Wines to Seek Out
Domaine Saint Gayan has holdings in Gigondas, neighboring Rasteau and the Côtes du Rhône village of Sablet. They work almost entirely with Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.
Domaine Saint Gayan "Trescartes" Côtes du Rhône
Saint Gayan's Côtes du Rhône AOC offering is a superb value. For roughly $18, you get a wine of enormous power and pleasingly astringent, bitter black fruit, which is countered nicely by savory, floral and mineral sensations that pull it all together. There is no way you can confidently call this an "entry-level wine" given that complexity, but what else would you call a wine at this price point?
Domaine Saint Gayan "Ilex" Rasteau
Rasteau may be better known for its nectary sweet vin doux naturel, but its dry red wines certainly belong in the conversation with Gigondas, Vacqueyras and maybe even Châteauneuf-du-Pape as well. Here, Meefre leans into Mourvèdre more than with his other wines, which seems to result in a meatier presentation. The fruits are a bit more stewed as well, but in a way that suggests character, not flaw. It hits the same pleasure points as a bowl of boeuf bourguignon on a cold winter's day. Embrace it.
Domaine Saint Gayan "Origine" Gigondas
I've always had better luck (and a more rewarding drinking experience) with Gigondas over Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Regardless of this simple, subjective fact, I have nonetheless felt hobbled by that comparison: can't Gigondas just be Gigondas without that comparison?
Saint Gayan's "Origine" finally resolved that tension for me. This wine sings with fleshy fruit tones, supple acidity, and resinous herbaceousness that feels like garrigue on full blast (and if there is any other terroir note of more consequence than that in the Southern Rhône, I've yet to encounter it).
But it is the long, potent but purposeful finish that makes this wine truly standout. That purpose may sound a bit nebulous, but it is something I've always found in mountain wines, and if there is a defining trait to Gigondas that everyone knows, it is the Dentelles de Montmirail, an exposed and dramatic fin of limestone mountains that unifies the appellation. Limestone lends to the texture, but it is the cooler nights of the mountains that seem to lock in character. To me, that's the legs that Gigondas can stand on, and its best on display with "Origine," making Saint Gayan an Essential Winemaker of France.