Domaine Santa Duc Les Hautes Garrigues Gigondas 2015
Enjoy on its own or pair with garlic-infused mashed potatoes and celery root.
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Rising as a pillar of quality out of Gigondas’ soils is Domaine Santa Duc – an estate with a history that stretches back to 1874. Through six generations, the domaine’s caretakers have demonstrated a respect for the land. Santa Duc ascended to prominence starting in 1985 as a pioneer of organic viticulture in the region under the care of its indomitable vigneron, Yves Gras. In the 2017 vintage, Gras’ son Benjamin assumed the helm at Domaine Santa Duc, making his mark immediately by introducing biodynamic farming techniques and constructing a new winemaking facility on the property.
In his time at the head of the estate, Yves branched out to nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Rasteau, creating wines of exceptional balance and quality. He seamlessly integrated fruit from each distinct soil type into harmonious cuvées representing the Southern Rhône Valley’s unique terroir.
The estate wines are Ecocert-certified organic and Demeter-certified biodynamic. Working exclusively with indigenous yeast, the wines are partially destemmed depending on vintage and parcel and aged for 18 months in 36-hectoliter oak Stockinger foudres and 8-hectoliter terracotta amphorae. This estate integrates a thoughtful simplicity to the craft of winemaking that results in beautiful purity of expression in the elegant, focused, and polished wines.
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.