Size & Type
Gigondas is one of six village districts that for almost eight centuries formed the principality of Orange. The region itself has stepped out of the shadow of neighboring Châteauneuf du Pape, creating wines of intensity and flavor that are distinctly their own.
In former times it was overseen by the capital of Carpentras, but today Gigondas retains few links with its past administrator. A few documents, fortified city walls (much of which are still visible), the vestiges of the castle and the village’s coat-of-arms emblazoned with the horn of Prince Guillaume of Orange are the remaining traces that bear witness to this past.
Gigondas has more south facing slopes and higher elevations as well as varied soils than Châteauneuf distinguish the region from its neighbour. Gigondas vineyards have been producing wine since Roman times. The name of the village in Roman times was “Jocunditas”, Latin for “Happy Town” – surely an accolade to those early winemakers!
Gigondas is subject to the region’s contrasting climate of hot summers and strong, cold, northwesterly Mistral winds. The area is hot and dry, receiving some 2,800 hours of sun a year.
The turbulent geology of the Dentelles de Montmirail, which lies at the heart of the appellation, results in the varied orientation and sun exposure of its vineyards. The sharp ridges also create a microclimate with advantageous effects on the terroir’s wines. The abrupt peaks that jut out of the plain generate updrafts and downdrafts that moderate excessive temperatures. The morning sunlight is limited by the Dentelles de Montmirail. The west–northwest orientation of the majority of the area’s vineyards keeps the vines well ventilated, protects them from excessive summer heat.
These cooling micro-climates lengthen the ripening period allowing tannins and flavours to fully develop whilst retaining acidity and keeping alcohol levels under control. Here it is possible to make wines of elegance and subtlety.
The maximum permitted yield of the Gigondas appellation (36 hl/ha) is one of the lowest in France.
Grenache is king of the grape varieties in Gigondas contributing 70-80% of the blend for the region. In Gigondas, it can be sophisticated and elegant, dare I say Burgundian in nature with long fine tannins.
Used to a lesser extent, Syrah boosts the colour, adds richness and brings a certain aromatic intensity.
Mourvèdre enhances the spicy, aromatic complexity typical of Gigondas wines, adding perfume of flowers and violets, and a little structure.
Cinsault, Clairette and a few Terret Noir, Counoise and Picardan vines are also found here.
Blending these varieties gives the wines of Gigondas their highly nuanced, complex range. Each producer carefully crafts their wine in their own way, vinifying grape varieties separately or together, partially or totally destemmed, with maceration periods of 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the vintage and the choice of the individual grower.
The diversity of sites, soils, micro-climates and winemaking offers us a spectrum of styles from Burgundian to bold and structured.
Deep dive in to Gigondas in the Wine Bite Mag article “Getting Your Head Around the Southern Rhône Village of Gigondas.” The article includes an exploration of the geology, different soil types and how they shape the wines of Gigondas.
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