2019 Domaine Gour de Chaulé, Gigondas “Cuvée Tradition” Rhone Valley, France.
This vintage of Gour de Chaulé’s Cuvée Tradition Gigondas is still a firm and youthful wine with an underlying potential for greatness and while slightly subdued at the start, once open this Grenache based Rhone red really turns on the charm with a deep sense of fruit and savory elements with a complex array of blackberry, plum, pomegranate and strawberry fruits, along with chalky earth, anise, lavender and a dusting of peppery spices. Gigondas, set up in the Dentelles de Montmirail, is blessed with the sunny Mediterranean climate and mainly clay and limestones based soils, the wines here can be fresher and certainly less costly than Chateauneuf du Pape, with cooler nights and higher elevation influences. The most notable vines in the region give an extra level of vibrant intensity to these heady and full flavored Grenache led Rhone reds. The average age of the Grenache vines planted at Domaine de Gour de Chaule plots is now over 55 years old and Stéphanie Bonfils, the winemaker here, ferments using 100% whole cluster with full stems in classic cement cuves for both primary and malolactic (secondary) fermentation(s) before racked her Gigondas into used large foudres (oak casks) to mature, for an elevage of about 18 months, after which she bottles her finished cuvées unfined and unfiltered.

I have been following Domaine Gour de Chaulé faithfully since the 2015 vintage, loving these wines and an admirer of vigneron Stéphanie Bonfils, following her mom’s absolute love of Grenache, continues to craft Domaine de Gour de Chaule’s Gigondas with that focus with 85% of the vineyards planted to Grenache, with about 10% dedicated to Syrah and Mourvedre, along with a tiny amount to Cinsault. This historic estate was started in 1900, but was not selling their own wine until the early 1970’s and not a serious domaine until Bonfils the elder got things rolling in the 1980’s, but since then has made a significant impact joining the greats of the region with traditional and authentic wines, joining the classics likes of Saint-Damien, Saint-Cosme, du Cayron, Grapillon d’Or, Montirius, Montmirail, Château du Trignon and La Bouissiere. The 2019 feels taut, though densely packed and textured in the mouth, with the whole cluster having a certain punchiness, gaining earthy elements and while a boysenberry core emerges with fine ripe tannins and lively acidity that gives a sense of structure, holding the weight in check. This is a wine that has a serious impact, but never feels too heavy or dull on the palate, especially this vintage, it’s a beautiful old school Gigondas. Not as ripe or expressive as the last few years, this brooding version has a long and rewarding life ahead and I am glad I got more than a few bottles to be patient with, I believe it will blossom in another 3 to 5 years in bottle and go 15 to 20 easy!
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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