Domaine Saint-Damien Gigondas Vieilles Vignes 2019
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
St. Damien was an early Christian saint (martyred in the year 287 A.D.), considered the patron saint of doctors. There was a chapel to his honor in the tiny hamlet of La Baumette, just outside the village of Gigondas, where Joel Saurel lives. M. Saurel’s predecessors took the name Saint Damien for the domaine.
Domaine St. Damien’s cuvées of Gigondas have become the reference for classic full-bodied yet fine Gigondas, with scores by all journalists being both consistent and high every vintage. Almost as popular as their high-scoring Giogondas cuvees, are their Côtes-du-Rhône bottlings for their intense concentration and tremendous value. Harvests are later and yields are low.
Joel’s son, Romain is becoming more and more involved in the winemaking. Their goal is to produce Gigondas expressive of terroir, tradition, length and balance—in short, the best of Gigondas.
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.