In honor of Earth Month, this week’s feature is Domaine Santa Duc.
Located next to Vacqueras and Beaumes de Venise in the Southern portion of France’s Rhone Valley, Gigondas is situated along the slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail, ragged limestone formations that protect the vineyards and extend the growing season.
Domaine Santa Duc has been owned and operated by the Gras Family since 1874. Originally grape growers who sold their fruit to a local négociant, 5th generation owner and grower Yves Gras decided, in 1985, to bottle under the Domaine’s own label and converted the vineyards to Organic agriculture. Realizing the potential of this region, Gras wanted to show the pure, wild terroir of the Gigondas plateau through thoughtful farming and minimal intervention in the winery. It was this progressive attitude that produced beautifully expressive wine that helped Gigondas emerge as one of the significant wine regions of Southern France in the 1990s.
In 2016 Domaine Santa Duc, already Certified Organic, converted to a Biodynamic model of farming under the direction of the next generation, Benjamin Gras. Earning a oenology diploma from University of Bourgogne-Dijon and working around the world with stages at the prestigious wine estates of Domaine de la Romanée- Conti and Bodegas Vega-Sicilia, the Famille Gras philosophy of respecting the terroir and natural winemaking endures into the 6th generation, with Benjamin at the helm.
2017 Santa Duc Cotes du Rhone Les Vieilles Vignes
Made of old vine (50+year) Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and ‘various others’ (Cinsault, Counroise, Carignan). Dark black and red fruit aromas with the underlying hints of lavender and thyme. On the palate, it has vibrant red under ripe berries that play nicely with the savory peppry note of syrah with coffee -like tannins. The finish is lengthy, if not with a though provoking bitterness. Jill’s Notes
Other expressions of Gigondas from Domaine Santa Duc:
Quantites and distribution limited.
2016 Domaine Santa Duc Aux Lieux Dits
This wine is a blend of the eight different parcels of Domaine Santa Duc’s Gigondas holdings. The dark but fresh fruit is forward with fine herbaceous notes. Cellaring will render the garrigue into a spicier finish. 75% Grenache, 13% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah and 2 % Cinsault.
2016 Domaine Santa Duc Clos Derriere Vielle
The Clos Derriere Vielle is a 3.4 hectacre Monopole on the slopes of Gigondas that was acquired by the Gras family in 1994.
The wines from this vineyard express a delicate floral and bright fruit nose. The body offers a pure fruit with mineral freshness and lacy tannins. 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah.
2016 Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas Les Hautes Garrigue
Les Hautes Garrigue is a lieu-dit (named place) that consists of 2.8 hectares on the plateau of Gigondas. This historic parcel has been part of Domaine Santa Duc for 6 generations dating back to 1874, when the estate was established. The vines are an average of 75 years old.
50% Grenache and 50% Mourvedre, this is a beautiful expression of Gigondas with spicy, licorice notes and chewy tannins. Accessible now but will cellar for up to 15 years.