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Where In The World is Gigondas?

May 5, 2018 1 comment

Do you think I’m dumbing it down way out of proportion? Do you think every wine consumer is perfectly familiar with whereabouts of Gigondas and its wines, and thus taking offense in the title of this post? Well, if this is the case, please share your anger in the comments section below and click the “x” in the corner. And if you are still here, let’s talk about the tiny speck of land in the southern part of the Rhone appellation in France.

Size matters, but probably not in this case. Gigondas has only about 3,000 acres of vineyards for the whole appellation  (for comparison, E.& J. Gallo in California owns 20,000 acres of vineyards). Nobody knows where Gigondas name came from, but it is known that the wine was consumed in the Gigondas region more than 2,000 years ago. First records of Gigondas vineyard go all the way back to the 12th century. I guess the wine in Gigondas was really good even in the early days, as in 1591 there were first laws enacted, particularly prohibiting the sales of the wine to foreigners. In 1971, Gigondas became the first appellation in Côtes du Rhône-Villages to receive its own AOC status.

Gigondas is the land of Red and Rosé (just Red, mostly). Yep, that’s right – no white wines are produced and no white grapes are grown – at least for the wines produced under the Gigondas designation. The wines of Gigondas stylistically similar to the wines made in the neighboring – also much larger and a lot more famous – appellation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape – despite vignerons mostly working with 4 grapes in Gigondas (out of 8 varieties officially permitted), while folks in Châteauneuf-du-Pape allowed to use 18 in production of their red wines, 9 of which are white. At the end of the day, it is not for nothing both Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines are often classified as “GSM” – which stands for Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre – these are the main three grapes, with Grenache typically been a workhorse here (up to 80% allowed in Gigondas wines).

Now, the time has come for an ugly truth. I’m actually not familiar with Gigondas wines. I know and had many of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, but I usually would pass by one or two bottles of Gigondas which most of the stores would offer, and go to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the same price range. Thus when I was offered to try 3 different Gigondas wines, my “yes, please!” was very enthusiastic.

When I mentioned on Twitter that I’m going to play with err, taste a few of the Gigondas wines, I got back an instant outpour of love – and not only to the wines, but to the place. Take a look at these tweets:

It is time to talk about the wines I was able to taste. I had three wines, two from the 2015 vintage and one from 2014. Let’s take a look at the producers first.

The Domaine des Bosquets traces its history back to 14th century. Today, Domaine des Bosquets farms 64 acres of vineyards (50 years old vines), primarily growing Grenache and small amounts of Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault.

The Famille Perrin needs no introduction to the wine lovers. It takes roots in the same 14th century, with its historic Château de Beaucastel. In the 1950s, Famille Perrin became a pioneer of the organic farming, later on extending into the Biodynamic. The Famille Perrin also involved in the multiple projects in France and around the world, and the wine I tasted comes from their La Gille property in Gigondas.

Unlike the two wineries we just talked about, the Guigal Estate was founded in 1946 by Etienne Guigal in Ampuis, a small village Côte-Rôtie appellation. From there on, however, E. Guigal moved to the great prominence, with its so-called “La La” bottlings from Côte-Rôtie (La Mouline, La Turque, La Landonne) becoming an object of desire and obsession for the wine lovers around the world. Guigal Estate produces the wines in multiple appellations throughout both Northern and Southern Rhone, and “Guigal” name on the bottle is typically associated with quality.

I have to honestly tell you – with the exception of E.Guigal, this was not the love at first sight. However, all three wines perfectly evolved on the second day. Here are my notes:

2015 Famille Perrin La Gille Gigondas AOC (14.5% ABV, $38, 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah)
Garnet
Beet juice, mocha, raspberries, medium intensity, minerally undertones
Dense, chewy, blueberries and blueberry compote, eucalyptus, dark chocolate, medium to full body. Long finish.
7+, I would like a bit more balance.
8- second day, the wine is a lot tighter, has firm structure, shows hint of white pepper and by all means a lot more enjoyable. Apparently will improve with time.

2015 Domaine des Bosquets Gigondas AOC (15% ABV, $35, 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and Cinsault, total 30 month aging in oak and concrete)
Dark garnet, almost black
Intense nose of freshly cut berries, vanilla, eucalyptus. Noticeable alcohol as well.
The palate is very intense but also astringent at the same time, black pepper, surprisingly medium body (was expecting bigger body). After 30 minutes in the decanter, the aggressive alcohol is gone. Still, feels that the wine needs time – not ready to drink now. Putting aside for a day.
Day 2 – cherries, mocha, and coffee on the nose. No alcohol, all nice and integrated. The palate shows tart cherries, pepper, vanilla, cut through acidity, medium plus body. Nicely drinkable. 8-/8, very good.

2014 E. Guigal Gigondas AOC (14.5% ABV, $36, 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre)
Intense garnet
Open and inviting nose, black pepper, raspberries, mint, cassis
Fresh raspberries and blackberries, hint of mushrooms, nice minerality, a touch of vanilla and pepper, firm structure, good acidity, good balance
8-, a very pleasant and nicely drinkable wine from the get-go.
Day 2: 8+, sweet vanilla, dark chocolate and blueberries on the nose, extremely inviting. The palate evolved dramatically – pepper, raspberries, graphite, nutmeg, violets, firm structure, superb.

Here you are, my friends – my first serious encounter with Gigondas. Looking at the pictures, I would really love to visit Gigondas, and I will be happy to drink the Gigondas wine – just need to fiorget them in the cellar for a while. What is your eperience with Gigondas? Cheers!

 

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #MWWC7 12 days left, Don’t Forget OTBN, How Much Would You Pay For A Cocktail?

February 5, 2014 7 comments

Meritage time!

First, let’s start with the answer for the Wine Quiz #91, grape trivia – Cinsault. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about the red grape called Cinsault (it is Cinsaut for French-proper). Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Name 3 grapes, traditional blending partners of Cinsault in Provençal Rosé

A1: When it comes to Provençal Rosé, Carignan, Grenache and Mourvèdre are most often blended with Cinsault.

Q2: In which US state the history of winemaking is associated with Cinsault?

a. Oregon, b. Texas, c. Virginia, d. Washington

A2: Interestingly enough,  early history of winemaking in Washington is associated with Cinsault, which was introduced in the Walla Walla region by Italian immigrants.

Q3: The oldest continuously producing Cinsault vineyard in the world is located in:

a. Algeria, b. France, c. South Africa, d. United States

A3: It was recently discovered that the small vineyard in California is actually the oldest continuously producing planting of Cinsault, and was planted in 1885. For more information, here is an interesting article by W. Blake Gray.

Q4: True or False: Cinsault is one of the 30 most planted grapes in the world

A4: True. According to the statistics of 2010, Cinsault was 25th most planted grape in the world with slightly less than 50,000 acres planted worldwide.

Q5: Considering Cinsault plantings worldwide, sort the countries below from the largest area plantings to the lowest:

a. Algeria, b. France, c. Morocco, d. South Africa

A5: France (about 20,000 acres), Algeria (about 7,500 acres), Morocco (about 3,500 acres), South Africa (about 2,000 acres).

Talking about the results, somehow this quiz had very low participation – may be the subject of somewhat obscure grape, may be the snow, but something got in the way of hundreds of people who I know wanted to play. Anyway, there is a next time for everything. But – one person attempted to solve the quiz, so I would like to acknowledge Suzanne of apuginthekitchen, as this also was her first participation in the wine quizzes here – well done!

And now, to the interesting news around the vine and the web!

First, I would like to remind everybody that the deadline for #MWWC7 is rapidly approaching – only 12 days are left until the deadline. Are you devoted to wine something or someone? Get your passion flowing, devote some time, pour yourself a glass of wine (want a “brute force” solution? find the bottle of Dowsett Family Wines Devotion Red and just do the review), but really, it is time to get more devoted to the #MWWC7. For all rules and regulations, please check SAHMMelier’s blog post.

Do you know what OTBN stands for? Need another two seconds? Okay. OTBN stands for Open That Bottle Night – the movement started by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, brilliant wine columnists writing the wine column for Wall Street Journal for many years. The idea of OTBN is that all of us have our “special bottle(s)” waiting for the special moment(s) to be open. And for the sake of the wine – and our own sake – in many cases it is better for the wine and for the people to have that special bottle opened rather sooner than later. OTBN is meant to encourage people to open and enjoy that special bottle. OTBN is celebrated during the last Saturday of February, thus OTBN 2014 will be taking place on February 22nd  – here you can find the full calendar of all past OTBN events. Start thinking about that special bottle of wine you will open – that is definitely a fun part of the experience.

Quick question – how much are you willing to pay for the cocktail? Okay, $11.95, of course. What are you saying? You can sometimes splurge the whole $30, especially if you are in the best New York hotel? Okay, sure, make sense. So, how about $50,000? Shocked? Absurd, you are saying? Yes, I’m with you – it is an absurd all the way if you ask me, but apparently someone found it quite palatable to pay $50K for the diamond studded glass filled with Hennessy Richard (most exquisite cognac made by Hennessy). I wonder if he got to keep the glass… Hope he did. To make it more fun, before you read the story, try to think about the place (city?) in the world where someone will pay $50K for the cocktail. Here is the link to the article about that $50K extravaganza.

That’s all I have for you for today. The glass is empty – but the refill is on its way. Cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #91: Grape Trivia – Cinsault

February 1, 2014 4 comments

 

Cinsault Grapes. Source: Wikipedia

Cinsault Grapes. Source: Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus still on the red grapes, and today’s subject is Cinsault – for the French purists, we should drop an “l” there and call the grape Cinsaut.

At first, I wanted to call Cinsault an “unsung hero”, but I don’t think it would be the right way to put it. Yes, about 20 years ago, Cinsault plantings in France were exceeding those of Cabernet Sauvignon – but this was 20 years ago. Cinsault is best known for 2 things: it is a blending grape in many of the Rosé wines in Provence and Languedoc, and it is a father (or mother, if you prefer) of Pinotage – the unique South African grape we talked about last time. Cinsault is a black-skinned, early ripening grape which has a tendency to overproduce, easily yielding 6 – 10 tons of grapes per acre (high yield typically means less flavor in each grape). When the yield is controlled at 2 – 4 tons, Cinsault produces very aromatic, fragrant grapes. Cinsault grapes also naturally low in tannin but impart good color, which makes them well suited for Rosé production.

While the biggest Cinsault plantings are still located in France, the grape is growing all other the world – Algeria, Chile, Italy, Morocco, South Africa, Turkey, United States and number of other countries have Cinsault plantings. What is interesting to note that today, when winemakers are constantly in the quest to produce unique and different wines, the  single grape red (!) Cinsault bottlings from Chile, South Africa and the United States from the last few vintages have wine critics and writers rave about beautiful, fresh and elegant characteristics of the wines. I think we didn’t see the last of Cinsault yet.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Name 3 grapes, traditional blending partners of Cinsault in Provençal Rosé

Q2: In which US state the history of winemaking is associated with Cinsault?

a. Oregon

b. Texas

c. Virginia

d. Washington

Q3: The oldest continuously producing Cinsault vineyard in the world is located in:

a. Algeria

b. France

c. South Africa

d. United States

Q4: True or False: Cinsault is one of the 30 most planted grapes in the world

Q5: Considering Cinsault plantings worldwide, sort the countries below from the largest area plantings to the lowest:

a. Algeria

b. France

c. Morocco

d. South Africa

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!

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