Much like many of the appellations of the southern Rhône, the wines of Gigondas are based on the Grenache grape. […]Keep Reading
Much like many of the appellations of the southern Rhône, the wines of Gigondas are based on the Grenache grape. It tends to rusticity if yields are not checked or if it is vinified carelessly. It is supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre with smaller amounts of various other varieties. There are two types of wine made in Gigondas, red and rosé, but the production of rosé is so small it’s mainly an academic point. Gigondas is red wine country. While you can find some white varieties in the vineyards, they are either bottled as Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc or co-fermented with the red grapes to make Gigondas red and rosé wines.
Domaine des Bosquets has deep historical roots in Gigondas. It was first mentioned as a vineyard site in 1376. Bosquets means “a wooded grove,” which is an apt name for many of the vineyards one finds high up in the Dentelles – isolated and surrounded by forest and scrub. The oldest surviving buildings on the property, constructed in 1644 under Jean de Rivière Seigneur de Laval’s direction, are comprised of a defensive tower, protective walls, and a solidly built provençal farmhouse. All have thick walls testifying to the need for protection against the cold winds of winter, the heat of summer, and the risks of living in such a remote corner of France. In 1674 the estate was inherited by the Chauvet family, who ran the property for many generations. In the 19th century, the estate passed through Eugène Raspail’s hands, who reorganized many of the vineyard plots and terraced portions of them. In 1961 Gabriel Meffre discovered that Domaine des Bosquets was for sale. Motivated by the potential and history of the estate and his love of his wife Juliette, a descendant of the Chauvet family, he purchased Domaine des Bosquets to bring it back into the family.
The property Gabriel and Juliette had purchased was in some state of disrepair. The earlier work of Eugène Raspail was unfinished but following in his footsteps, they completed the reorganization of the vineyards, most notably finishing the terraces that separated two vineyards sites that would become La Colline and Le Plateau. Many of the vines that exist today at Domaine des Bosquets were planted by Gabriel and Juliette, relying on their friendship with the Reynaud of Château Rayas for budwood to replant much of the Grenache and Syrah and expanding the plantings to the estate’s current size of 26 hectares. When Gabriel died in 1987, Domaine des Bosquets passed to his daughter Sylvette and Sylvette’s son Laurent Brechet. In 1995 Laurent built a fermentation room and cellar at Domaine des Bosquets – before that time the grapes were sent to Gabriel Meffre’s négoce operation in Gigondas and later they were fermented and aged at Château de Vaudieu in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The most recent chapter of Domaine des Bosquets’ history began in 2010 when Julien Brechet, Laurent’s younger brother, took charge of the property. With little in the way of technical training, Laurent sent him to Château de Pibarnon in Bandol to begin his training before finishing his informal studies at Château de Vaudieu. Julien considers 2015 to be his first independent vintage. While Philippe and Laurent were available to answer questions, he was left largely on his own. With each successive vintage that we taste, we are astounded that wines that were so remarkable when we first added them to our portfolio just keep getting better.
Under Julien’s leadership and assisted with a small staff of six employees, Julien has begun to map out his terroirs through careful studies and micro-vinifications. Rather than rob his Village Gigondas of their best parts, these parcel wines are made in limited quantities and serve to make his regular Gigondas better. There are seven sites that Julien farms: Jasio, La Colline, Le Plateau, Les Bosquets, Roche, Les Routes, and Les Blânches. His 26 hectares are primarily located in Gigondas, with a few hectares in neighboring Beaumes-de-Venise and Sablet. The principal grape variety is Grenache (70%), with 20% Syrah, 8% Mourvèdre, and 2% Cinsault. There are tiny percentages of other varieties, both red and white as well. Since 2015 he’s begun to convert the property to certified organic farming with the goal to have the estate farmed biodynamically as well. Cover crops are encouraged and are plowed under to ensure the roots penetrate deep into the subsoil. Care is taken to preserve the biodiversity surrounding his parcels to promote natural pest control. The average age of the vines is 50 years old, and the soils range (Julien has mapped 14 different terroirs) from sand to various gravels and types of clay – some of which are quite chalky. Average yields are 23 hl/ha for vines destined for the village Gigondas, while it drops down to as low as 15 hl/ha for some of the parcel wines. Harvests are manual to ensure a strict selection of fruit, and fermentations are now entirely with indigenous yeasts. With these farming changes, Julien has noticed better stem maturation at harvest and uses up to 30% whole clusters. His Gigondas wines are aged for two winters in French oak barrels ranging in size from 228L to 23HL. He prefers seasoned barrels to new and ages his parcel wines entirely in neutral French oak.Close