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Wine of the Week from the “King of Gigondas”!

Santa Duc Vieilles Vignes 2007 : Wine of the week of the River Front Times Saint Louis, USA.

Whether in wine or life — and really, what’s the difference? — sometimes one has to remember to just breathe. This was the lesson Gut Check learned when we visited Bud Starr of Starrs (1135 South Big Bend Boulevard, Richmond Heights; 314-781-2345) to sip 2007 Domaine Santa Duc “Les Vieilles Vignes” Côtes du Rhône.

Gut Check and Starr discovered together the key to making this bottle a good buy: Let it air itself out for a half-hour. While we waited for the Côtes du Rhône to, as the wine saps put it, “open up,” we discussed the bottle at hand, as well as how the drinking scene has become more “fragmented” since Starr got into the business 31 years ago.

As to the bottle, we kinda broke our own rule by agreeing to spotlight a wine that costs more than $15. Starr persuaded us to bump up to $15.99 on the grounds that the ’07 is a very good vintage and this wine-maker, Yves Gras, is known as the King of Gigondas — Gigondas being a wine-producing district within the famed Rhône region of southeast France.

According to importer Robert Kacher’s website, Gras lives in the garrigue, an “arid, rocky section of vineyards that run north and south mid-slope between the Ouvéze and Rhône Rivers,” characterized by “roasted, dry soils” and wild herbs, sage and cedar. (With digs as ruggedly picturesque as all that, this king dude sounds like a match for the Most Interesting Man in the World.)

“Vieilles Vignes” means “old vines,” and it’s generally a selling point, on the assumption that mature vines produce superior grapes. For whatever that’s worth, in this case the vines are about 40 years old. The red blend is composed of 70 percent grenache, 25 percent syrah and 5 percent mourvèdre. Another selling point: This wine bears the imprimatur Côtes du Rhône-Villages, meaning it’s from an area that’s officially recognized as one step above your garden-variety Côtes du Rhône locales.

But first, what do the experts say?
Robert Parker says 87 on his hundred-point scale and this adjectival triumvirate: “Opulent, fleshy, and rich.”

Says Starr: “Medium-bodied, very structured, very dry, plenty of tannin, plenty of backbone, known for a jammy nose.”

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