When we last sampled the wines of Gigondas & Vacqueyras in April 2014, David's winning bottle impressed for its complexity and completeness. So what did he do? He went out and bought another of the exact same bottle, to be stuffed into the back of the cellar, only to emerge for another round of battle.
That time came with the October tasting, and after a COVID-related break of three months, we were eager to revive our palates with familiar, but challenging wines. David's entry again wowed us, with a fantastic, complex nose, paired with harmonious, integrated flavors and gorgeous texture.
In these times of social distancing, we had only four tasters compared to the usual six, but all four entries were at least very good to outstanding wines, showing a sense of place as well as distinctiveness.
First Place: Roucas Toumba Les Restanques de Cabassole Vacqueyras 2010. Dense color. Contained in glass #1, so it was our first sip of the night, we all let out a collective "aaahhhhh....." in response to the beautiful, perfumed nose that was the most complex of the night. Tasters found scents of dried and fresh flowers (roses?), beef blood, dried meats, underbrush, dried herbs, wet stone, dark cherry, lilac, dark plum, a little bit of a spice, like black pepper or cinnamon. Elegant. Ali noted that "I could just smell this all day." Fills the mouth with flavors of tomatoes, firewood, iodine, squid ink, smoldering ember, dried orange rind, blueberry preserves, thick grass, seaweed, and cloves. Some herbaceousness on the finish, along with black tea and cranberries. Ali detected "not so much red [fruit], but more of a purple, tart berry." The unanimous favorite, for a total of 24 points. David's bottle. About $35.
Second Place: E. Guigal Gigondas 2016. Scents reminiscent of flowers, smoke, cola, dirty sponge, weeds, cloves, and cinnamon. Andy described "river rock [that] maybe has a little moss on it." Round and seamless in the mouth, with a texture that flows with flavors of coffee, licorice, black cherry, Dr. Pepper, and "eggs with scallions". Well-integrated acidity that tingles a bit, feeling alive on the mid-palate. Everything holds together. Slightly shorter finish. Everyone's second favorite, for a total of 16 points. Ali's bottle. About $40.
Third Place (tie): Domaine La Bouïssiere Vacqueyras 2017. Grapefruit pith, a little bit of funk, straw, dry grass, strawberry, onion, basement dust, crushed up rock, and candied fruit on the nose. Brighter, and a touch vegetal. The palate was much darker than the nose, however, with notions of plums, licorice, cola, prunes, cheese, grapefruit, Dr. Pepper, dark spices, and black tea. 8 points. Andy's bottle. About $30.
Third Place (tie): Domaine Cour de Chaulé Gigondas Cuvée Tradition 2016. A touch of funk on the nose, plus roasted chestnuts, or something toasted that's not wood, then wet sponge, pine, rubber glove, and a hint of something medicinal. Plump in the mouth, with flavors of red fruit, plums, cherries, and bitter chocolate. Round and juicy, with a mouthcoating quality not unlike syrup or Nyquil. Finished with some dairy notes, suggesting cheese. Lacks the herb and floral qualities we like, but Andy felt that it was "a little more complex -- that it demands more attention." 8 points. Kristin's bottle. About $37.