free run juice

getting giggy with it

gigondas wineHere’s what I thought about Gigondas before last night: an area in the Rhone that’s a cheap alternative to Chateauneuf du Pape (which is southwest of it, and one of my fave wine areas in the world).

Here’s what I think about Gigondas now: YUM! And: more please.

Went to a dinner at the amazing Rouge Tomate last night, where 10 Gigondas producers presented 15 vintages from their area. It was an incredible 5-course meal with 4 wines paired with each dish. Yep, that’s 20 wines with one dinner, plus a bonus one from 1972 at the end!

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four wines, every course. rhone heaven.

Since we’re in the throes of football season, think of Gigondas as Eli Manning and Chateauneuf du Pape as Peyton. Eli’s the younger brother who isn’t normally thought of as the better player, but has moments of brilliance as he ages (maybe not this season, but the dude does have two Super Bowl rings which is one more than Peyton). Here are a few other basics:

1 it’s pronounced jhee-gohn-DAHSS

2 it’s in the southern Rhone, where blending is the main game. Grenache is the main player (all wines have to have at least 80% of it), followed by Syrah and Mourvedre. There’s a tiny bit of rosé made (literally only about 1%), and absolutely no white wine made. Pretty interesting.

3 common flavors are black and some red fruits (black cherry, pomegranate, raspberry), mineral (I got lots of silica), and earthiness. Everyone says they have a ton of power which is true for the younger ones, but most of the ones we had last night (which had some age on them – the youngest was a 2005) had far more finesse and perfume than I expected.

4 the major differentiating factor in the area are these mountains called the Dentelles de Montmirail (which means “lace of Montmirail”). They get as high as 2,600 feet and give a lot of limestone to the soil in the area, plus create some varied climates by blocking breeze and providing more or less sun exposure.

5 The name Gigondas has Roman roots. The town was founded as a recreational site for soldiers and “jocunditas means great pleasure and enjoyment in Latin. Obviously, that’s what the wine now gives us.

6 I stole the title for this post from my friend Lisa who went to the grand tasting yesterday. No idea if Will Smith digs Gigondas, but I was jealous of her caption.

Anyway, here were our courses with my fave wines from each:

amuse bouche: beet tartare with pumpernickel crouton, trout roe, and this amazing horseradish yogurt. Unexpected and killer combination.


appetizer: mushroom tartare with garlic confit, pickled mushrooms and potato crisps

fave wine: Domaine Grand Bourjassot, Cuvée Cecile 2004. Yummy cherry with funky barnyard, but not in the overly crap-smelling way, more in the “I just got back from riding my horse” awesome way.

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entrée one: sweetbread & tongue with rye berry and some other yummy things

fave wine: Domaine La Boussiere, La Font de Tonin 1999. Chunky black fruit with a tiny bit of rum cordial filling. Approaching ethereal. Marry me.

honorable mention: Domaine Saint Damien 2000. Pine resin + milk chocolate = super interesting.

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entrée two: Moroccan spiced duck with fregola, quince, olives, almonds and preserved lemon jus

fave wines: These were all 1998 and all insane so here we go:

Gabriel Meffre, Laurus 1998. Phenomenal dirt, sweaty and perfectly balanced mellow acid. Good time in a glass.

Domaine du Terme 1998. Hint of maple which was cool.

Domaine Cécile Chassagne (no relation to the Burgundy appellation) 1998. Spent tons of time with this one! It was like ginger powder, dusty pink rose petal, blueberry cupcake, with a cool silica mineral at the end. L.O.V.E.D.

Moulin de la Gardette, Tradition 1998. The guy next to me called it “exotic rosemary” which I thought was pretty on point (and awesome). Also got a hint of fruitcake, in a good way.

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cheese course: Comte with mushed fennel, pomegranate and black olive – really cool combo

fave wine: Domaine Les Goubert 1981 – guys, I was 20 wines in at this point. My notes suck. It was just awesome.

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bonus wine at the end: Pierre Amadieu, Romane-Machotte 1972. Finessed yet still had bold life in it, savory and elegant black cherry, tobacco all mixed in.

photo credit: cynthia sin-yi cheng

photo credit: @zacharysussman

Great night with some passionate French producers. Bravo.

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25 thoughts on “getting giggy with it

  1. Sounds like you had a great evening! I’m very jealous 🙂 I only recently discovered Gigondas (I bought it having no idea what it was) but now I’ve found it I love it.

    • Southern Rhone is great. My takeaway was to not just go for the cheap ones which is what i was doing with Gigondas. A little more money (or I guess a lot more in some cases!) and you get a much better wine.

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