|The Dentelles de Montmirail peaks that tower over the Gigondas region.|
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to attend a tasting of Gigondas wines hosted by their appellation group Syndicate de Gigondas that represents the producers and growers of this tiny Southern Rhone region where the Grenache grape is king. Multiple vintages were poured, but the majority were 2011, 2010 and a sprinkling of 2009 and 2012. For the longest time I always thought of Gigondas as “more affordable Chateauneuf du Pape look-a likes” that under-achieved. While that may have been true in some aspects in the past, what I tasted this day was to me “quintessential Grenache from Gigondas”. Part of this is my palate appreciation getting better and from what I think are the wines being made in a fresher, more pure style, especially for the Grenache.
Here are my tasting notes on the wines I tasted that stood out in no particular order.
Domaine du Terme Etiquette Noire 2009
Domaine Saint Gayan Cuvee Tradition 2009
Domaine Santa Duc (3 wines)
Aux Lieux-Dits Gigondas Red 201175% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, Cinsault 5%Cracked pepper and roasted meats, leather, a touch of cream and garrigue counter red and black fruits. This is the most noticeably tannic of the 3 wines. The vines average 30 years in age.
Prestige Hautes Garrigues Gigondas 2011
78% Old Vine Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 2% SyrahIntense, deep and ripe. This wine is layered in walls of fruit, glycerin and tannins with some good freshness on the finish. The fruit source is from old Grenache vines that are 60+ years old. Black fruits, garrigue, minerality, a mild smokiness and spice highlight the aromas and flavors.
Chateau Saint Cosme Gigondas 2011 – Traditional blend
60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 18% Mourvedre, 2% Cinsault
Earthy aromas with some funk. Ripe red and blue fruits, with some meaty and smoky notes on the palate. A good structure from the medium to full grain tannins, this was on the tight side but showed nice potential.
Romane Machotte Gigondas 2011
80% Grenache, 20% SyrahThis was a very tightly wound wine, chewy with a very firm and powerful tannic structure. The fruit and spice still pushed through showing cherry, currants, licorice, smoke meat and cracked pepper.
Domaine du Pesquier Gigondas 201075% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 5% MourvedreAged in foudre and concrete vats, this came across incredibly fresh and elegant, though the fruit was quite persistent and long, this wine had great breadth. This was one of the freshest tasting of the entire event, very lively with great acidity and medium grain tannins. Roast meats, stony minerality, raspberry, black plum fan out nicely on the palate. Very small production.
50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% MourvedreA fruity and viscous style, this was ripe, though countered well with good acidity. The tannins were fine and velvety; almost too much so but maybe the lush textured fruit make this appear less tannic than it actually is. Blackberry, blueberry, crème d’cassis, chocolate, some spice and some bacon fat highlight the aromas and flavors. The 2011 was aged 12 months in 2-4 year old neutral oak barrels with the fermentations in stainless tanks.
Domaine du Grapillon d’Or (4 wines)
Domaine du Grapillon d’Or Excellence Gigondas 201060% Grenache, 40% SyrahFrom 60 year old vines, the Excellence is decadent but fresh, elegant yet powerful. Ripe blackberry, cherry, cracked pepper and roasted meat rise from the glass and fan out on the palate. 100% tank fermented this wine ages in old oak barrels for 18 months.
Domaine du Grapillon d’Or Excellence Gigondas 201160% Grenache, 40% SyrahThe 2011 is similar, with additional notes of licorice and tobacco. The tannins are more pronounced and the acidity is a little lower, so texturally this is a very different wine, but otherwise it shows good parity.
Domaine du Grand Bourjassot – Cuvee Cecile Gigondas 201050% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% MourvedreOne of the most complex wines of the event, this is a classically textured wine showing garrigue, spice, red fruits, fresh flowers, peppercorn and Asian spices. Savory and meaty, with more Asian spice on the palate with deep red fruits. Great freshness and length on the finish, I really liked this wine a lot. 3-4 year old neutral barrels age organically farmed fruit that is fermented with stem inclusion in glass lined tanks and then aged in barrel.
Domaine de Font-Sane (2 wines)
Gigondas Terrasses des Dentelles 201172% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 3% MourvedreNicely complex, this wine is complicated with cinnamon, licorice, sweet un-smoked cigar tobacco, cedar, red currants and cherry notes that abound in the nose and the palate of this wine. Full bodied and powerful, this wine shows sound structure and good freshness. Full bodied, the tannins are firm but very ripe. Aged 1 year in cask.
Domaine des Florets (3 wines)
Domaine du Clos des Tourelles Gigondas 2010Grenache, Syrah blend (%s not stated)This is a very, well made wine, showing the money behind it from the Perrin (Beaucastel) family. This is stylish and dense, but texturally persistent and pure. Red fruits like raspberry and cherry dominate the nose and palate, superb minerality, subtle spice and just a touch of cedar layer in with the fruit. This is aged 15 months in cask with no de-stemming during the initial fermentation. The vineyard is close to being certified organic and bio-dynamic. One of the best from Gigondas, it also is one of the most expensive and only available in limited quantities of 2,500 6 packs.
Domaine Cecile Chassagne Gigondas 201180% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% MourvedreGarrigue, pepper, red fruits, stony minerality, good length with sweet cigar tobacco, and savory smoked meat. Very well made, this wine is powerful with a full-bodied tannic texture and ample acidity. This finished nicely, clean and long.
Domaine du Cayron Gigondas 201070% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 14% Syrah, 10% MourvedreOne of my favorite Gigondas since my first encounter with the 2007 vintage, the 2010 is on the money and just as good if not better as it is much fresher with the same intensity and concentration. Traditionally, the wine spends 6 to 12 months ageing in large oak foudre. The vines range in age from 30 to 50 years old. This is for me one of the best buys not only in the Rhone but in the entire world of wine. Pen ink, juicy currants, pepper, licorice and garrigue, with flecks of lavender. Impeccably balanced, medium bodied with medium to full bodied tannin and a super fresh long finish.
Domaine des Bosquets Gigondas 201170% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 14% Syrah, 10% MourvedreAged for 12 months in cement vats, this is a regional blend of all the estate vine holdings. Cherry and pepper; creamy and round with firm but ripe tannins.