Gigondas (ji-gone-daas)… it is a pretty ugly word isn’t it? It doesn’t roll off the tongue like Chateauneuf, Gevrey or Provence… nor does it command the same sense of allure or mystique. But don’t judge a wine by its cover, or the rough and tumble of its name or region; Gigondas is a sleeper of an appellation in the south of France, that does command attention, and deservedly so.
Gigondas is in the Southern Rhone valley in the south of France. It is a small appellation, just to the north-west of better known Chateauneuf du Pape. The make up (and style) of the wines are similar, with full-bodied Grenache providing the core of the blend, and in this case, about 20% Mourvedre filling it out. The temperatures in Gigondas are warm, the climate dry, the vineyards are a rocky, stony clay and the vines are hit by the intense mistral winds that storm the valley. It is a beautiful, rugged, rustic region that is slightly off the beaten track, but loaded with history.
Today we are offering a Gigondas Vieilles Vignes (old vine) from one of the leading estates, Saint Damien. The Estate has been run by the Saurel family since 1821. According to Robert Parker (Wine Advocate) the current “proprietor Joel Saurel, backed up by the inimitable Philippe Cambie as his consultant, has transformed this estate into one of the greatest in Gigondas, rivaling the two top producers, Yves Gras’ Santa Duc and Louis Barruol’s Saint Cosme.”
The approach of Saurel and Cambie is very honest, authentic and traditional. They farm their vineyards organically (certified), yield extremely low, ferment their grapes in old cement tanks and age them in old, large foudres. The resultant wines are stealth and full bodied with dark, intense fruits, framed by silky, fine, lacy tannins that give the wines length and finesse.
The Gigondas Vielles Vignes 2016 is a flagship wine that typifies the style just mentioned. Though to detail this wine, there are flavours of black cherry, blackcurrant, spiced plum, mushroom, fennel, dry herbs, caramel and mocha. There is a lot going on. The fruit flavours mingle with the savoury flavours seamlessly, though it is the length and tannin that is most impressive. It recently received 93 points from Robert Parker, which is a top shelf score, and it is also worth digging out the reviews from Jeb Dunnick. The wine beats and drinks better than many Chateauneuf du Pape and it will comfortably age until 2025 at the very least. It will get better with every year you wait.
Regarding food, give it a whirl with lamb shanks, an Indian lamb curry or a Massaman beef curry… just don’t go too wild on the spice. It will also make a homemade burger look pretty good. Please enjoy and shout out if you’ve got any questions.