Grapevine Archive for Gigondas
Around a year ago, a small party of lucky members, random winners of our Buyers’ Tour competition, met up one morning in Saint Pancras.
Six hours or so later, we were in the Rhône valley tasting our first wine. The highlight of the trip was a safari-style excursion in Gigondas, aboard two Land Rovers, one coming from Clos de Cazaux, the other generously on loan from the Beaumes de Venise co-op.
Jean-Michel Vache bought the Cazaux land rover ex-United Nations, where it had seen service in Bosnia and Kossovo. But that’s another story!
The trip had been hugely successful and it got me thinking:
Why not bring Gigondas to the UK?
The Land Rovers were left behind.
Instead five Gigondas producers came over, first to London and then the following day to Newcastle, and they gave an hour-long masterclass on Gigondas as part of our annual Rhône event.
There were eight vintages shown, from the youthful fruit of a 2014 to the majesty of 2007.
Gigondas itself was represented by the aforementioned Jean-Michel Vache, showing a mighty 2009, Thierry Faravel of Domaine la Bouïssière, Jean-Baptiste Meunier of Moulin de la Gardette, Louis Barruol of Chateau Saint-Cosme and Henri-Claude Amadieu of Domaine Amadieu.
A reason why it worked so well is that the growers are all mates, some very close, so there was no infighting and no jealousies.
Gigondas is a not an especially large appellation and all of it pulls well together. It is heartening to see members’ enthusiasm for the wines on the rise, and perhaps we’ll do it again sometime!
In the meantime, our current offering of affordable pleasures from the excellent Rhône 2014 vintage features a delicious juicy red from Moulin de Gardette (£13.50), as well as what would be a blueprint for white Gigondas, if such a wine legally existed, from Amadieu (£9.95).
Burns Night is fast approaching, arriving this coming Sunday. In anticipation of the coming night here are some of my choices for wine and spirits to toast, and then drink alongside the glorious haggis.
Haggis is a very robust dish with strong meat and spice flavours. Any lightweight wines will therefore be well and truly drowned out. In my opinion, the best options are therefore full-bodied and spicy reds of the Rhône, Greece and Lebanon.
• Semeli Nemea Reserve 2010 (£10.95)
This is a wonderful example of agiorgitiko with firm tannins and red berry fruit. From a classic vintage in Greece this is a full-bodied and rich, yet fine and elegant wine that will continue to age for a further five years.
• Gigondas Chateau Raspail 2011 (£14.95)
This is classic Gigondas, full-bodied, richly textured, spicy with ripe and round tannins with just the slightest oak influence.
• Massaya Silver Selection Red 2010 (£17.50)
This cuvée is a blend of cinsault, grenache, cabernet and mourvèdre made with the help of Chateauneuf winemaker Daniel Brunier. This has wonderful blackberry notes with spice. It’s round, exotic and elegant with firm, ripe tannins.
• Chateau Musar 2007 (£22)
One of the great cult wines of the wine-world coming from Lebanon’s most famous producer. This cabernet, cinsault and carignan blend has bags of character, it is powerful and concentrated with dark berry fruit and spice. This should be peaking around 2022 and lasting until 2027, but is drinking fantastically now.
Of course, if you are able and willing to experience the occasion in the true, traditional way then there is no better option than Scotch whisky. Of course it is advisable to have some of Scotland’s greatest export on hand even if serving wine, for after the meal.
• Litre of The Society’s Special 16 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky (£25)
If you are having a Burns Night party with the whole clan in attendance it may be an idea to keep aside the single malt and pass round glasses of this terrific blend. A blend of fine old malts and grains this has delicate smoke and honey here, with complexity and length reminiscent of far more expensive drams.
• The Society’s Exhibition Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 12 Years Old (£32)
For those looking to splash out (hopefully retaining some liquid in the glass) this is a wonderful option from the Society’s Exhibition range. This 12 year old malt has classic Speyside qualities of wonderful dried fruit, sweet spices, nuts and citrus fruits.
Trainee Campaign Manager
The Society’s Exhibition Gigondas is a firm favourite in my household, and so it was a great pleasure to take part in blending the 2013 vintage on a recent trip to the Rhône with buyer Marcel Orford-Williams.
Louis Barruol, pictured, is the enthusiastic and highly talented winemaker at Château Saint Cosme, the source of the Exhibition Gigondas. His family has been making wine at Saint Cosme for 14 generations, and the beautiful, labyrinthine old cellars attest to this. But Louis has also modernised the winery and this, along with his passion and capability, is obvious in the quality of his wines.
The 2013 Exhibition Gigondas is a blend of different parcels and foudres, resulting in a full, well-structured wine with concentrated dark-fruit flavours, hints of sweet spice and wonderful length. It will need a year or two before it’s quite ready to drink, but once there it will be delicious.
In the meantime, our extensive opening offer of other 2013 Rhône and Languedoc wines will be released very soon indeed.
There is a real buzz in Gigondas, which boasts a number of fabulous estates. The region has also been helped by the arrival of the Brunier brothers from Vieux Télégraphe and the Perrins from Beaucastel.
Indeed it is the Perrin family who have added a substantial draw within Gigondas itself with the revamped restaurant l’Oustalet. Some members may remember a magnificent dinner at Merchant Taylors which featured Beaucastel and their resident chef. Well it is he who is behind l’Oustalet which has suddenly made this pretty village a destination in itself.
But then of course there was always something different in Gigondas, with its dangerously late-ripening vineyards amidst the mountains of the Dentelles de Montmirail. There are fabulous wines in both 2009 and 2010 but my pick has to be about the most traditional of all Gigondas: Domaine du Cayron.
This is the estate of Michel Ferraud and his three daughters, known to some as the three graces. Two of them are pictured (right) along with their ancient steam-powered basket press. The cellars are just off the main street before it gets lost in the village.
It is just before half term. Children are playing ball or catch a hundred yards away. A camper van is parked nearby; a couple, wide of girth and of retirement age are busy, one taking pictures of me while his partner washes underwear in a bucket placed on the road by the driver’s door. I’m of course tasting Gigondas amidst this little theatre of life.
I prefer tasting in the street as the cellars are heavy with the smells of the new vintage. I taste 2009 which we bought last year and spit into a gutter. Wonderful stuff, big and brawny but in need of some bottle age.
Then, I taste 2010 cask by cask. All confusion: “this is tank 3 but used to be foudre number 6 while this is tank 5 but also ex foudre 6.” Fine, I say; foudre 6 is what we want. 2010 is a knockout wine, about as good as Gigondas can be. The camper van has gone and the children have stopped playing, though I can hear the sounds of an English lesson going on instead. Time to move on.