Everybody talks about Chateauneuf-du-Pape when they talk about the Southern Rhone in France, but to me, Gigondas is probably even a little more interesting. Here are two reasons why: One, the wines are right there in terms of quality. Two, the branding of Chateauneuf-du-Pape is so vastly far ahead of Gigondas in the U.S. that the pricing of Gigondas is very attractive. In the video accompanying this article I tasted a Gigondas that rolls pretty deep in the $50 range, but there are many, many Gigondas wines in the $20 range and some even lower!
Gigondas is primarily made from Grenache, capped at a max of 80%. It must be at least 15% Syrah and Mourvedre. The bottom line is, if you like Grenache from other parts of the world, be it from Spain where it is called Garnacha, or from the "Rhone Ranger" producers in California, or from Australia where it is frequently blended with Shiraz, you owe it to yourself to try some Gigondas. These wines are muscular, in-your-face and unforgiving.
Some of the wine nerds out there will be mad at me for bringing more attention to the region. I always get a few hate e-mails when I talk about the lesser known regions like this that are over-delivering and flying under the radar. People say I'm ruining it. Sorry! I'm trying to do my job, which is to expand palates, and to help people find unexpected values in the marketplace.
For a few wines from Gigondas and other options from the Southern Rhone, click here.