The 2003 Gigondas Cuvee Valbelle is a blend of 90% Grenache, and the balance Syrah, that was aged in 50% new French oak. A big, ripe, full-bodied effort that holds everything together, it gives up notions of black plums, blackberries and cassis to go with pepper, cured meats and roasted herbs. Possessing rock-solid, mid-palate depth and a core of sweet fruit, it’s drinking at point, but should have a gradual evolution over the coming 4-5 years. The leading producer in Gigondas, Saint Cosme has been run by the passionate and talented Louis Barruol since 1992, when he took over from his parents. Today, he produces four single-vineyard releases (the Hominis Fides and Valbelle come from essentially the same plot) and a classic Gigondas.... While these cuvees can be frightfully tannic on release, they round into form with a handful of years in the cellar, and age beautifully. Looking at his classic Gigondas, it’s all from estate fruit and is a rough blend of 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah and the balance Cinsault. Aging here is a combination of tank and older barrels. Looking specifically at this tasting, the idea was to taste through a broad sample set to get a better understanding of how these cuvees evolve. While any day you get to taste in Barruol’s cellar is a good one, I was thrilled to see how well his wines had held up over the years. In short, these are some of the finest Gigondas that money can buy. (JD)
Deep violet. Rich, powerful scents of cassis, creme de mure, candied licorice and cherry cola. Deep and folded in on itself, with stunningly concentrated but focused dark berry and plum flavors saturating the palate. Finishes ripe and long, with great thrust. From 80-year-old grenache vines. (JR)
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