Our tasting impressions
While tasting Moulin de La Gardette's flagship wine, Tradition, it is hard to imagine that a Gigondas could have more depth and more complexity. But, then there's Ventabren, which also raises the bar for sophistication and length. This is a monumental wine that is poised for greatness. Truly cellar-worthy. Drinkable now with ample air-time but, oh man, is the best yet to come!
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.
Jean-Baptiste selects grapes from his his oldest vines at the highest elevations for Ventabren. Most are between 80-100 years old, with some planted in 1901. The soil is sandstone and marl.
The cépage is 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah & 10% Cinsault all picked manually. Mostly whole bunches are used though some may be partially de-stemmed. Fermentation is over 3 weeks with natural, wild yeasts. He punches down the cap and pumps over.
The wine is aged for 18 months in 50hl foudres. About 7,700 bottles are produced after a 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
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 and the Cinsault softens the tannins and boosts the fruity aromas.
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.