2018 Domaine Palon Gigondas
As much as we here at Waterford like to poke fun at French wine laws, we also stand up and take notice when they make a difference to small farmers. And Domaine Palon in the commune of Gigondas (JHEE-gon-DOSS) is one such winery where it’s made a big difference.
Now almost all of us know Chateauneuf du Pape – it’s a fun name to say once you get it down, there’s the cool embossing on the bottle, and Robert Parker brought it to prominence in the late 1980s. Yet if you look at French wine law, CdP is just one of a handful of villages in the southern Rhone, all at the same level of prominence.
While CdP got its big lift up to prominence from Robert Parker in the late 1980s, Gigondas got its promotion from the French government. As you can imagine, the French government is good at legislating and an American wine commentator was much better at advertising. The result? Gigondas is still very much in the background.
And the Palon family is almost as “new” as Gigondas – they started bottling their own wine in 2003, although they were grape farmers here since the 1930s. With this vintage I firmly believe that they, as well as Gigondas as a whole, showcases the rightness of the French government’s decision. Gigondas can stand toe to toe with any Chateauneuf, and this bottle shows it:
Like returning home from a hike in the snow while a black peppercorn-crusted prime rib has been slowly roasting in the oven, this wines nose opens with a heady, dense and compelling amount of aromas that will bring a pleased, warming smile to your face. There is everything you could expect from this Gigondas: black currant fruit, dried herbs, grilled plum, and more on the nose. On the palate it warms the body and blood. A single glass mellows out the chill, and the rest of the bottle pairs smartly with the meal. This is one deliciously body- and soul-warming red.
Worthy Gigondas may still be in the shadow of CdP, but this is to our advantage. For while Chateauneuf prices have soared, our Domanie Palon remains a fantastic deal. You will love discovering this southern Rhone star.
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