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 Gigondas(jhee-gon-dahs) Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Notable FactsThe wines of Gigondas are muscular and robust. Kind of an old-school type wine if you will. Not concentrating on being high-tech, easy-drinking or smooth, this wine is an in-your-face red, daring the consumer to try it's spicy, leathery, soulful juice. Good producers are making wines able to age for up to 10 or 15 years, although if you like robust wines, you'll love them now too. Grenache is the main grape, making up to (but not to exceed) 80% of the wine, Syrah & Mourvedre make up the majority of the extra 20%, although some other Cote-du-Rhone varietals can be found in small amounts. Rosé is seen less in the export market, but make good, spicy, dry wines.
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.