Special Feature: Saint Damien Gigondas: October 2023

As a thought experiment, could one simply offer the image above and a list of wines and say no more? Is there really any additional detail needed beyond what that kind of portrait and beauty conveys? The phrase, “A picture paints a thousand words” is most incredibly apt when it comes to the region and wines of Gigondas. But detail we shall provide as this is a region (and a remarkable producer) which deserves your attention.

Butting up against the Dentelles de Montmirail, the vineyards of Gigondas are blessed with a collection of diverse limestone and clay soils, sunkissed vines, and remarkable wines. In contrast to their more famous cousin of Châteauneuf du Pape, these reds are darker in tone with more intense structure and slightly rustic edges. They speak forth the soul of the Rhone.

The opportunity to taste these wines is yours and the producer we’re recommending this week is Domaine Saint Damien. Run by the Saurel family that has been tending vineyards since 1821, these wines are consistently some of the very best expressions of Gigondas you can find, and also often the greatest values in the entire region. Vinification at this estate is very classic with fermentation done in large old cement tanks under temperature control and aging done in large old foudres.

Vines at this estate average 50 years or more of age with low yields generating wines of intense aromatics and structural pedigree. The Saurel family bottles different parcels of their Gigondas wines to ensure that the nuances of the landscape are expressed most discreetly for the consumer that wants to learn and adore.

The 3 wines you must become familiar with are the Gigondas Old Vines, Les Souteyrades, and La Louisiane. The Vieilles Vignes (Old Vine) Gigondas is wonderfully classic, delivering spicy provencal herbs and peppery fruits on the nose, containing everything you’re asking for in a red from this region. Les Souteyrades is more finessed, with polished red to black fruits, aromas of kirsch and dark florals that enchant endlessly. Lastly La Louisiane is the boldest of the trio, whose structure and concentration is unmatched and fueled by it’s position on the higher terraces of the appellation.
A few bottles we highly recommend:

Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas Vieilles Vignes 2020 750ml $33 special, 7 bottles available
Jeb Dunnuck 95-97 points “Looking at the Gigondas releases, the 2020 Gigondas Vieilles Vignes doesn’t give anything to the two single vineyard releases and offers awesome aromatics, full-bodied richness, a round, lush, yet pure mouthfeel, and ripe yet certainly present tannins. It’s loaded with Provençal, garrigue, and peppery goodness, and it’s going to be a brilliant value. This cuvée is an 80/20 split of Grenache and Mourvèdre raised all in foudre.”

Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas Les Souteyrades Vieilles Vignes 2020 750ml $36 special, 36+ bottles available
Jeb Dunnuck 97 points “The 2020 Gigondas Les Souteyrades is also utterly brilliant. Giving up lots of kirsch liqueur, orange blossom, ground pepper, and herbes de Provence-like aromatics, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness and a layered, seamless, elegant mouthfeel that has awesome tannins as well as purity of fruit. It’s another sensational Gigondas to enjoy over the coming two decades

Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas La Louisiane Vieilles Vignes 2020 750ml $36 special, 36 +bottles available
Jeb Dunnuck 98 points “Moving to the 2020s, the 2020 Gigondas La Louisiane is an absolute blockbuster of a wine that’s up there with some of the best Gigondas made. Based on 80% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, and the rest Cinsault and Syrah, raised all in foudre, its deep purple hue is followed by a kaleidoscope-like array of kirsch, blackberries, ground pepper, violets, sandalwood, and other assorted Provençal-like aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, concentrated, and flawlessly balanced, I love its tannins, and it has a stacked mid-palate as well as a great finish…”

All Saint Damien Wines Available Now
ST DAMIEN GIGONDAS ROSE 2021 $21.90 23   Link
ST DAMIEN GIGONDAS ROSE 2022 $26.00 32   Link
ST DAMIEN GIGONDAS VV 2020 $33.00 7 95-97 JD Link
ST DAMIEN LOUISIANE 2020 750ML $36.00 36+ 98 JD Link
ST DAMIEN SOUTEYRADES 2019 750ML $34.50 34 96 JD Link
ST DAMIEN SOUTEYRADES 2020 750ML $36.00 36+ 97 JD Link
ST DAMIEN VACQUEYRAS 2021 $24.00 36+   Link