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A galet’s throw from the hallowed terroir of Châteauneuf-du-Pape lies Gigondas, an equally storied village whose special terroir flew under the radar for decades, thanks to its famous neighbor. That was until one producer, Château de Saint Cosme, transformed perceptions of Gigondas with their dazzling wines. Louis Barruol’s family has worked to define and elevate the terroir of Gigondas, crafting bold, powerful wines that have become known for their uncompromising quality.
With 15 hectares of vineyards in the heart of Gigondas, the Saint Cosme team has relied on its historical expertise, combined with biodynamic farming and conscientious winemaking, to lead a renaissance in the appellation. Henri Barruol, the father of current proprietor Louis, set the estate on its trajectory for excellence by adopting organic farming practices in the 1970s—well before organic practices were in vogue throughout the region. When Louis took over the estate in 1992, he built on that momentum by raising the bar for quality, and 2010, he began employing biodynamic practices across the estate.
Using painstaking attention to detail throughout the growing and winemaking process, the house style combines classic southern Rhône ripeness with freshness—a combination that makes the wines irresistible in their youth and beacons of Gigondas terroir with age. “I want to make wines which express their terroir with purity and personality,” says Louis. “I want balanced wines with a great ability to age.”
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Part of the secret is the inclusion of stems in the red wine fermentations; the stems absorb excess alcohol while allowing the wine to retain higher concentrations of both acidity and tannin, yielding wines with exquisite balance. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, these Gigondas icons burst with authentic, terroir-driven complexity.
The 2019 Château de Saint Cosme releases will be available in the United States this June, with pre-orders available in April. Just outside of the Gigondas border, the Barruol family owns another 10 hectares of vineyards near Violès, where they craft the stunning Les Deux Albion Blanc. Viognier, Picpoul, and Marsanne grapes grow in limestone soil to create a wine that juxtaposes salty minerality with lush apricot and floral tones. The Les Deux Albion Rouge, a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre, is from three Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages communes: Plan de Dieu, Saint Maurice, and Cairanne. Like its counterpart, this accessible wine offers the Saint Cosme touch at an exceptional value, with structure and layered complexity.
After an excellent, mild vintage in the Rhône and slow aging chez Saint Cosme, the estate’s three single-vineyard Gigondas wines—Hominis Fides, Le Claux, and Le Poste—are also ready for the spotlight. Each is entirely composed of Grenache, and Le Poste’s cool microclimate and limestone soil showcases structure, aromatics, and minerality. Le Claux, the oldest vineyard, crafts a refined, age-worthy rendition, and Hominis Fides harnesses sandy soil to create an elegant, textured wine. The classic Château de Saint Cosme Gigondas is a juicy companion to these single-site wines where Grenache is accented by Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Cinsault, which add smokey, floral tones to the finished wines.
In addition to these estate-grown wines, Château de Saint Cosme also produces négociant wines from some of the Rhône Valley’s finest terroirs under the Saint Cosme label. For those looking to experience Louis’ impeccable quality standards through another special Rhône Valley terroir, look out for the 2019 vintage release from Château de Rouanne in Vinsobres, which became Saint Cosme’s “sister estate” in May 2019. The new vintages are expected to arrive in the U.S. this fall.
Combined with their impeccable terroir and centuries of expertise, Château de Saint Cosme is not just the defining wine of Gigondas, but an estate continuing to push this historical appellation into the modern era via crystalline and expressive wines.