Mission Codename The Duc of Rhône
“Some of the most elegant and soulful wines in the Southern Rhône.” – Wine Advocate
Not only that, ladies and gentlemen… please welcome our first Martine’s Wines feature, ever.
And how is that a big deal you ask?
Martine was America’s first lady importer when she started her company in 1979. About a decade ago, The Wall Street Journal crowned her “A Wine Importer Who Turned Bottles Into Stars” pointing out that “Martine Saunier pioneered an import business that’s brought Americans some of the greatest wines of Burgundy and the Rhône.” She introduced us to Jayer, Leroy, Rayas… should we go on?
Instead, let’s focus on what’s before us, and in our glasses. A stunner, to say the least. Alluring from the first whiff to the last sip, this is the true essence of the Southern Rhône in one. There’s more red fruit in one glass of this than those pallets of red fruits stacked high at your nearest Costco. Plus, the ambiance of the entire countryside of southern France, with roasted herb garrigue scents, charcuterie platters, as well as mineral accents, and spices, all come together in the bright, seamlessly balanced palate that comes unfolding over a minute as the wine decidedly does not want to quit arresting your helpless senses.
I mean c’mon, 96-97 points aside, the man cut his teeth at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Vega Sicilia to make these wines, and IT SHOWS. It defines, class, and grace in one, like hardly ever seen in the same place this harmoniously. Just read the reviews…
Rhône fans damn well know that a Gigondas in the right hands can shame many a Châteauneuf-du-Pape or cult Paso Robles reds. Truly a desert island wine. Cheers to Martine Saunier, turning 90 next year, for discovering some of the greatest wines in the world, and sharing them with us!
And we all know it’s not going to be around for long…
97 Points – Jeb Dunnuck
“I loved the 2019 Gigondas Les Hautes Garrigues, one of the finest vintages of this cuvée under the helm of Benjamin Gras. Medium ruby-hued, with gorgeous meaty, peppery, Provençal aromatics, it needs plenty of air, and while it started out closed and reticent, it blossomed with time and shines for its purity and complexity. Full-bodied on the palate, with a concentrated mid-palate, flawless balance, and a great finish, it’s going to benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age and keep for two decades. Drink 2024-2046.”
96 Points – Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
“Yves Gras deserves full credit for pushing Domaine Santa Duc, his family’s property, into the upper tier of Gigondas, and the Southern Rhône, starting in the mid-1980s. Gras’ son, Benjamin, assumed control of the Domaine’s 26 hectares of vines and winemaking in 2017, pushing quality even higher. Benjamin Gras arrived at the Domaine following graduating from the University of Dijon and stages at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Vega Sicilia. The sixth generation to run the estate, Benjamin Gras is a restless experimenter in the cellar. Today, he makes ample use of Stockinger foudres and clay amphoras for all of his wines. In the case of the Gigondas bottlings, the result is wines of markedly greater finesse than those of his father, which could be bruisers and sometimes excessively oaked. This winery must be counted among the handful of great producers in Gigondas. Deep ruby. Displays intensely perfumed red and blue fruit preserves, licorice, exotic spice, potpourri, smoky minerals and cured meat scents. Stains the palate with sweet boysenberry, cherry-cola, fruitcake and black cardamom flavors that smoothly meld depth and vivacity. Round, even tannins lend shape to the impressively long finish, which strongly repeats the floral and mineral notes. Drink 2025-2035,”
What the Winery Says
2019 Les Hautes Garrigues Gigondas
- Benjamin Gras
- 50% Grenache, 50% Mourvèdre
- Gigondas, Rhône Valley, France
- Vineyard Site
- Les Hautes Garrigues
- Vineyard Size
- 2.8 hectares
- Average age of vines
- 75 years
- 18 months
- 36-hectoliter oak Stockinger foudres