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Must-Try Gigondas from Domaine Palon

September 23, 2019 Leave a comment

Domaine Palon is a small estate with vineyards in Gigondas and Vacqueyras.  The family has produced wine since the 1930s but only began to bottle under their own label in 2003.  The two bottles featured in this post are my first experience with their Gigondas.  I will admit to being surprised when I took my first sip of the 2015 Domaine Palon, Gigondas.  Gigondas can be a bit of a beast when young, yet the 2015 vintage is drinking very well with the cool, rugged nature of the appellation.  It is deep in flavor and already complex with earth and stones.  The 2015 Vacqueyras is very good too so perhaps this should not be surprising.  The 2018 Domaine Palon, Gigondas is a different wine.  It revels in clean, fresh fruit with texture on the palate and crunchy acidity.  It requires several hours to open up.  The elevage appears to have changed so I suspect this will be a different sort of wine in three years as compared to the 2015.  Grab the one which is more appealing to your palate! These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine Palon, Gigondas – $27
Imported by Misa Imports.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Aromas of spiced cherries and Kirsch.  In the mouth it immediately strikes a deep note with earthy blue minerals and very good maturing flavors from the start.  It is slightly spicy from the fine structure but it develops, showing Kirsch, spices, and cool fruit in the stone finish.  Dense yet beginning to mature, this is a wine to drink over the next decade.  **** Now – 2029.

2018 Domaine Palon, Gigondas – $25 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Misa Imports.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre of which 1/3 was aged for 6 months in foudre.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The grapey, concentrated fruit benefits from a few hours of air.  The wine reveals ripe textured tannins, creamy blue fruit, weighty flavor and deep black fruit.  There is a pebbly finish with crunchy acidity.  The wine is all in balance with a cool, fresh tilt.  Flavors of red and blue fruit oscillate with minerals into the finish.  ***(*) 2021-2031.

Random French oldies

February 22, 2019 Leave a comment

At an impromptu, informal gathering of several wine drinkers, I decided to clear out several oldies and offer one decent wine.  The 1975 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, Pauillac smelled passed prime on the nose and tasted as such in the mouth.  Others were more tolerant.  Up next came a pair of 1988 Gigondas which came from a cellar of oddities picked up by MacArthur Beverages.  I cannot say I drank 1988 Gigondas before, being a modest vintage, but these two bottles were obviously well stored.  The 1988 Guigal, Gigondas is the modest surprise, compact and still retaining a core of fruit. The 1988 Domaine Santa Duc, Gigondas has an edge up.  It is less fruity but more complex.  I would not seek any of these wines out but they served a purpose that night.  For Lou, I served the 1990 Olga Raffault, Les Picasses, Chinon.  It is a lovely wine, in full prime.

1975 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, Pauillac
Shipped by Rineau.  Imported by The Rineau Wines.  Alcohol 11%.  Advanced on the nose, it remains a bit stinky and is passed prime in flavor.  Drinkable I suppose.  Not Rated.

1988 Guigal, Gigondas
Imported by Classic Wine Imports.  Obviously well-stored.  Initially a bit stinky on the nose it cleans up with air.  A surprisingly rugged, pure core of bluer fruits and compact structure.  A simpler, modern style that provides decent drinking at 30 years of age.  ** Now.

1988 Domaine Santa Duc, Gigondas
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  More complex with a blend of cool blue fruits and structure.  Robust with mouth coating tannins and good acidity.  Evocative of Gigondas.  Less fruity but more expansive.  ** Now.

1990 Olga Raffault, Les Picasses, Chinon
A good, medium-body with some density yet there is also levity.  With mature flavors of earth, tobacco, and leaves there is still fruit and life to last a long time.  It slowly unfurls in the glass.  Concentrated in a way yet elegant.  **** Now – 2029.

Mature Gigondas for Christmas Eve

December 29, 2018 Leave a comment

I am indebted to Phil at MacArthur Beverages for selling me a few bottles of mature Gigondas.  The labels look a bit ratty as the Santa Duc was leaked upon and the Brusset is ripped but they came from a good cellar.  The fills and corks were spot on. I opened the bottles for our Christmas Eve dinner which included venison backstrap from two deer my brother-in-law hunted in Nebraska.

The 1989 and 1990 vintages in Gigondas, indeed in the Southern Rhone in general, produced excellent wines.  These wines are in fine shape, clearly mature, yet nowhere near declining.    They are evocative of fruit from cooler vineyard sites and rustic tannins compared to Chateauneuf du Pape from the same vintages.  The 1989 Domaine Santa Duc, Gigondas is my favorite of the pair.  It offers more fruit and fruit weight, which, when combined with the fat, earth, and leather, balances out the rustic tannins.  The 1990 Domaine Brusset, Les Hauts de Montmirail, Gigondas is fresher and brighter but does not have the depth of fruit nor complexity.  Both provided many hours of enjoyment, out of decanter, until the wee hours of Christmas Day.  It is a new reference point for mature Gigondas.

1989 Domaine Santa Duc, Gigondas
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This is a blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre source from vines averaging 40 years of age.  It spent 12 months in old oak casks.  Alcohol 13%.  Aromatic with earth and leather.  In the mouth are clean flavors of red and blue fruit made attractive by hints of round fat.  There are still fine and ripe tannins which lend to the rustic, Gigondas personality.  With air it becomes more blue fruited in flavor.  In fine shape with plenty of drinkable fruit and complexity.  **** Now – 2028.

1990 Domaine Brusset, Les Hauts de Montmirail, Gigondas
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections. This wine is a blend of 55% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre, and 5% Cinsault sourced from 25 year old vines.  It was raised for 12 months in 100% new French oak.  Alcohol 13%.  Fresh and bright with an edge of cranberry flavor.  There is lively acidity with the regional gravelly tannins in the end.  Tons of grip with minerals.  ***(*) Now but will last for many years.

New arrivals from Domaine La Boussiere

You will be well-served if you stock up on the latest released from Domaine La Boussiere. They are classically robust wines yet there is plenty of deep fruit and lively acidity which makes them attractive right now. For current and future drinking grab the 2015 Domaine La Boussiere, Vacqueyras. This is a fine value which should drink well throughout its life. The 2015 Domaine La Boussiere, Gigondas is properly the more structured of the two and will benefit the most from age. It is best revisited a few years down the road. You may find both at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine La Boussiere, Vacqueyras – $27
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 42% Grenache, and 8% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14.5%. Quite aromatic with fruit and floral notes. There is youthfully robust fruit which comes across as clean in flavor. The wine is mineral with ripe texture and a fat infused finish which eventually reveals the structure. Plenty of attractive, hard to resist flavor. ***(*) Now – 2028.

2015 Domaine La Boussiere, Gigondas – $30
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, and 30% Syrah sourced from 51 year old vines.  Alcohol 14.5%. A robust wine with blue and red fruit, lively acidity, and a mixture of minerals and baking spices before the finish. The structure is briefly noticeable before returning as it dries the gums throughout the long aftertaste. With air the wine rounds out becoming savory with blue and black fruits. Will reward a few years of age. ***(*) 2020 – 2030.

Three fine values from Gigondas

March 21, 2018 1 comment

All three 2015 Gigondas in this post are of fine value.  The 2015 Domaine  Le Clos des Cazaux, La Tour Sarrasine, Gigondas is well balanced all around with depth to the powdery fruit, notes of stone, and requisite structure for development.  And the price is low!  The 2015 Domaine Brusset, Tradition Le Grand Montmirail, Gigondas is classically firm and certainly requires age.  I particularly like the savory aspect and licorice note.  Finally, the 2015 Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Gigondas is impossible to resist for the earthy note already adds complexity to the blue fruit.  It even gets better with air!  You may grab these bottles from MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine  Le Clos des Cazaux, La Tour Sarrasine, Gigondas – $24
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre sourced from vines averaging 50 years of age.  Alcohol 14.5%.  A brighter wine of powdery blue fruit that forms a rounded and dense core of flavor.  The wine moves on towards black fruit and stones with the structure and astringency coming out by the finish.  With air the powdery flavors persist and a slight chocolate note comes out in the finish.  Good value.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2015 Domaine Brusset, Tradition Le Grand Montmirail, Gigondas – $
Imported by Simon N Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault fermented in vats and demi-muids.  Alcohol 13.5%.  With dry Christmas spices on the nose the flavors are cool and dense with black fruit and licorice.  It is a touch savory  with very fine, drying tannins.  It will benefit from a few years of age.  *** Now – 2025.

2015 Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Gigondas – $30
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre sourced from vines averaging 40 years of age which was fermented in concrete vats then aged in foudres.  Alcohol 15%.  A floral nose.  The firm start immediately offers some very fine structure as well as a good earthy flavor and blue, creamy fruit.  The finish sports dry baking spices.  The earth pervades underneath with clean yet firm fruit overlaying it.  With air this mouth filling and generous wine adds in potpourri and a little fat.  **** Now – 2028.

Cellar your 2014 Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas

December 7, 2017 Leave a comment

I am a big fan of Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas so I’ll admit that the 2014 vintage is missing some of the depth of earlier vintages such as 2010 and 2009.  The 2014 Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas is deceptively approachable but the roundness belies the fact that this wine is best left in the cellar for several more years.  You can grab your bottles at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas – $30
Imported by Michael Corso Selections.  This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with a good portion of Syrah and a touch of Mourvedre.  It is aged for nearly two years in casks and vats.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Tasted over two days it remains dense and smooth yet slightly textured.  There are still very focused kirsch flavors and a mineral finish.  It sports an attractive chewiness.  Despite the round, approachability this really needs more time.  *** 2019-2029.

A saline 1990 Longue-Toque, Gigondas

I cut my teeth on Gigondas when it first came to bottles of mature Rhone wine.  Though I have since been seduced by the complexities of Chateauneuf du Pape, I still get excited by old bottles of Gigondas.  At the time of the 1990 vintage, Domaine de Longue-Toque was run by Serge Chapalain the son of Roger Chapalain, who was once the Mayor of Gigondas. Roger Chapalain founded the estate in 1962 building a reputation for supple wines rather than rustic. Throughout the 1980s Serge Chapalain tried to bring back more weight into the wine than the vintages he produced under his father, making them more in line with the firmness of the region.  He blended mostly Grenache with some Syrah, Cinsault, and a bit of Mourvedre and Clairette.  Time in cask was limited to a year on average.  These efforts paid off for Robert Parker found the 1989 and 1990 vintages the best of the 1980s.

I, of course, did not read about this wine ahead of time so I had my doubts.  Since I have recently drunk both robust and bland Gigondas from the 1998 vintage, I was suspicious about even older bottles.  I popped and poured the 1990 Domaine de Longue-Toque, Gigondas to find it in fine shape.  There is a particularly attractive saline component, garrigue, and good fruit.  Some of that trademark suppleness might remain as a round feeling.  I would say the wine is just beginning to decline.  The estate was sold off in 1995 after which three cuvees were produced.  If you see a bottle of 1989 or 1990 you might as well try them as they reflect the best efforts of Serge Chapalain.

1990 Domaine de Longue-Toque, Gigondas
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a light to medium cherry garnet.  There is a distinctly saline flavor to the rounded start.  Initial flavors of cedar box and garrigue are followed by building weight coupled with an inky note and an ethereal aftertaste.  This wine is in fine shape with ripe fruit throughout that with air oscillates with dry, firm, red fruit.  It is starting to show its age but the slightly tart red fruit and fresh plums bring back confident.  *** Now.