Domaine Santa Duc, Gigondas, Aux Lieu-Dits
Broad, layered, lush and densely packed with dark fruit, spice and herbs, this is a superb wine from one of the Rhone valley's most exciting regions. Made by a Domaine that is equally exciting, they make this wine from grapes grown in eight single vineyards that are classified as Lieux-Dit, the Rhone's version of 1er or Grand Cru quality.
It is a wine that has beautiful and attractive dark fruit and herbal flavours in its youth and as it ages and matures, slowly, the tertiary notes of tobacco, spice and leather develop. It is a champion wine of the appellation and the wider Rhone region.
The low intervention philosophy in the winery result in a fascinating process with long gentle pump-overs, fermentation in stainless steel tanks and 14 months of aging in both amphorae and gigantic Stockinger oak barrels, followed by gravity-led stabilisation. All of this gives the wine its purity and clarity while preserving its stunning flavours and texture.
The vineyard areas are really interesting and ever-so slightly complicated, with each giving a different nuance to the wine: sand rich vineyards set in red clay and coarse gravel form four Lieu-Dits: 'Les Hautes Garrigues', 'Les Carbonnières', 'Les Rocassières' and 'Les Routes'. Sandy soil rich in red clay, gravel and marl from the 'Trignon' Lieu-Dit at Santa Duc's own property. Soils rich in fine matter, with grey pebbles, clay and sand at 'Les Pailleroudas' Lieu-Dit. Blue Pliocene marl from the end of the Tertiary period at the 'Goujard' Lieu-Dit, with grey marl from the Cretaceous period, which happens to be rich in limestone, at 'Le Clos Derrière Vieille'.
Simple, isn't it?!
Of course it isn't, but there is a sense that this is completely normal and that if you or anyone else wanted to be taken seriously in the Rhone, or in France we would venture, this is the sort of detail that you would be expected to know and understand for the best results to be achieved from your vines. And these vines are not straight forward either with an average age of 40 years. The age and experiences in the vineyards that they have managed since the 19th-Century that form this know-how and, in fairness, they have accumulated their knowledge with such evolutionary pace that their quality is not only unsurprising, but also well-set for the future.
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