Founded in 1854 with 18 hectares under vine planted to Grenache (80%), Syrah (15%) and Mourvedre (5%), proprietor Dominique-Ay keeps things very simple at Gigondas’ (a highly under rated appellation in Southern Rhone) finest address – one red and one Rosé. The Raspail-Ay Gigondas reflects the appellation’s characteristics faithfully in an elegantly robust style which needs four or so years for the tannins to meld with the wine.
One of the great wine regions in the world. Situated along the Rhone river in South-East France there is a distinct divide between the Syrah dominant North where the Mistral wind cools and regulates the temperature and the hot lands in the South where Grenache is at its peak. The region produces everything from easy-going quaffers to wines that demand long-term cellaring. Whites can be outstanding such as Viognier made in Condrieu and Rosé makes a fair impression too
A personal favourite of mine. The very best wines have the density and power for Chateauneuf without the price tag, A maximum of 80% Grenache with a minimum of 15% being a combination of Syrah and Mourvedre. They can also have up to 10% of the other Cote du Rhone reds. Some rose production takes places here too.
Spain’s gift to the world; We know it as Grenache. I think everyone has a soft spot for it in some way. Almost too exuberant in expressing its sweet red fruits and high alcohol. It often needs other grapes blending in to add moderation, structure and depth, much like Abbott and Costello. Despite this, the wines of Priorat, Chateauneuf du Pape, Rioja and Aussie GSMs have a fantastic ability to age for the long term.
Also known as Mourvedre in France and Mataro in the new world. It makes a muscular, tannic, meaty, savoury wine. It is often the backbone of a blend, but in places like Alicante, Jumilla and Yecla it is the major if not only variety in the red wine. Aging can vary depending on winemaker influence.
A bit of a chameleon, Shiraz can change how it looks depending on the terroir and/or winemaker influence. The Syrah-based wines of Northern Rhone are dry and austere while the Shiraz of Barossa is opulent and fleshy. A variety that lends itself to long aging but can be drunk at any time of its evolution.
The land that some many New World (not European) wine producers look to emulate. To generalise about French wine, I would say it is savoury, lighter-bodied wines. They are the definition of elegant, complex. There are many styles, though. And there is a French wine for every palate. They lead the world in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Burgundy. Sparkling Wine in Champagne. Cabernet and Merlot in Bordeaux. Syrah(Shiraz) and Grenache in the Rhone Valley. Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris in Alsace. Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley. Gamay in Beaujolais.
Wine is the result you get from fermented grape juice. There is proof of wine production dating back 8000 years ago. Fashions, innovations and many other factors have influenced the way wine has evolved over the years.
The wine grape is special. It contains everything you need to make grape wine except for the yeast, which lives on the outside of the skins.
Human inputs can influence the final product, including the viticulture (growing) choices. And the winemaker can shape the wine to a point too.
The best wines of the world often refer to terroir. Terroir is a French term that refers to all the climatic, geological and topographical influences on a specific piece of land. And it is true that neighbouring vineyards, grown identically, can taste noticeably different.
Fun fact; most of the colour for wines comes from the skins. There are only a handful of grapes that have red juice. Alicante is the most well known of these grapes.
By macerating the juice on the skins, the wine gains tannins, and flavours. Certain compounds change the chemistry of the wine too.
Red wines tend to have higher alcohol. More tannin and more oak flavours compared to other styles of wine. But the thousands of grapes and terroirs they grow in influence this.