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Domaine Saint Gayan

Côtes du Rhône

The red Cotes-du-Rhône from Domaine Saint Gayan does not follow the fashion for easy-drinking, light and easy-drinking wines. The grapes come entirely from Cotes du Rhone Villages vineyards – in particular from Sablet, which borders Gigondas. Old vines ensure a full-bodied, broad and deeply-coloured wine whilst offering the generosity of fruit that one expects from a Côtes du Rhône. Can be drunk up to 7 years.

Style: Red

Grape varieties:60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 10% Carignan, 5% Mourvèdre

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Red Wine Grape Varieties

Southern Rhône wines are almost always blended around Grenache to bring balance, complexity and richness of aroma to the wines. Thirteen varietals are permitted. The main varieties are:

Grenache – Medium ruby colour and high alcohol. Delightfully fruity (red fruits) in youth, spice: prune notes with age. Medium dry tannins that soften with age.

Syrah – Deep colour with purple shades. Very tight but velvety tannins giving good ageing potential. Violet and/ or black fruit aromas. With age the aromas evolves towards wild aromas of leather, truffle, and towards liquorice

Mourvèdre – Dark brick red, high tannin brings additional ageing quality to the blend. Sometimes animal notes in its youth become fruity (dark berries, leather, undergrowth, pine, liquorice) and spicy with age.

Cinsault – High proportion in Rosé. Elegant, fruity aromas, light colour and tannin (in reds).

White Wine Grape Varieties

Grenache Blanc – Low acidity giving smoothness and length on the palate with floral aromas and notes of apple and pear.

Clairette – Brings acidity and freshness to the blend. Floral, complex aromas of rose and acacia with notes of white peach and exotic fruit.

Roussanne – Brings finesse and delicacy and a great deal of elegance. Good acidity in the northern Rhône enabling the wine to age well. Complex aromas of honeysuckle with touches of apricot, hawthorn or narcissus.

Bourboulenc – Brings good acidity to the blend. Floral aromas.

Marsanne – Medium acidity, with high aromatic potential in young wines. Complex and subtle floral aromas of acacia, dried fruit and nuts (almond, hazelnut, walnut).

Viognier – Medium colour with low acidity and very fruity (pear) in the Southern Rhône. In the Northern Rhône, it brings suppleness and smoothness. Great aromatic potential – acacia, honeysuckle, violet, almond blossom, linden, and with age, musk, honey and dried apricot.

Terroir: Clay, sand and limestone on Côtes du Rhône villages parcels in Sablet and Séguret.

Oak: None

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Oak Flavours

The vast majority of wines in the Southern Rhône are aged in neutral tanks such as concrete and stainless steel in order to preserve the delightful fruity characteristics of Grenache. Where oak is used, it is often only used for a proportion of the blend. The majority of wines in the Northern Rhône however, are aged in oak.

The amount of oak flavour in the wine depends on:

  • The size of the barrel – Less surface area in contact with the wine = less oak flavour
  • The age of the barrel – Less oak is imparted in each subsequent wine.
  • The level of charring (“toast”) and type of oak used by the cooper

The following classifications are used for wines listed on this website:

No Oak – The wine is aged in neutral vats or large, old oak barrels that impart no oak flavours. These wines will be fruit-forward and bright in their early years.

Light Oak – Oak flavours are present but do not dominate the wine when young. The wine may only be partly aged in smaller oak barrels and/or the barrels may have been used for one to three prior wines.

Prominent Oak – Oak flavour is a noticeable feature of the wine, particularly when young. Oak also imparts oak tannins into the wine which can increase the ageing potential of the wine, thus allowing the wine to develop complex aromas over many years.

Drinking time: 3 to 7 years

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Drinking Time

The majority of everyday wines are produced to be drunk within a year, or two of their vintage date. Fine wines that demonstrate a balanced acidity and good tannin structure have the ability to be aged over many years. Oak flavours and red wine tannins soften with age, which allow more complex aromas to develop. Deciding when to drink a fine wine is very much a matter of personal taste. You should drink the wine earlier in its life if you prefer its fruity (“primary”) aromas, accepting that tannins and any oak flavours will be more prominent when the wine is young.

Reviews:

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Reviews

The ratings of leading reviewers are listed here with their written comments detailed at the bottom of the page.

Remember that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Each wine reviewer has personal tastes and, as hard as they try, preferences can be reflected in the numerical score a reviewer gives to a wine. This is why is important to read their comments rather than judge a wine by its numerical score.

JR = Jancis Robinson. Score out of 20 points.
RP = Robert Parker, Wine Advocate. Score out of 100 points.
JD = Jeb Dunnuck. Score out of 100 points.
WS = Wine Spectator. Score out of 100 points.
W&S = Wine and Sprits. Score out of 100 points.
WE = Wine Enthusiast. Score out of 100 points.
VM = Vinous Media. Score out of 100 points.
JS= James Suckling. Score out of 100 points.

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Producer profile

Domaine St Gayan is owned by the delightful Jean-Pierre and Martine Meffre and they run the domaine with their equally charming son-in-law Christian Yves Carré. The farmhouse dates back to the 15th century and Gigondas wine was first produced at the property in the 18th century. The vineyards of Sablet and Rasteau came to the property via the wife of Roger Meffre.

Roger Meffre commenced the bottling of his Gigondas wines in 1956 and later, his son Jean-Pierre and daughter-in-law, Martine commenced bottling of their Rasteau, Sablet and Côtes du Rhône wines. In 1987 they acquired a very small parcel of vines in the north-eastern section of Châteauneuf-du-Pape via a very a beneficial swap of table wine land near the Ouveze river that the Châteauneuf-du-Pape owner wanted to buy for his son to develop as a campsite!

St Gayan cultivates a total of 34ha (84 acres) of vineyards with 16ha in Gigondas, 5ha in Rasteau, 1ha in Sablet, 0.75ha in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 10ha in Côtes du Rhône and 1 ha under the IGP designation.

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The Gigondas parcels are spread across different sites but mostly on the northern sector of the appellation, with parcels on the raised plateau of marne, limestone and sand, and parcels on the more limestone-rich slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail hills. The oldest grenache vines are over 100 years old and reserved for the cuvées “Fontmaria” and “In Nomine Patris”. Their main Gigondas cuvée “Origine” is one of my benchmark Gigondas wines – fine tannins, dried red fruits, wonderful complexity and a long, lingering finish held together by a delicate minerality.

The wonderfully brooding Rasteau wine is cultivated from a very stony plateau that gets the full blast of the magical Mistral wind and displays the body and dark fruits that are typical of the appellation. The white Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet is exquisitely fresh (reflecting the sandy terroir of Sablet) and floral and is a delightful accompaniment to the fresh goat cheese of the region. The Côtes du Rhône rosé is everything you would expect from a Provencal rose – enchanting red fruits, freshness, and just enough structure to accompany summer provencal dishes. Last and certainly, not least is their Côtes du Rhône red which is a permanent resident of my cellar. This is a great wine at a criminally low price that benefits from at least three years of ageing before consuming.

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