous, you can be a pirate with no budget no protocol but you can win.

Katy: I love the the fact on your labels on your wine labels you have you have your bridges for like so many media and so many different references and and I can imagine it on a bottle being a talking point to people like when they open the take the cork out and it’s it’s a real big talking point and sharing moment.

David: Exactly

Eric: Yeah and it doesn’t feel forced it feels organic you know it feels like it belongs there it doesn’t feel like you’re just you know you’re trying to be cool or popular or sell wine you know it feels like you’re just doing what you love doing that’s really cool. So let’s talk about taxi?

Taxi is the new one. So we do especially for this one, we can do an open day, so we do a special open day for this this car ‘Taxi’ so it’s a French movie and very famous car and there is a link between Marseille, the city, the rap because just for the soundtrack you have a different a rappers. In this movie 1998, I think so for me it’s the Golden Age of a rap. And we found the car, the real car from the movie. So during the open days, we opened some new bottles of Taxi. And we have the cat census Peugeot in the estate. So if you don’t like wine, you can just come to take a picture of the cat census. 

Where is this? This is in Beaujolais?

In Beaujolais, in my small village, Mombla.

Eric: And it’s there till May 20th?

Just one day, on the Sunday, It’s the weekend. 18th – 19th of May.

That’s awesome. So, what next for you, How does the year look for you as far as your work goes as a winemaker? What are you doing right now with your time? Or what do you want to do it? 

Oh, just to continue to plant a new grape variety, I started to plant some from Austria grape variety, Guner or Vettliner. I would like to, we just bought with Celia old lens, abandoned lens, and we want to plant again during, not this year, I think it’s too young, but it’s too early, sorry. Maybe next year. We discovered some hybrid grape variety, and we tasted from Japan grape variety. Khushu

I don’t remember the name… Koshu! (the name of the grape variety) It does not have a lot of alcohol. It’s resistant with the weather, so maybe it’s a good adventure. We still continue to produce Beaujolais appellation with Gamay and Chardonnay, but I think the new project, is to discover new plantation, new wine, or we will see. 

Eric: Beaujolais wine, there’s red and white varieties?

Yeah, you have red, white and rosé.

So with the red wine, what do you pair that as far as food goes? What typically would you pair that type of wine with?

You have the classics, for example, you have Asian food, it’s perfect because you don’t have a lot of tannins. It’s really balanced with spices, spicy food. For me the classics, it’s just homemade burger or I say kebab. It’s perfect for me. Not junk food but street food.

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