Wine Review: 2006 Domaine Les Pallieres Gigondas

10 04 2011

All the CNDP quality, half the price.

There hasn’t been a lot of French wine so far on PnP, not because I’m not a fan, but because I haven’t had a lot of it lately.  But tonight that all changes with authority, as this Gigondas put on quite a show at Sunday night dinner.  Gigondas is a wine region that’s a good bet for killer value wines:  it’s located in the Southern Rhone in the southeast corner of France, very near the much more famous Chateauneuf-de-Pape, and it makes wines that closely resemble those of its more exclusive neighbour.  It has a very similar climate (warm and Mediterranean) as CNDP and uses very similar grapes in its wines (in its reds, predominantly Grenache  with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault the main others in the blend) as CNDP, but since it’s not called “Chateauneuf-de-Pape”, its wines (many of which rival CNDP in quality) are much, much cheaper.  Once you stop paying for the region name on the label, more of your buying dollar goes to pay for the quality of the wine itself.  Case in point:  this Gigondas was only slightly more expensive than this horrible train wreck of a CDNP, but was about a zillion times better made.

This wine was a reminder not to overlook the sight component of wine enjoyment, because it had an absolutely gorgeous colour to it, a clear, transparent, slightly faded but still vivid salmon/strawberry hue that almost made it look like a lighter-bodied grape like a Pinot Noir.  It was an almost delicate-looking colour, and you could easily see right through it — not what I expected from a Grenache/Syrah blend from a warm weather region, which I would have thought would be deeper and thicker.  This surprising delicacy carried through to the nose and the palate.  There were a number of aromas swirling around on the nose, red berries but also black tea, sweet spices, a wood component (like sawdust) and a touch of cured meat funkiness on the tail end.  Instead of being big, burly and alcoholic on the palate, the Domaine les Pallieres was medium-bodied and tasted of sweet strawberry, earth, leather and cinnamon, with unimposing measured tannins and beautiful balance throughout.  It was rustic but refined, elegant but still earthy.  Nothing seemed out of place in this wine; all the flavour components melded together harmoniously and stretched out nicely into a long, warming finish.

Cork Rating: 6.5/10 (Old Worldy But Still Interesting)

I drank this Gigondas with BBQ rotisserie chicken, with phenomenal results — the BBQ spices (smoked paprika, seasoning salt, celery salt, pepper, rosemary/thyme) were a perfect match to the flavour profile of the wine, which was understated enough not to overpower the dish.  Don’t let anyone tell you that all chicken automatically calls out for a white; since chicken itself is fairly neutral-tasting, it will often be the way you prepare it or what sauce/gravy/sides you serve it with that determine the best wine pairing.  I am a huge fan of French Rhone wines, and examples like this one will ensure I keep coming back for more.  Keep an eye out for Gigondas!

91 points

$30 to $40 CDN

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