On the Trail

Gigondas from Gardette's Oldest Vines

David Driscoll
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We’ve been working for years now with the Meunier family to bring the Moulin de la Gardette wines from Gigondas directly to K&L and over the last few they’ve become some of the most popular and beloved wines in the store with their plush fruit flavors and spicy complexity. With the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the Southern Rhône gaining traction once again with a growing legion of drinkers who appreciate both the ripeness and the approachability of the cuvées, we’ve had to increase our orders annually to satisfy customer demand and search out new expressions from one of France’s most historic appellations. Even though wine has been produced in the Rhône since Roman times, it wasn’t until the 20th century that wines were planted on the slopes of the Gardette, a hillside previously dedicated to olives and apricots rather than Grenache and Syrah. That's when Victor Jurdic first started making wines from that particular part of the Gigondas. He eventually married Laurent Meunier and together they created the Moulin de la Gardette label, named after the old windmill on the site. 

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Today the property is managed by the Jean-Baptiste Meunier who first took the reigns back in 1990, caring for more than twenty-five different plots that have since been added around the original site. With an average age of sixty-five years, the old vines produce concentrated and focused berries and that richness shows through in just about every bottle of Moulin de la Gardette I've ever tasted. However, it was a recent bottle of special Gardette expression called the "Cuvée Ventabren" that really got my attention. Made from the property's oldest vines (between 80-100 years of age), the blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault is simply stunning in both is pureness of fruit and in its expression of terroir due to the fact that Gardettes vines are planted in dry, high-elevation soils, forcing them to dig deep into the earth in search of water and nutrients. Tasting the Gardette you can clearly make out black cherries and fresh strawberries, but also sage, forest, and brush alongside the peppery accents from the Syrah. Jean-Baptiste vinified the Ventabren in cement tanks and aged the wine in giant foudres so as not to mask those delicate flavors with oak. I was taken aback by the pure deliciousness of the wine, right out of the bottle and even more so after it had time to breath. 

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the 2015 Cuvée Ventabren is the price. The critics have already lauded the wine with huge scores and high praise, so our direct relationship plays a big role in keeping the bottle price well under $40. If you're looking for a knock out bottle that not only expresses the character of the Southern Rhône, but also tastes pretty damn great, I'd highly recommend snagging one or two of these before we send out the big email. 

-David Driscoll