This is mountain terroir, with cooler weather and demanding soils, a mix of limestone and clay. The family's Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre vines are mostly older (between 30 and 50 years) and are very low yielding. Because of the ideal conditions here, Thierry Faravel explained that they are the last domaine in Gigondas almost every vintage to start the harvest—the combination of exposure and altitude allows grapes to ripen slowly and evenly. What this means for the wine is more elegance and freshness, which is certainly what you'll discover in every one of the Faravels' unique mountain cuvées.
Thierry and Gilles grew up in Gigondas and learned much from their winemaking father, Antonin, who Thierry described as a “weekend winemaker.” While he worked at another domaine, Antonin would tend his family plots only on the weekends when he had free time. For almost two decades the family sold their fruit from these mountain plots, until they decided in 1979 to start bottling wines themselves.
Today, the Faravels are considered one of the leading artisan winemakers in Gigondas, if not in the whole southern Rhône valley. Since the late 80s, the family has been dedicated to organic farming, using organic fertilizers and as little sulfates as possible in their wines. “You have to respect the wine,” says Thierry, and this shows: harvest is always by hand, and wines are never pumped but led from tank to barrel via gravity. Vinification is always as natural as possible, each vintage dictating how the brothers handle each varietal through fermentation and aging. Wines are seldom fined or filtered—to quote Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, these wines are "vibrant" and utterly alive. Domaine la Bouïssiere wines, with their rich complexity and stunning freshness, definitely deserve serious real-estate in any serious cellar—10, 15 years is the norm for these impressive, long-lived cuvées.
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About Cotes du Rhone
The appellation of Côtes du Rhône encompasses much of the land of the area, not to mention much of the wine – over two-thirds of the wine produced here is of the Côtes-du-Rhône appellation. Wines here need only be from the Côtes de Rhône geographic area (which is fairly large) and consist of one or more of the 22 varieties permitted. Being such a wide classification, it's a surprise and joy that so many of these wines reach such a high quality. While there are areas in the Northern Rhône that meet the classification of Côtes du Rhône, most all of this appellation is in the Southern Rhône. Wines here are based mostly on Grenache, like other Rhône reds, while the whites focus on Marsanne and Roussanne. Viognier is also allowed although typically used in smaller quantities.
Notable FactsThere is one higher level in the Côtes du Rhône called Côtes du Rhône Villages. These wines are from specific village areas that have a few more standards the wine must reach to receive the village label. Some to take note of are Cairanne, Rasteau, Seguret and Beaumes-de-Venise. The good thing about both Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages is that big producers of the smaller appellations are taking the opportunity and freedom offered by this broad appellation and creating wines of very high quality, and lower in price.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.