Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas Hominis Fides 2018
Very old mixed plantings of Grenache on Miocene limestone sand in the ‘Hominis Fides’ named vineyard. Whole cluster fermentation. Twelve months’ ageing: 20% in new casks – 50% in casks used for one wine - 30% in casks used for two to three wines.
My father had spotted the huge potential of this site back in the early 1960s. Of course, this was not an era when the whys and wherefores of vineyard sites were examined in detail, but the sound appraisal of a seasoned winegrower could be trusted. Hominis Fides has always been one of the best named vineyard sites, irrespective of the vintage: great terroirs override vintages. When geological History with a capital H meets the relatively short-term history of small human winegrowers, the result is a kind of enigmaticsoul-searching: what is the meaning behind all this? Why does this soil created 11 million years ago by a sea that swept inland inspire little ‘worms’ like us on the long-term scale of time? Hominis Fides always displays a unique depth, but in a vintage like 2018, it is tinged with finesse and freshness. The tanninsalways achieve finesse with disconcerting ease. Although this is a Grenache vineyard, Hominis is also home to a lot of Aramon, Alicante, Carignan and even grape varieties whose names I am unfamiliar with...
Our predecessors liked to mix plantings and add diversity: it helps flowering, makes the wines more complex and “irons out” the excesses of certain vintages. Sometimes, before travelling far and wide looking for knowledge, trying to understand what our predecessors did and taking a closer look at what is in front of our very eyes is enough. Rose, liquorice, iodine, pepper.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
One of the wines of the vintage, 2018 Gigondas Hominis Fides comes from a single parcel of old vines planted in more limestone/sandy soils not far from the estate (it’s just across the street from the Le Claux lieu-dit). This dense purple/ruby hued beauty boasts a sensational bouquet of ripe black raspberries, mulled cherries, black licorice, loamy soil, and a kiss of camphor, as well as plenty of peppery herb-like nuances. With full-bodied richness, it hits the palate with a seamless, elegant texture, no hard edges, building tannins and one seriously good finish. It’s not a powerhouse like the 2007 or 2016, yet has incredible finesse as well as purity of fruit and length. It benefits from a quick decant and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face any time over the coming 15+ years.
The 2018 Gigondas Hominis Fides is another huge success for the team at Saint Cosme, boasting complex aromas of roses, dusty earth, cigar box, asphalt and dark fruit. The plums and black cherries expand on the full-bodied palate, sweeping across in supple waves of flavor without ever becoming overbearing, buoyed by notes of cracked pepper and anise, then finishing in silky pools of lingering flavor.
This is dense and dark, with lots of currant and fig paste flavors that have melded with licorice root, singed apple wood and warm earth notes, followed by a long, tobacco- and garrigue-edged finish. Youthfully gutsy, but with everything in place and plenty of energy, so this should cellar well. Best from 2022 through 2036.
When Louis Barruol’s ancestors planted Hominis Fides some 90 years ago, they hoped to mitigate unpredictable weather by including alicante, aramon, carignan and a host of other varieties among the grenache plantings. They also chose a spot where the movement of two geological faults brought Miocene limestone sand to the surface. That fast-draining soil and the mix of vines were fortuitous choices for a wet vintage like 2018. The wine shines bright and deep, quickly moving past toasty oak notes (20 percent of the lot aged in new barrels). Then it’s all spiced cherries, wild thyme and rosemary, the resinous edge of the herbal notes adding cut to its generous build, and echoing the fine tannic structure. The wine lasts for days after opening, each sip a liquid trip to Gigondas’s garrigue-scented hills.
Chateau de Saint Cosme is the leading estate of Gigondas and produces the appellation’s benchmark wines. Wine has been produced on the site of Saint Cosme since Roman times, evident by the ancient Gallo-Roman vats carved into the limestone below the chateau. The property has been in the hands of Louis Barruol’s family since 1570. Henri and Claude Barruol took over in 1957 and gradually moved Saint Cosme away from the bulk wine business. Henri was one of the first in the region to work organically beginning in the 1970s. Louis Barruol took over from his father in 1992, making a dramatic shift to quality, adding a négociant arm to the business in 1997, and converting to biodynamics in 2010.
The Southern Rhône region of Gigondas extends northwest from the notably jagged wall of mountains called the Dentelles di Montmirail, whose highest point climbs to about 2,600 feet. The region and its wines have much in common with the neighboring Chateauneuf-du-Pape except that the vineyards of Gigondas exist at higher elevation and its soils, comprised mainly of crumbled limestone from the Dentelles, often produce a more dense and robust Grenache-based red wine.
The region has a history of fine winemaking, extending back to Roman times. But by the 20th century, Gigondas was merely lumped into the less distinct zone of Côtes du Rhône Villages. However, it was first among these satellite villages to earn its own appellation, which occurred in 1971.
Gigondas reds must be between 50 to 100% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvèdre comprising the bulk of the remainder of the blend. They tend express rustic flavors and aromas of wild blackberry, raspberry, fig, plum, as well as juniper, dried herbs, anise, smoke and river rock. The best are bold but balanced, and finish with impressively sexy and velvety tannins.
The Gigondas appellation also produces rosé but no white wines.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.