When I reach for a bottle of wine from Southern France, I'm often reaching for a bottle of Gigondas. A small appellation at the feet of the Dentelles in the Southern Rhone Valley, this area provides the same Grenache-based blends that one had come to expect from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but at 1/3 or 1/4 the price. There is also a grace a beauty to the wines of Gigondas that you don't necessarily find in many Chateauneufs.
I recently tasted 6 of the top ranked Gigondas wines at Walt Churchill's Market in Ohio. Most of the wines cost between $30-$45 (one was more) and all had received critic reviews comparable to Chateauneufs between $70-150. They are all worth seeking out.
Guigal 2010 Gigondas. $32.99 OH Retail. "Really pretty red fruit with gentle amount of spice. Not a big structure here, but a wine that will appeal to California Pinot Noir drinkers or fans of modernist Spanish wine." 90 Points.
Domaine du Cayron 2008 Gigondas. $34.99 OH Retail. "The oldest and most traditionally made of the Gigondas I tasted. Aromatics are dark fruit with stone, tar, and briar patch herbaceousness. The wine is medium full with blackberry jam flavors and gentle tannins that hint at cocoa. The finish really lingers." 95 points.
Alain Jaume 2009 Gigondas 'Terrasses de Montmirail.' $34.99 OH Retail. "Dark red color. Palate is fresh blueberries and blackberries. Full bodied modern luscious wine. with tannins that grip the sides of your mouth. Very long and heavy finish." 92 Points.
Domaine Bertrand Stehelin 2010 Gigondas. $33.99 OH Retail. "Dark purple/black color. A nose of grape jelly melting on a stone. This is a dark, dry, brooding, tannic wine. It is the most similar to a Chateauneuf and also the wine most in need of serious time in the cellar. You can tell quality is there." 94 Points.
Chateau de Saint-Cosme 2011 Gigondas. $42.99 OH Retail. "There is a reason that Saint-Cosme is so esteemed by Gigondas fans. This was a beautiful wine. The quality of the flavors and aromas spoke of refinement and elegance. Three things stood out to me. 1) Purity of the red strawberry/plum fruit. 2) Hints of premium cured meat like Prosciutto. 3) An ever present since of the earth and minerality. Superb wine and great value." 96 Points.
Chateau de Saint-Cosme 2011 Gigondas 'Les Claux.' $79.99 OH Retail. "I almost weep when I taste a wine this good at this price, because this single-vineyard 100+ year old vine Grenache, is heading for the world of the unaffordable. Red fruits and animal bloods mix over a complex cocktail of stones. Both elegant and wild like a high-class seductress from a James Bond movie. And it still will get better, the tannins are powerful and dominate your mouth on the crazy long finish." 98 Points.
I definitely recommend seeking these wines, and other Gigondas, when you are looking for superb wines from France that delivery superstar quality without the high price tag.
Also, if you want to learn more about the Gigondas region, I'll include a link to pick up the definitive work on Gigondas. It's out of print, but you can still buy it used. Enjoy.