Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Have you ever sampled 'GIGONDAS'? Here is your chance by Philip S. Kampe

What a wonderful day, today was---I started the three hour trek from the Berkshires (western Massachusetts) when the full moon was still out to attend a 1er Cru Sauternes luncheon with Bernice Lurton, owner of Chateau Climens, an estate in Barsac (France).
The estate dates back to 1547 and has had only four owners, the latest purchased by her father, Lucien Lurton.
I was in the company of six other journalists, most notably Ed McCarthy, known for the ever-so-popular ‘Wine for Dummies’ book and Bill Marsano and Morton Hochstein, icons in the industry and my writing mentors.
After sampling  the vintages of 1989, 2002, 05’, 08’, 09’ and 10’ with matching food at the renowned Café Boulud in Manhattan, I made my way to Rouge Tomate, a sixteen block walk,  for a ‘GIGONDAS Grand Tasting’.
My fellow journalists at Café Bouled tried to discourage me, saying words that my subconscious  somewhat agreed with: ‘How could you taste Gigondas after Sauternes? Sweet before full red-bodied wines?
Not for me, they said.
I explained that I was originally from New Orleans and am always up for the challenge.
Who would turn down the opportunity to sample Gigondas from some of the finest vineyards the Cru has to offer.
Fortunately, I listened to myself.
If you are somewhat foggy about Gigondas, you are not alone. The area is located in the southeastern Rhone Valley and is a neighbor of  Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a wine that is often thought as the ‘father of Gigondas’.
The region has a Mediterranean climate. The small mountain range, Dentelles de Montmirail, divides the appellation into two parts, one with a cooler climate, while the other is a bit warmer.
Elevation is roughly 2000 feet (600 meters).
Roughly 99% of the wines are red, while 1% are rose.
No white wines are produced in Gigondas..
The main grape is Grenache Noir, a hot weather grape, as evidenced by a wine trip I took to Spain. All reds must be made with up to 80% Grenache.

Secondary grapes are normally Syrah or Mourvedre.
The other grapes that are allowed for blending include Cinsault, Clairette, Terret Noir, Couroise and Picardan.
The soil consists of red clay and limestone from the mountain range.
The appellation produces close to five million bottles yearly, most under the $40 price tag.
Now that we know a little about the area, tasting the wines was the next order of business.
My palate was ready.

For me, it was a ‘speed tasting’, as my time was limited, due to my late arrival.
Essentially the wines have depth and finesse with a freshness you get from the Grenache varietal. All the wines I sampled were from the 2010,11’ and 12’ vintages. Most were in the range of 14% alcohol.
A common denominator was complexity, earthiness and dark, bold fruit.
I think I got it?
The consistency and depth of the wines held my interest.
My favorite producers included, Compagnie Rhodanienne, Domaine Brusset, Domaine de Cabasse, Domaine Cecile Chassagne, Domaine du Clos des Tourelles, Domaine de Font-Sane, Domaine du Grapillon d’Or, Domaine du Pesquier, Domaine Pierre Amadieu, Domaine Saint Damien. Domaine Saint Gayan, Domaine Santa Duc, Domaine du Terme, Vignerons de Caractere and Domaine Les Goubert.

In fact, on Wednesday night, November 20th, Quality House Wine & Spirits on 33rd Street between Park Avenue and Madison Avenue (212) 532-2944 is hosting ‘A Night of Gigondas With Domaine Les Goubert, from 6-8pm ($25).
Winemaker and daughter of the owner, Florence Cartier, will be your host.
Light Hors d’oeuvrs will be served with special wines from the vineyard.
Call Quality House to reserve a seat and let me know your experience with Gigondas.

Remember to follow the tasting with a glass of Chateau Climens Sauternes!

Philip S. Kampe


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