Uncategorized tasting notes
Tasting notes arranged geographically
Tasting notes from organized tastings and offlines
Vigneronne Thursday 22nd June 2000
The 1998 Vintage in the Southern Rhône and Languedoc has been hyped as one of the best vintages of the decade, so I was interested to whether this range of 1998 Gigondas lived up to my expectations. First, some background. The wines of Gigondas resemble those Châteauneuf du Pape, but perhaps with a bit more rusticity. They are usually dominated by the Grenache grape (but no more than 80% of this varietal is allowed), and must contain at least 15% Syrah and Mourvèdre. An appelation since 1971, Gigondas is permitted a low maximum yield of 35 hl/ha and must have an alcoholic strength in excess of 12.5%. Overall, there are about 12 000 Ha under vine.
Grenache is a grape which is quite hard to characterise: it does not have the prominent varietal characteristics of Syrah or Cabernet, and often produces wines that, while concentrated, alcoholic and tannic, are surprisingly light in colour. However, given low yields and careful vinification, this grape is capable of producing serious, herby, spicy, earthy, cinnamon-laced wines with good ageing capacity.
The main difference between the wines in this tasting, as you might expect, lay in the winemaking practices, and most particularly in the use of new oak. Traditionally, wines will have not seen new oak barrels but will have been fermented in neutral, old oak casks. However, as with many French regions, ambitious vignerons have been using a proportion of new oak barrels to age their wines in, along with other winemaking practices that result in higher colour extraction and pronounced flavour characteristics. I don't see it as a matter of right or wrong, just as a matter of choice. The picks of the tasting were, in the low-oak, older style the Tourelles and the Espiers (both cuvées), and in the newer style Les Hauts de Montmirail was a real blockbuster. Overall, I think Gigondas represents a happy hunting ground for those looking for characterful, good value reds with plenty of character and Southern charm, and the 1998 vintage certainly seems to have produced good, ripe wines across the board.
1998 Château Trignon
1998 Le Grand Montmirail, Domaine Brussett
1998 Domaine de Piaugier
1998 Domaine des Tourelles
1998 Domaine des Espiers
1998 Domaine des Espiers, Cuvée Blaches
1998 Domaine le Pallieres
1998 Domaine de la Daysse
1998 Les Hauts de Montmirail, Domaine Brusset
1998 Domaine Bourjassot
1998 Domaine de la Tourade, Cuvée Morgan