The vineyards of Gigondas (± 1.200 hectare) lie in the surrounds of the Dentelles de Montmirail (a unique mountain formation with stunning peaks formed by erosion). The idyllic village of Gigondas, which lies at an altitude of some 100 metres, affords a view of the vineyards, olive orchards and lavender fields in the valley below. The mistral wind that is such a feature of wine production here is an almost ever-present factor, and its howl can be terrifying. The region has a long history of wine production. Partly due to its unique location, it has undergone a quality evolution, from Côtes du Rhône to Côtes du Rhône Villages in 1996, to AOC Gigondas in 1971.
Roughly speaking, there are three types of terroir here, but chalk is the main component. It makes the Gigondas wines fresher, and more elegant than the Vacqueyras (and most other south Rhône appellations). The southern slope (the Mediterranean side) contains a relatively high amount of black clay and marl; in the north the soil is rich in calcium and sandstone. The plains contain alluvial deposits, and the wines produced are the least structured. The vineyards are located at 100-150 metres altitude, on the west-facing terraces of l’Ouvèze and the east-facing terraces of the Massif des Dentelles de Montmirail.
In general, the red wines are strong and high in alcohol (the area averages 2,800 hours of sunshine a year), have a meaty flavour and rich aromas of red and black stone fruits and spices, which are transformed into wonderful earthy, animal notes as the wine matures. The law prescribes the use of a maximum of 80% grenache noir and a minimum of 15% syrah and/or mourvèdre. The other approved Rhône varieties cannot make up more than 10%. The wines have an aging potential of ± 10 years (and longer in good years), partly due to the low yield (an average of 30 hl/ha in 2015, compared with the 36 hl/ha that is officially sanctioned). Only a very small amount of rosé is produced here (< 1%), and it should drunk when young. The appellation Gigondas was long undervalued, but in recent years it has been the focus of serious attention. Not lastly because the wines are an interesting alternative to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which has become so – some would say too – expensive.