Vail Valley Finds from the Vine: French flavor |

Vail Valley Finds from the Vine: French flavor

Jarrett Osborn
Vail CO, Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” Gigondas is a region in the southern Rhone Valley in the southeast of France. The appellation was separated from the more general Cotes-du-Rhone Villages in 1971, showing the French government believed the wines from Gigondas had special and unique characteristics. And so they do, more similar to Chateauneuf-du-Pape than to fruity and smooth Cotes-du-Rhone Villages wines.

The 2004 E. Guigal Gigondas exhibits typical flavors and aromas for this region, with dry dark cherry and berry, tight leathery tannins, and a racy, gamey note. But the Guigal also adds a dark streak, with cassis, tar, and graphite, giving this red backbone and structure. It is lovely now, after it opens up and softens up for 30 minutes, but will definitely improve with age, hitting its peak in two to four years. For tonight, decant it one hour before dinner, and grill lamb or venison. The game notes in the wine play off the game and spice notes in the food. Simple, eh?

Winemaker Philippe Guigal is the third generation of Guigals at the winery, founded in 1946 by Etienne Guigal. Guigal blends 60 percent Grenache, 25 percent Mourvedre, and 15 percent Syrah, and ages the blend for two years in French oak barrels, half of which are new. His father, Marcel, has been in charge since 1961.

Gigondas is an excellent alternative to Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The similar blend of grapes, and slightly less tannic and tight structure, allow one to drink the Gigondas earlier than the bigger, stronger Chateauneuf-du-Papes. The 2004 Guigal Gigondas is $32.

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