Santa Duc Gigondas: Way More than Poor Man’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape
For years, and to some extent still to this day, people bought Gigondas for one reason: it brought the same pleasure as Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but at half the price.
It’s not entirely wrong. Both are Provencal wine regions that feature the Grenache grape – perhaps the best expression of the grape from anywhere (Spaniards will disagree!). The regions are adjacent. And it’s certainly true that in a glass of Gigondas you find the same fragrance – Provencal fragrances like sage and rosemary – the same weight and power, and the same complex amalgam of fruits that you find in Chateauneuf.
Yet, the terroirs are different, and so Gigondas offers something different. Chateauneuf is famous for its large stones – galets – that soak up the heat during the day, and then spreading warmth throughout the night. Gigondas doesn’t have these. Gigondas, instead, has gravel, sand, and even a bit of limestone. The soils are different.
Today, we offer to you a producer that is widely considered one of the best, and often the very best, of Gigondas: Santa Duc. They are a very old name in the region and they have many of the best sites. For a while they made wine in a plush, oaky style that one high scores from Robert Parker, serving to enhance their fame.
But Santa Duc has changed radically. Today, they farm all their vines biodynamically. They no longer use barriques, employing only very large foudres from Stockinger. There is still plushness, but also elegance and balance, and more expression of those soils that make Grenache from Gigondas different from Gigondas in Chateauneuf. Yes, they still get high scores (see below), and they are very much deserved.
Try these wines for a phenomenal Grenache experience, and a phenomenal Provencal experience. Just don’t think you will get a Chateauneuf-du-Pape experience.
Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas Aux Lieux-Dits 2019 $42.99
Josh Raynolds (Vinous): "Dark ruby. A complex, highly perfumed bouquet features ripe red and dark berry and spice qualities, along with incense and smoked meat hints. Conveys a suave blend of richness and energy, offering appealingly sweet black raspberry and cherry-cola flavors and a touch of candied lavender. The floral note repeats emphatically on the impressively long finish, which features harmonious tannins that fold smoothly into the wine's lush, highly expressive fruit. 95pts."
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