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Domaine Saint-Damien Gigondas – A Chateauneuf Alternative

If you love the power and depth of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but find the tariff (ahem) that good CdPs command to be a bit steep, then you may find its near neighbor Gigondas to be a satisfying value alternative.  Gigondas is made from the same Granache dominant blend with Mourvedre and Syrah typically filling out the balance.  Gigondas sits at a higher elevation than Chateauneuf and will thus often produce a wine that is not quite as heavy and will not always require the longer-term aging of a CdP.  The better wines from Gigondas express “garrigue”, a term that refers to the signature local terroir, variously comprising a savory earthiness as well as herbal notes such as thyme, rosemary, lavender, garlic and licorice.  
 
Domaine Saint-Damien is Gigondas at its best.  The estate is run by owner Joel Saurel and his son Romaine and has been in the family for four generations. (Saint Damien, btw, was Roman period Christian saint and there was once a locally famous chapel on the property dedicated to his memory).  Saint-Damien’s cuvées have become a reference for classic full-bodied yet fine and nuanced Gigondas.  Wine journalist scores have been consistent and high for every vintage.  Almost as popular as their Giogondas cuvées are their Côtes-du-Rhône bottlings for their concentration, balance and tremendous value.  The average vine age is 50yrs and they keep the yields low.  The estate is organic and the wines are bottled without fining or filtration.  Their goal is to produce Gigondas that is expressive of tradition and terroir.  They drink very well now with a little decanting and will develop for a good 10 years.  The estate Gigondas and Les Souteyrades in particular, both being not too bold, might make for a special Thanksgiving wine that won’t break the bank.  Please note we have limited quantities.  
 
Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas Vieilles Vignes 2017
Retail Price: $29.99
Use web discount coupon DAMIEN10 to get 10% off
 (expire on 11/17/2019)
 
Wine Advocate, 94pts. – “Scents of crushed stone, pepper and licorice lead the way, followed by intense notes of black cherries and tree bark. It's full-bodied, silky and long, with hints of chocolate that creep in on the finish. It looks suppler than I remember it being last year, and it's for the better.”
 
Jeb Dunnuck, 93pts. – “The ruby/purple-hued 2017 Gigondas Vieilles Vignes is a finesse-oriented, medium to full-bodied wine from this estate that has classy notes of dark fruits, kirsch, sappy flowers, and peppery spice. With no hard edges and beautiful balance, it’s reminiscent of the 2011 and will drink nicely for 7-8 years or more.”
 
 
Domaine Saint Damien Les Souteyrades Gigondas Vieilles Vignes 2017
Retail Price: $33.99
Use web discount coupon DAMIEN10 to get 10% off (expire on 11/17/2019)
 
Wine Advocate, 95pts. -  “A blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre, the 2017 Gigondas les Souteyrades—from a clay-based, north-facing site—is rich and earthy, with cinnamon and cola notes accenting dark plums and black cherries. It's full-bodied and velvety, adding hints of chocolate on the long finish.”
 
Jeb Dunnuck, 93pts.  – “Black cherries, garrigue, leather, and a kiss of spice emerge from the 2017 Gigondas Les Souteyrades, which is Grenache and Mourvèdre brought up in foudre. It's medium to full-bodied, has light tannins, beautiful balance, and a charming, elegant style. As with the other releases here in 2017, it's a seamless, layered, complex wine that relies more on elegance and complexity than overt power and richness.”
 
Domaine Saint Damien La Louisianne Gigondas Vieilles Vignes 2017
Retail Price: $33.99
Use web discount coupon DAMIEN10 to get 10% off (expire on 11/17/2019)
 
Jeb Dunnuck, 97pts.  – “I think the standout in the 2017 is the Gigondas La Louisiane, a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah from a single lieu-dit near the domaine, which is located further down on the plateau. Incredible notes of blackcurrants, smoked herbs, spring flowers, and peppery meat notes emerge from this full-bodied beauty that has terrific concentration, sweet tannins, no hard edges, and a blockbuster finish. It actually reminds me of the 2007 yet has more structure and focus. It's an incredible bottle of wine that will drink well for 20+ years.”
 
Wine Advocate, 95pts. – “Bottled in May, the 2017 Gigondas La Louisiane looks every bit as good as expected. Licorice, dark cherries and plums feature on the nose, while the full-bodied palate is silky and rich, just a wonderful balance of power and elegance. It should drink well soon after release and for at least decade thereafter.”
 
 
Past Cellar Selections:
San Leonardo – The Bordeaux of the Italian North
Find Value in Bordeaux Second Labels
Ceretto Barolo 2015 – Expressing the Terroir of the Langhe 
Chateau Léoville Barton – vintages 2010 (100pts!), 2009, 2000
Chateau Prieuré-Lichine 2016 – Classified Bordeaux, 94–96 pts.
Maison Leroy Bourgogne 2017 – $90 for a Bourgogne Blanc? . . . Maybe Yes
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey – Born to Burgundy
Eyrie Vineyards – Benchmark Oregon Pinot Noir
Domaine de Baronarques – A Mediterranean Mouton!
Chateau Montelena - New World but Classically Styled
Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou – Like a Rolling Stone?
Gran Enemigo 2014 – 98 pt. Cabernet Franc


 

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