When you’re wine touring in the Southern Rhone, you should plan a day in Gigondas. The village is charming, the surrounding area is beautiful and then there are the wines!
Gigondas is one of the Rhone Cru villages, the second tier in Southern Rhone wines. The Cru Villages name their wines for the village, and they don’t need to include “Côtes du Rhône” in their name. The wines are considered a bit less elegant than the top tier Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but they are distinctive and are priced a little more affordably. In the Rhone hierarchy, they rate above Côtes du Rhône Villages wines and basic Côtes du Rhône. Madeline at Wine Folly has an excellent description here.
Here’s one way to spend your day (click on any photo to start a slide show):
Gigondas Village Exploration
Caveau du Gigondas Tasting Room
The Caveau du Gigondas tasting room features an overwhelming number of Gigondas wines, ready for you to sample. You can tell them you’d like to taste a very traditional wine vs. a very modern wine, or any other thing you might think of. Want to try one with a bit more Mourvedre? The staff know which ones by heart. They won’t tell you their favorites, but they know their wines! They sell bottles at the same price as at the cellar, so you can take a few with you to enjoy over a meal.
Hotel Florets for Lunch
Thomas at Domaine Rouge-Bleu recommended Hotel Florets and even made a lunch reservation for us. We were dressed in rainwear and hiking clothes, but the staff didn’t seem to mind. If it were a nicer day, we would definitely have eaten out on the beautiful shaded patio. Oh well, next time!
Hiking in the Dentelles
A trip to Gigondas wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the local mountain range, the Dentelles de Montmirail. These jagged mountains are well known to wine connoisseurs as the peaks on the cover of Kermit Lynch’s book “Adventures on the Wine Route.” Rugged and beautiful, you can wander among them on well marked hiking paths. Maps are available at the Tourist Information Center in Gigondas.
After a fancy lunch and a big day outdoors we decided a relaxing evening over wine, cheese and charcuterie was the perfect conclusion to our day. We tested out the two Gigondas wines we bought at the Caveau. One was traditional in style and required some attention in the tasting environment as its aroma and flavor were more subtle. The second was made in a modern style and practically jumped out of the glass. Several in our group were very excited to try it at dinner. Interestingly, the modern styled wine was more appealing at the tasting, but much less satisfying as a whole bottle with dinner. Our group unanimously preferred the traditional bottle over dinner.
Have you visited the Southern Rhone? Where were your favorites? We’re always looking for ideas for future trips!