The wind-sculpted face of opulent Gigondas bears the marks of time, compelling our respect. Its features exude a soothing, reassuring wisdom.Christophe Tassan
“A unique protected natural site, with hillsides carved by the hands of men into terrain suitable for vineyards. The unique geology and the climate around the Dentelles de Montmirail mean that foregoing vineyards would be a sacrilege. The wines here have a unique character”. This is how the famous chef, Alain Passard, pays homage to Gigondas crus, to its wines, its soil, and its men. He adds that “I open a bottle of Gigondas and feel relaxed... it has to be enjoyed with company!”
And indeed: it’s a unique wine! Between Carpentras, Orange, and Vaison la Romaine, the vines nestle at the feet of the Dentelles de Montmirail, whose own “roots” nourish those of the Gigondas appellation: a wine that conceals many wonders. 630m high and 200 million years old, the bold and majestic grey limestone pyramids of the Dentelles de Montmirail embellish the “Nimes” fault and are well worth the visit.
But this geological novelty (a combination of phenomena from the secondary, tertiary, and quaternary periods) delights not only to the adventurous. The earth at its base provides unique, structured terroirs. It produces red wines that give off aromas of fruity kirsch that age into woody notes. The shimmering, complex, rosés bring notes of red fruits, almonds, and spices.
Concentrated, balanced, refined: Gigondas wines offer a rich bouquet with fine, spicy aromas, and a sun-drenched colour that ranges from ruby to dark red. The nose unveils a bouquet of red fruits (bigarreau cherries, crushed strawberries) and ripe black fruits (blackberry, blackcurrant, and blueberry). It develops wild notes that evoke woodland and truffles. In the mouth, Gigondas is full-bodied with a meaty attack. Its terroir is so complex that it can produce a range of aromas that goes from fruity aromas of prunes and figs, to white pepper, scrub, thyme, and liquorice. It ages well and becomes more refined over time.
By limiting exposure to the sun in the morning, the Dentelles significantly lengthen the maturation of the Grenache Noir (variety authorised up to 80%). The grape expresses its full flavour in glimmering red wines with pronounced tannins, a robust body, and a solid propensity for ageing. Syrah and Mourvèdre (15% minimum) strengthen the wine with their dark red colour and spiced aromas. All other grape varieties covered by the Côtes du Rhône appellation are authorized excluding Carignan, and the following varieties may make up to 10% of the wine: Cinsault, Clairette and some stocks of Terret Noir, Counoise and Picardan. For the rosés, Grenache Noir is also authorized for up to 80%, and all of the appellation’s other varieties, excluding Carignan, may be used, for up to 25% of the wine.
Gigondas has never been known by another name, but two theories compete to describe its origins. The first theory proposes that the name comes from gignit undas, or “springing forth from water”, describing this mountainous area that conceals a huge subterranean reservoir. The second theory states that the name comes from a Latin saint’s name, jucunda, or “joyful”. The name was taken either from Jucundus, the region’s first landowner and veteran of the 2nd Roman Legion... or from its favourable location and the fine hunting in the surrounding area... or even from the pleasure provided by the wine itself.
Historians do, however, agree on one thing: the site has been inhabited since prehistoric times, to which the discovery of domestic item in an archaeological dig attests. It is also certain that vines have been cultivated here since ancient times. While the veterans of the 2nd Roman Legion are credited with the creation of the first vineyards, the discovery of the vats used to store the wine provides another clue. Then there is the oldest written reference to the Gigondas vineyard, dating back to the 12th century.
As far back as 1591, Gigondas statutes record wine trade and regulate wine trading between villagers... and with the “foreigners” to whom wine must not be sold!
Harvests were first regulated in the 18th century, and around the turn of the 20th century, Gigondas wines distinguished themselves by winning medals in contests across France.
In 1956, in the wake of the severe frosts that ravaged the olive groves at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail, the hillsides were replanted with vineyards.
Quickly winning Côtes-du-Rhône Villages status, Gigondas was the appellation’s first wine to be awarded Cru status on 6 January 1971.
See the decrees granting appellation status (INAO)1971Birth of AOC Gigondas
The entire Gigondas vineyard is found in the Gigondas local authority, in the Vaucluse.
A hot, southern climate with 2800 hours of sunshine every year, contrasted with the prevailing Mistral wind that also affects the region.
The Cru’s soils are varied and composed of alluvial terraces of stony red clay from the Kansan period, leading up to the feet of the Dentelles de Montmirail. Their high permeability lessens the erosion caused by water runoffs and means that the plots dry quickly. The soils are rich in clay and characterized by terroirs that produce grands crus.
Eugène Raspail describes it best, “The landscape in the Gigondas area includes three main, parallel, chains that run west to north-east, following a curve whose apex would lie in the north-east. The watershed for these three chains is made from grey limestone dating back to the Jurassic period. On the Mediterranean side, the first line contains black clays from the secondary period. To the north, the third line is covered by lower Neocomian and Gault stage earth, green granite, and chlorite chalk. The two valleys (Col D’Alsau, and La Buissière) belong exclusively to the lower Neocomian period. In this second valley, near Cayron, clay marls alternate with banks of blue and yellow limestone“.
surface area1 228 hectares
in 201237 015 hl
- 99% Red
- 1% Rosé
Sales39 706 hectolitres
Exportation40% exported abroad
Average yield achieved30 hl/ha
* Export figures according to the most recent research
Source : Harvest statement 2012
Idée de recette originale : Gigondas & Mini pavés d’agneau farci !
C’est la pleine saison pour les tomates, alors abusons en, avant les longs mois de privation. Mini pavés d’agneau farci, basilic, tomate séchées, olives noires servi sur une épaisse tranche...Inter Rhône Read this article