Our tasting impressions
I can't recall the last time I enjoyed this much a young wine that is intended to develop slowly over many years. The youthful fruit is a revelation. Sure, it could shut down for a time, but all the pieces are in place for a glorious evolution. As I have said before, if there were more Gigondas like this, the appellation would be as famous as Châteaiuneuf.
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 vintage
Mild temperatures with lots of rain in the winter and spring plus reduced mistral winds equals high incidence of mildew and decreased yields, particularly for Grenache. But a hot summer and idyllic harvest season with well-stocked water tables meant conscientious farmers could wait patiently for properly ripened grapes.
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.
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.