Domaine la BouïssiereGigondas | Rhône Valley
In the 1960s, Antonin Faravel began to carve his vineyards out of the crumbling stone cliffs of the Dentelles de Montmirail (pictured on the family’s wine labels). He knew that the cooler temperatures and rocky soils would produce perfectly ripe grapes, with better acidic balance and lower alcohol, too. While other winemakers quickly followed Antonin’s lead, Domaine la Bouïssiere without question is the original, high-altitude Gigondas.
Yet it certainly takes more than a mountain to make a world-class red. Antonin’s sons, winemakers Thierry and Giles Faravel, border on the fanatical when it comes to the health of their vines and grapes. Theirs are wines that are intimately tied to and faithfully reflect the rugged, sensual beauty of the Provençal landscape from which they’re born.
Most of the Faravel family’s Gigondas vines are located in a high-altitude, narrow valley between the Dentelles de Montmirail, a row of steep granite cliffs west of Mont Ventoux. Top soils are thin and very rocky; sub-soils are solid rock. (These vineyards are so steep that the Faravels have to use a tractor with caterpillar treads to get up and down.) Vines are cared for according to organic principles as each vintage allows. The oldest vines are between 60 and 70 years old.
Harvest is performed by hand, and grapes are partially destemmed and lightly crushed, depending on the vintage. Fermentation on indigenous yeasts takes place in unlined cement tanks or stainless steel tanks; wines age in a combination of tank, larger foudre and barrique. Wines are bottled by gravity and are unfined and unfiltered.
Côtes du Rhône Blanc
A rare and wonderful white wine, pure Clairette from sandy soils just outside the Gigondas appellation boundaries. Here sandy soils give this white a delicate silkiness, and flavors rich in citrus zest and wildflowers. Just the sort of aperitif a sultry evening in the south of France requires.
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Côtes du Rhône Rouge
A special selection of declassified fruit from vines in the Beaumes de Venise appellation, this stunningly deep and savory Côtes du Rhône is unquestionably a cut above. Wild herbs, red and black fruit, suave tannins.
While much of the Vacqueyras appellation occupies the valley’s warmer (and wetter) lowlands, the Faravel family’s vines sit on a plateau north of the village and as such, produce fresher, more balanced fruit. With large quartz stones and sand, soils here remind of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Always a powerful yet suave wine, one that can age in step with the best of the region.
Estate founder Antonin Faravel once said, “If you want a great Burgundy, buy a young Gigondas and age it.” The family’s high-altitude vineyards showcase old-vine Grenache at its most silky and spicy. A stunningly supple and complexly flavored wine every vintage.
Gigondas ‘La Font de Tonin’
A special selection of older-vine fruit from the highest part of the vineyard (and appellation). ‘La Font de Tonin’ means “fountain (or source) of Antonin,” a tribute to the estate founder (and winemakers’ father). An elegant, concentrated wine, produced only in the best of years, one that will age 10 to 15 years with grace.