Everything Gourmet

A Gourmet Gazette Fine Wine Find: A Great Gigondas

The sun-drenched vineyards of the Brusset estate in Gigondas. Photo courtesy Domaine Brusset. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

It is one of the noble wines of France. Powerful, aromatic and of a brilliant ruby red bordering on deep purple. Gigondas emanates from the Rhone River Valley, that 100-mile stretch of land running south from Lyons to close to Avignon. A region that produces some of the best red wines in all the land. The Gigondas vineyard sits on the northern slope of the celebrated good earth of the Dentelles de Montmirail on the Left Bank of the mighty Rhone River between Orange and the Ventoux mountains. Dentelles means lace in French and the peaks rise up looking like lace. They were formed from Jurassic era limestone, a limestone that sits in their foothills as the sun-drenched Gigondas vineyard does. The good earth of clay and limestone, the sun and the setting all impart upon Gigondas its thoroughly original character. As does the winemaker. It is here that the Domaine Brusset wine estate works its magic. 

Laurent Brusset of the Brusset wine estate in the Rhone Valley in the aging room of the estate with the oak casks. Photo courtesy Domaine Brusset. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The house has been in the Brusset family since 1947 and today has been under the helm of Laurent Brusset, the third generation, since 2008. The house produces a selection of the great wines of the Rhone like Gigondas, Cairanne and Rasteau among others. Their Gigondas vineyard is nothing short of spectacular, spread out over nearly 100 acres (40 hectares) that are made up of 44 acres (18 hectares) of vine plants growing on 68 terraces of Jurassic and Triassic limestone-clay soils.  The terraces of the Brusset wine estate are among the most dramatic in the Gigondas. The vineyard has been certified with the French label HVE which is the French acronym indicating that the estate has embarked upon practices that respect the environment. 

The terraced vineyards of the Brusset estate in Gigondas. The lacy Dentelles de Montmirail mountains can be seen in the background.Photo courtesy Domaine Brusset. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The house recently brought out its splendid Les Hauts de Montmirail 2020 Gigondas AOP (the French acronym for a controlled designation of origin). The wine is made with grapes grown on the estate’s highest terraces, and so the “Les Hauts”, meaning the heights. The grapes are hand picked and rigorously selected and the wine is partially aged in French oak casks. It is powerful, highly aromatic and spicy and fruity, a flavor that brought to mind violets. Made with a blend of the region’s traditional grape varieties — Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah— this is a powerful, serious wine that can be paired with powerful dishes like game, leg of lamb and cheeses. The publisher of The Gourmet Gazette, Sylvain Loire, who is also a retired French chef prepared a textbook coq au vin, a powerful wine-based dish. The meat was marinated in a Volnay 1er Cru and simmered to state-of-the-art perfection. This was followed up with a good raw milk Brie de Meaux that proved to be a perfect companion to the Domaine Brusset Les Hauts de Montmirail 2020 Gigondas AOP.

The Les Hauts de Montmirail 2020 Gigondas AOP from the Brusset estate. Photo courtesy Domaine Brusset. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

According to Pliny the Elder, the Roman author and naturalist born circa 23AD, Gigondas has always had a wine-making vocation eventually encouraged by the region’s monks and the bishops of Orange. The Gigondas wine traditionally was designated a Côte du Rhône until 1971 when it was accorded the AOP designated label of origin Gigondas, consecrating its originality and excellence. And its fabulous finesse. ©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette


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