Yves Gras, in his fifties, lives in Gigondas, an appellation of the southern Rhone, close to the Mediterranean. His estate, the Domaine Santa Duc, is situated at the feet of the Dentelles de Montmirail, a couple of kilometers outside of the village of Gigondas. Over here, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault are planted up to an altitude of 450 meters. It’s from this altitude and the lime stone soils that Grenache and Mourvèdre get their surprising freshness, typical for Gigondas wines.
It took some time for the region to create this style that allies power and elegance. The whole area counts some 1200 hectares of vineyards, even the small Rheingau is three times bigger. Only some decades ago, the wines were too simple to compete with the world-famous region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, only about half an hour drive away from here. Just like the wines from the norther Rhone, that were playing in another league...
The reason for the success of Gigondas? For Yves Gras there is no doubt.
«We have abandoned mass production and drastically lowered the yields.»
That sounds easy, but it wasn’t. Yves Gras remembers well have his friends laughed about his first small harvest in the early nineties.
«They thought I had gone mad»
But even though he approached the yields of Châteauneuf-du-Pape with only 30 to 40 hectoliters per hectare, there was no way to ask the same price per bottle as his famous neighbor.
«The beginnings were very hard», says Yves Gras.
Low yields have been generalized since then, and Gigondas has become synonym for powerful and complex reds with an excellent capacity for aging. The 2010 vintage perfectly shows their excellent quality-pleasure ratio. Climate conditions of this vintage indeed were ideal for a perfect balance between power and finesse, typical for Gigondas.
The Gigondas Hautes Garrigues 2010 of Yves Gras show the whole potential of wines from the region: Red fruit with a little caramel, herbs and tannins, and a powerful body with a fresh and fine core/heart.