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Gigondas


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A viticultural cousin of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas is one of the most acclaimed appellations of the Rhône, making big, bold wines that combine power and verve. The wines are often considered more tannic than those of Châteauneuf, though they are less charming and elegant. Gigondas' solely red wines classically express Grenache's powerful side, with chunky, heavy fruit flavors. The wines are similar to those of Vacqueyras.

Gigondas' vineyards are located only in the eponymous commune. Gigondas is only 1/3 the size of Châteauneuf; though still large, it makes 400,000 cases of wine a year, as opposed to millions. The smaller size is both a disadvantage and an advantage. Though it means the wines of Gigondas have less variety and at their peak are less impressive, there are fewer lower-quality offerings as well.

History

Winemaking here dates from Roman times at least, but details are murky; as early as the 1500s, Gigondas wines were being mentioned in literature. The wines noted were white, which indicates that this appellation has changed significantly in the past several hundred years. Gigondas was first part of Côtes du Rhône-Villages, but by the mid-20th century growers were realizing the soil's potential and in 1971 Gigondas AOC was formed.

Climate and Viticulture

The town of Gigondas is surrounded by a large mountain range with sharp, high peaks. Many of the best wines are made on the slopes of this range. The climate is warm, very Mediterranean, and similar to that of Châteauneuf. The soil type is almost always red clay, although limestone exists towards the top of the hills. Altitude is also a factor; vineyards from the summit of the mountain can yield completely different results from those at sea level.

Grape Varieties

Gigondas has some unusual rules and regulations. Main grape Grenache, which constitutes the majority of most blends, is actually limited to 80%, and is not even required to be included in the blend! Meanwhile, either Syrah or Mourvèdre must make up at least 15% of the blend. Despite the inconsistent rules, most producers do use a large amount of Grenache. The red wines made here are often full of black fruit flavors and earthy nuances such as chocolate and kirsch. They should be aged for at least five years and possibly as many as 20.

Major Producers

For its size, this appellation has incredibly consistent wines, with few lagging the field. We have picked out eight producers who really do something special with their terroirs.

Subregions

Despite its size, Gigondas has no notable subregions, official or unofficial.