Domaine des Bosquets Gigondas Reserve 2019
The Gigondas Reserve (reserve as of the 2018 vintage) comprises most of the production at Domaine des Bosquets. It is about 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 8% Mourvèdre and 2% Cinsault sourced from all the terroirs Julien farms. It is fermented in tank by natural yeasts with 30% whole clusters, then aged 12 months in French oak barrels of various sizes, then an additional 6 months in concrete. 2500 cases are produced in an average year.
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Leading off the wines from bottle, the 2019 Gigondas Réserve is a beautiful wine that readers should snatch up. A blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and the balance Mourvèdre and Cinsault that was 70% destemmed, it has a wonderful array of blackberries, black raspberries, Provençal garrigue, and violets. Loaded with sweet fruit, deep, rich, and opulent, it has sweet tannins and no hard edges. Drink it any time over the coming 10-12 years. Best after 2022.
Much like many of the appellations of the southern Rhône, the wines of Gigondas are based on the Grenache grape. It tends to rusticity if yields are not checked or if it is vinified carelessly. It is supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre with smaller amounts of various other varieties. There are two types of wine made in Gigondas, red and rosé, but the production of rosé is so small it’s mainly an academic point. Gigondas is red wine country. While you can find some white varieties in the vineyards, they are either bottled as Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc or co-fermented with the red grapes to make Gigondas red and rosé wines.
Domaine des Bosquets has deep historical roots in Gigondas. It was first mentioned as a vineyard site in 1376. Bosquets means “a wooded grove,” which is an apt name for many of the vineyards one finds high up in the Dentelles – isolated and surrounded by forest and scrub. The oldest surviving buildings on the property, constructed in 1644 under Jean de Rivière Seigneur de Laval’s direction, are comprised of a defensive tower, protective walls, and a solidly built provençal farmhouse. All have thick walls testifying to the need for protection against the cold winds of winter, the heat of summer, and the risks of living in such a remote corner of France. In 1674 the estate was inherited by the Chauvet family, who ran the property for many generations. In the 19th century, the estate passed through Eugène Raspail’s hands, who reorganized many of the vineyard plots and terraced portions of them. In 1961 Gabriel Meffre discovered that Domaine des Bosquets was for sale. Motivated by the potential and history of the estate and his love of his wife Juliette, a descendant of the Chauvet family, he purchased Domaine des Bosquets to bring it back into the family.
The property Gabriel and Juliette had purchased was in some state of disrepair. The earlier work of Eugène Raspail was unfinished but following in his footsteps, they completed the reorganization of the vineyards, most notably finishing the terraces that separated two vineyards sites that would become La Colline and Le Plateau. Many of the vines that exist today at Domaine des Bosquets were planted by Gabriel and Juliette, relying on their friendship with the Reynaud of Château Rayas for budwood to replant much of the Grenache and Syrah and expanding the plantings to the estate’s current size of 26 hectares. When Gabriel died in 1987, Domaine des Bosquets passed to his daughter Sylvette and Sylvette’s son Laurent Brechet. In 1995 Laurent built a fermentation room and cellar at Domaine des Bosquets – before that time the grapes were sent to Gabriel Meffre’s négoce operation in Gigondas and later they were fermented and aged at Château de Vaudieu in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The most recent chapter of Domaine des Bosquets’ history began in 2010 when Julien Brechet, Laurent’s younger brother, took charge of the property. With little in the way of technical training, Laurent sent him to Château de Pibarnon in Bandol to begin his training before finishing his informal studies at Château de Vaudieu. Julien considers 2015 to be his first independent vintage. While Philippe and Laurent were available to answer questions, he was left largely on his own. With each successive vintage that we taste, we are astounded that wines that were so remarkable when we first added them to our portfolio just keep getting better.
The Southern Rhône region of Gigondas extends northwest from the notably jagged wall of mountains called the Dentelles di Montmirail, whose highest point climbs to about 2,600 feet. The region and its wines have much in common with the neighboring Chateauneuf-du-Pape except that the vineyards of Gigondas exist at higher elevation and its soils, comprised mainly of crumbled limestone from the Dentelles, often produce a more dense and robust Grenache-based red wine.
The region has a history of fine winemaking, extending back to Roman times. But by the 20th century, Gigondas was merely lumped into the less distinct zone of Côtes du Rhône Villages. However, it was first among these satellite villages to earn its own appellation, which occurred in 1971.
Gigondas reds must be between 50 to 100% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvèdre comprising the bulk of the remainder of the blend. They tend express rustic flavors and aromas of wild blackberry, raspberry, fig, plum, as well as juniper, dried herbs, anise, smoke and river rock. The best are bold but balanced, and finish with impressively sexy and velvety tannins.
The Gigondas appellation also produces rosé but no white wines.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.