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April 2010

A full review of 2007 Gigondas reds has been posted under 2007 Southern Rhône Leading Wines. Click on 2007 Southern Rhône, then on the tab underneath Leading Wines. Many of these Gigondas have been tasted twice, in cask and latterly in bottle, which is of course a much more reliable indicator. I am utterly suspicious of Grand Pronouncements on the wines of a vintage before bottling - cask samples can give an idea, but before the wine has been finally assembled, they can be misleading. Generally the trend I found between late 2008 and late 2009 was favourable - a majority of the wines had made progress. 2008 Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Papewill follow - a vintage which will gain over time, but one that is likely to receive less oaking.

At Vacqueyras, the Domaine La Fourmone has been entered: Roger Combe made a firm impression on me when I first met him in the early 1970s - here was a man who spoke (and wrote) fluent Provençal, so, like papa Frédéric Alary at Cairanne - the boys now run Oratoire St Martin and Domaine Alary, he was both a man of letters and of the soil. His daughters Marie-Thérèse and Aline were his successors on the domaine, which in 1973-74 was most unusual in an almost 100% male-dominated activity. Marie-Thérèse is now also an accomplished painter. Fourmone produces both Vacqueyras and Gigondas, and has a small merchant business that takes in some Northern Rhônes as well.

At Gigondas new domaines posted include the very well-established Domaine Les Goubert, where Jean-Pierre Cartier prodcues an array of different cuvées across Gigondas, Sablet and Beaumes-de-Venise. His Cuvée Florence caused consternation when introduced in 1985, since it was raised for 9 months in new Vosges oak casks. Tasting of this goes back many years, so the oak effect over time can be gauged. Also the small scale Domaine La Bouscatière, with STGT tendencies, and the promising STGT, whole bunch Domaine Les Chênes Blancs, the reliable Cave de Gigondas and Bertrand Stehelin

At Beaumes-de-Venise, a small, quite recent start-up, the Domaine Chiniard. A pretty good example of newcomers to wine, who work the vineyards naturally, and make their wine without artifice. In the local vein, the wines are robust, but honest, not Superhighway, and the 2007 is STGT. For Eurostar travellers who find they have a thirst on near the Gare du Nord in Paris, it is on sale at the Caves Bardou, the nearest wine shop, at 124 rue Faubourg St Denis off the gloriously named Boulevard de Magenta (salut, je m`appelle Magenta, what an intro), for €14.50.

A trio of very sound domaines, as well: at Rasteau, Domaine des Coteaux des Travers, and its robust wines. At Beaumes-de-Venise, the Domaine Saint Amant, pioneers in high altitude Viognier in the Rhône, their red wines making recent progress, with the astute Camille Wallut at the helm. And at the much blighted Tricastin, having dropped the cumbersome Coteaux du and after nuclear mishaps having also applied unsuccessfully to change the name to Côtes du Rhône, the leading property Domaine de Grangeneuve.

A note of interest for lovers of Hermitage: a vertical of Domaine du Colombier 2002,2003, 2004 and 2005 from late last year: the striking point was that, despite the vineyards not being on the most nbole west end of the hill, each one faithfully reflected its vintage. Colombier is listed under the Crozes-Hermitage appellation.