2019 Domaine Saint-Damien, Gigondas, Les Souteyrades, Vieilles Vignes, Rhone Valley, France.
The fabulous and sultry Grenache based 2019 Saint-Damien Les Souteyrades Gigondas has layers of black raspberry, boysenberry, plum and grenadine on the full bodied palate along with that anise, floral incense, baked cherry, chalky stones and peppery spices. This vintage is less gamy/earthy than the prior couple of years and there is a thrilling sense of energy and an exceptional sense of purity in this dark purple/garnet Rhone red, the good dose of Mourvedre does add a meaty and savory dimension to this outstanding version, making for wine that way over delivers for the price, competing with Chateauneufs that go for three times the cost of this Saint-Damien single Lieu-Dit bottling. This winery has become a must have to satisfy my personal Grenache and Rhone habit, along with Saint-Cosme’s legendary Gigondas. The aromatics and mouth feel are really seductive, and air only brings more excitement and complexity here with a heady mix of dark florals and grenadine going to the fore. The underpinning tannin is sweet, but there is some serious structure to this Les Souteyrades, this wine has tremendous potential for long term cellaring and is a savvy buy for bargain hunters. The winery is named after St. Damien, who was an early Christian saint considered the patron saint of doctors, and was an ancient chapel honoring him in the tiny hamlet of La Baumette, just outside the village of Gigondas, where Joel Saurel has his Saint-Damien cellars, hence the name his family used for the domaine. This is a killer bottle of wine, it thrills and completely pleases the senses and is a wine that lacks for nothing, glad I bought a few to enjoy now and into the future.

Joel Saurel’s Domaine Saint-Damien is a top estate in Gigondas offering amazing set old vine wines classical crafted by Joel’s son, Romain who now is becoming more and more involved in the winemaking at this famous winery. Saint-Damien has many old vine cuvées, though mainly known Gigondas, also does a lovely Cotes du Rhone, as well as a Gigondas Rosé that is in high demand. The Vieilles Vignes Gigondas lieu-dit “Les Souteyrades” sits on a small hill with the vineyard being a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre (and the wine here is the same percentage) with the main plot consisting of old Grenache Noir vines, that were planted back in 1948 and 38 year old Mourvèdre vines that are set on an outcropping of pure grey clay soils with a scattering of stones. This cru site makes for deep fruit intensity and rich concentration, which this gorgeous 2019 shows with flamboyant hedonism in the glass. The Saint-Damien “Les Souteyrades” Gigondas is fermented traditionally with old school techniques with a long maceration, lasting for between 6 to 8 weeks on the skins, in concrete vats before moving to large oak foudres for about a year. This unfined and unfiltered and native yeast fermented cuvée sees all from organic grapes that are carefully hand picked and sorted to best show off the terroir here and while hefty and close to 15% natural alcohol, this Les Souteyrades doesn’t feel hot or flabby, in fact the balance is fantastic. This entertaining and rewarding Southern Rhone wine deserves a big robust meal to allow all its pleasures to shine through, and this vintage never puts a foot wrong, it is close to perfection in every way, I highly recommend these Saint-Damien 2019s, especially this one, along with their “La Louisiane” that has become their signature wine.
($38 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

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