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Gigondas: Sound your S, and your GSM
If you speak French like I speak French - mostly self-taught food, wine and tourist terms picked up along the way - you probably get as confused as I do about its unfamiliar ways. The gargled "r," that nasal "n," the liaison that runs words together when you least expect it; and all those consonants that get dropped off the end of words!
In Southern France, though, we get a break from some of those dropped consonants, which of course just makes things more confusing. Take today's featured wine, for instance: Gigondas. That's "Gee-gawn-dah," right? Drop the final consonant?
Nope! Thanks to the ancient language roots of Provence and neighboring Languedoc across France's Mediterranean coast, that "ess" gets sounded full and proud: "Gee-gawn-DASS." Do the same, by the way, with the Southern French "Mas" ("house") as in the pricey wine Mas de Daumas Gassac, which is spoken in those parts with all the sibilance of a hissing snake.
Enough about language, though. How does it taste? I'd say "Delicious," with full sound on the final "s." Gigondas, one of the many wine villages of the Southern Rhône, is a near neighbor of the storied Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Like Châteauneuf, Gigondas may be made from any combination of 13 regional grapes but tends to focus primarily on just three: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, commonly abbreviated as "GSM." Pronounce all three of those initials, please!
Today's featured wine, Domaine du Cayron 2010 Gigondas, made by Michel Faraud and his daughters, is a very fine wine from an exceptional vintage for the region. A GSM blend with a plus, it's 70% Grenache,14% Syrah and 1% Mourvèdre, with an additional 15% Cinsault.
Frankly, it's more of a wine for cellaring than for drinking up soon, although I made that sacrifice on your behalf. Now it remains "closed," waiting for a few more years of cellar time to foster its full evolution into maturity. Indeed, we recorked and set aside half of the bottle for another day and found it much more complex and interesting after this extended exposure to air.
If you try it, I suggest that you do the same: Pour out a glass on the first night to sample for the sake of science; but if you find it harsh and astringent, pop the cork back in and let the rest of the wine commune with the air space you've left in the bottle for a few days. I think three days to a week of this "breathing" will serve it well.
Wine Focus: Châteauneuf du Pape and GSM Blends
You're invited to share your GSM experiences with the WineLovers Discussion Group in January's Wine Focus, where we're discussing all the world's Grenache, Syrah and Mourvère blends from Châteauneuf-du-Pape through the Rhône, Provence and Languedoc and around the world, every place that this splendid mix is honored.
Pay your money and take your choice, and come join us in Wine Focus: Châteauneuf du Pape & GSM Blends.
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Today's Tasting Report
Domaine du Cayron 2010 Gigondas ($34.99)
Clear dark garnet shading to a clear edge. Pleasant Rhône aromas, berries and leather and dried mixed herbs, leading into a dry, tart and tannic flavor with hints of clay and stony minerality. It carries its 14% alcohol well. It's 70% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 14% Syrah and 1% Mourvèdre. U.S. importer: Vanguard Wines LLC, Columbus, Ohio. (Jan. 9, 2014)
FOOD MATCH: GSM is made to accompany rare red meat, steak or roast, beef or lamb, game or even grilled poultry or duck. It works well, too, with plant-based dishes brought up to meet a red; it was a big winner with a "meaty" red-lentil curry with browned onions and lima beans.
WHEN TO DRINK: Great vintages of Gigondas - including 2010 - can last for 20 years or more, assuming, always, excellent and undisturbed cellar conditions around 55F (13C). It was really a shame to drink this one so young, although as noted, the strategy of setting it aside in the recorked bottle for several days did make it more approachable.
VALUE: Gigondas isn't a cheap wine, but it falls into the "sweet spot" where higher price purchases memorable wine worth contemplating or cellaring for the future. That said, my local $35 price tag was a bit dear, as Wine-Searcher.com reports a $30 median for Cayron Gigondas with some vendors offering it for $25.
WEB LINK: Here's a short report on Domaine du Cayron, with links to fact sheets on the 2010 and 2011 Gigondas, from regional importer Michael Skurnik Wines.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and compare prices for Domaine du Cayron Gigondas on Wine-Searcher.com.
Looking for something a little less pricey? Check out these links to 500 French Southern Rhône blends on Wine-Searcher.com.
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