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The Rhone Report


  • By Jon Rimmerman
    3/19/2008, (See more on Garagiste...)

    (STEHELIN Gigondas) Gigondas

    Dear Friends,

    This wine was a highlight of my trip last summer and it puts the Southern Rhone on notice that value can come at the top-end.

    In the world of contenders, Gigondas remains the ugly step child to Chateaneuf du Pape, rarely delivering the depth of fruit and complexity that the best CdP can showcase - all of that is about to change with the emergence of this new winemaker - a pioneer with some of the best vines in the Southern Rhone.

    It takes a dynamic mind to make changes while still capturing what makes a wine region different than its neighbors. The appeal of Gigondas has been its country nature without the stylized score chase that has plagued CdP in recent years (apart from Brusset and a few other producers in Gigondas, most of the district has retained the rustic and rough nature of the wines). Bertrand Stehelin is out to prove that Gigondas can be the equal of the high-end cuvees from Chateaneuf and this wine makes a bold statement. After a very good 2004 version, the 2005 is a statement maker, not for the scores it may achieve but for the purity, perfume and harmony that only centenaire Grenache and Syrah in this area can provide.

    The 2005 is like crushed, dusted kirsch with a dripping licorice shell that has layers of sifted tannin and (most importantly) elegance within the big framework. This is an adult wine with class as its first attribute, not the simple rusticity of Gigondas. While the country feeling is there, the wine is about much more and it is one of the more highly recommended bottlings from Gigondas in 2005. For the price, it is every bit as good as CdP on the $40-60 range and it is the first rung on the ladder to make Gigondas a prestigious region like their neighbor:

    Bertrand Stehelin: “This wine was born from old vines that my ancestors planted in days gone by. Following a manual harvest and a rigorous sorting, the grapes are vinified with the utmost respect of the winemaker traditions”.

    If you are experimenting with the Southern Rhone, this is a major new wine that should be studied as its best attributes are what the winemaker has left behind - the technology and toasted barrels (in favor of old-school methods, cement tanks and a reliance on the very best fruit in Gigondas).

    VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for top Southern Rhone value at the upper-end.

    This parcel has perfect provenance at about the same price as in Europe:

    2005 Bertrand Stehelin Gigondas (old-vine/battleaxe cuvee)

    Please give us your maximum number up to 6/person and we will allocate accordingly

    Thank you,

    Jon Rimmerman
    Seattle, WA


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