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Our tasting impressions
The color is purple and black. The nose announces the remarkable depth of dark fruit and Provençal herbs (garrigue). The tannins are firm but smooth. The power is evident in the mouth but takes a back seat to the precise balance of sweet fruit and acidity. It’s enjoyable now with food - as always extended air and/or decanting helps - but please cellar some for at least 5 years and surely longer. The 2012 tasted recently was just coming into a nice drinking window. This Gigondas is a great expression of the terroir and a wine of real soul. I prefer it to many very good wines from Châteauneuf du Pape.
About this wine
Gigondas vineyards rest on the slopes leading up to the Dentelles de Montmirail and the erosion from these mountains composes the limestone & clay soil. The elevation (up to 330m above sea level) and the dry soil force the roots deep to find moisture, absorbing all the minerals in their path.
The average age of the vines is 50 years but some are twice that. The grapes are hand-harvested & sorted, and a minority are de-stemmed. Yields are miserly - about 27 hl/ha.
Tradition is 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah & 10% Mourvèdre. Fermentation involves natural, wild yeasts. JB uses cement tanks, which he thinks best hold temperatures evenly and allow for some oxygen penetration.
The wine is aged for 18 months, mostly in a combination of old 228-liter barriques and 50hl foudres. Bottling (20,000] was in March, 2018 after light filtration.
About the grape blend
A typical blend, sometimes referred to as G-S-M. Grenache the preeminent red wine grape of the Southern Rhône, makes full-bodied, red-fruited wine. It enjoys very dry, hot and windy conditions but the vines produce scant fruit which means great concentration. The Syrah provides structure, savoriness and black fruit, while the Mourvèdre contributes length, tannins and floral notes.
Jean-Baptiste's view of the vintage
"2016 is one of the most balanced vintages here in the last 30 years, combining vibrant fruit, strong tannic structure yet roundness. An enjoyable vintage early on with promises to age and improve for decades."
On your table…
It paired beautifully with the Turkish classic, Hunkar Begendi (Sultan’s Delight) - chunks of lamb over smoked eggplant. Serve at cellar temp
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Cru
Jean-Baptiste Meunier (JB) is a fifth generation vineyard owner in picturesque Gigondas. But the name Moulin de La Gardette (La Gardette was the estate’s original vineyard) did not appear on a wine bottle until the 1940’s. Prior, many other crops were farmed and grapes were sold for use in Châteauneuf du Pape.
JB assumed management in 1988 after studying winemaking in Carcassonne and working in Napa Valley as well as close to home. The estate is 25 acres across numerous vineyards where he organically farms Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. He makes just 3 wines, Tradition (his flagship), Ventabren (a special, very old vine cuvée) and La Petite Gardette (younger vines).
He has a scientific air as he describes his processes and experiments. Yet you can feel that he makes wine as much with his heart as his mind. He is deeply connected to his vines and his cellar. This is evident in the profound and moving wines he produces.