Exploring Gigondas: A Deep Dive into Saint Cosme with Louis Barruol

By | 17 June 2024

Website: https://www.saintcosme.com/

Louis Barruol of Château Saint Cosme is one of the presidents of the Gigondas appellation, and he’s making some of the appellations most sought-after wines. He also makes negociant wines from elsewhere in the Rhône, as well as being a partner in Forge cellars in the Finger Lakes of New York.

Louis was born here, and he recalls that in the 1960s and 1970s most people in the area were farming chemically, using pesticides. ‘Chemicals were seen as progress at the time,’ he says. Farmers were working ‘like a god’ and ‘these magical products will avoid them working as hard as that.’ It’s easy to see the appeal. His father used pesticides from 1971-1973, but began to see the bird populations declining. So after three years he called the pesticide company rep and said, I have a little more protection but I have a lot more problems. He became a pioneer of organics here, which was the traditional way of farming.

He has 15 hectares altogether in the appellation, and the largest plot is the first we looked at, which is a 5.5 hectare block just outside the village. ‘There is crazy heterogeneity in this one plot,’ says Louis. His people were busy pruning and ploughing as we looked around.

Next to this is a lieu dit called Hominis Vidis, which was planted in 1902. And then over the road Le Clos, which is 1.5 hectares with some vines planted in 1880. Another plot we looked at is Syrah planted in 1969 – his dad got the vine material from Gerard Chave as there was then no Syrah available in the south.

‘The disease pressure is low here,’ he says, which makes organics easier than in more northerly regions. The only issue here is floor management.

His father loved farming but sold the wine in bulk to negociants. So when Louis took over in 1992 the family were in financial trouble. They decided to start bottling their own wine and selling it. Aged 23, Louis had to start building a brand. He filled his suitcase with samples and went to London. He was selling wine at 26 Francs (€4), but no one knew Gigondas. ‘This is where we were in 1992,’ he says. But his tenacity and sales skills paid off.

Now he makes 400,000 bottles, when the negociant side of the business which started in 1997 is taken into account. He’s also purchased 60 hectares in Vinsobres in 2019.

After looking around the vines, including a plot (La Poste) in front of the famous chapel that features on his label, we head to the cellar to taste. It’s an old structure that contains some second-century Roman fermentation vats of 2000 litres. This is a remarkable piece of wine history, but they are in the middle of a working winery, which is quite cool.

They work with 33 plots which they vinify separately, and they have three that really deserve to be lieux-dits: Hominis, Le Claux, and Le Poste.

Saint Cosme Le Poste Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2014
This is now Gigondas Blanc. Nuts, spice, honey, and citrus on the nose with nice focus. The palate is fresh and textural with bright citrus and some wet stone notes. Linear and bright with lovely purity and finesse. 94/100

Saint Cosme Le Poste Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2022
Fresh and fruity with bright citrus, pear, and fennel with a touch of mandarin brightness. Juicy and fine with lovely delicacy on the finish, which is slightly salty. Such focus. 93/100

Saint Cosme Hominis Fides Côtes du Rhone Blanc 2022
Just seven-year-old Clairette vines which give double the yields of the old vines. Supple and textural with nice depth. Has rich pear and white peach with good weight and texture, as well as a saline twist. Some richness, too. 94/100

Saint Cosme Hominis Fides Gigondas Blanc 2023 (tank sample)
Clairette. This is very delicate and fine with bright lemony fruit as well as some pear and a touch of chalkiness. Has a slight salinity and shows lovely finesse. 93/100

Sainte Cosme Le Poste Gigondas Blanc 2023 (tank sample)
Tortonian limestone like Barbaresco, from the plot by the chapel. Clairette planted in 1964. Lively, bright and linear with nice pear and peach fruit with lovely finesse. There’s a spicy twist to the ripe fruit. 93/100

Saint Cosme Gigondas Classic 2022 France
This is the main wine from Saint Cosme, and it’s 70% Grenache and then equal parts Mourvèdre and Syrah. They only work with 100% whole bunches, wild yeast and minimal intervention (total SO2 is around 40 ppm). Floral and expressive with nice raspberry and cherry fruit with good freshness and structure. Nice grippy tannins with an intense, primary character and a slight saltiness. 94/100

Saint Cosme Gigondas Classic 2021 France
Open, bright, lively and saline with juicy red cherry fruit and some nice spiciness. This shows lovely presence: it’s almost Pinot Noir like. Good tannins here: a lovely expressive Gigondas. 94/100

Saint Cosme Gigondas Le Claux 2022 France
This is from the old Grenache block next to the main vineyard with some vines from 1880. Elegant but concentrated with good structure. Amazing intensity with lovely grip and focused cherry and raspberry fruit, with good acidity and some liquorice notes. Very fine. 96/100

Saint Cosme Gigondas Le Claux 2021 France
Some meat and olive richness to the nose. Bright and linear with good focus on the palate with some fine spicy notes. Peppery and linear this has good tannins, and it should age well. Tight and focused. 95/100

Saint Cosme Gigondas Hominis Fides 2022 France
This is from sandy soils deposited by the Miocene sea. Supple and bright with lively red cherry and redcurrant fruit with hints of iodine and some firm tannins. Nice precision with purity, clarity and focus. Monumental with lots of potential for ageing. 96/100

Saint Cosme Gigondas Hominis Fides 2021 France
Lively, bright and juicy with nice acidity and some firm tannins under the linear raspberry and cherry fruit. Great focus and good ageing potential. 94/100

Saint Cosme Gigondas Le Poste Gigondas Rouge 2022
Bright, lively and vivid with nice acidity and fresh black cherry fruit, with some sweet plums and blackberry, as well as a twist of iodine and gravel. Nice freshness (that isn’t acidity) and some salty notes. 95/100

Saint Cosme Gigondas Le Poste Gigondas Rouge 2021
There’s nice richness here: it’s textural and fine with nice bright black cherries and plums. Very textural with nice finesse, showing some saline notes as well as pepper and olive. 95/100

Saint Cosme Gigondas Rouge 2006
This was an old vine cuvée that he no longer makes. Some maturity on the nose with a touch of earth, spice and iodine. The palate is focused with nice freshness and density to the blackberry and plum fruit, with some sweet earthy hints as well as strawberry notes. Ageing beautifully. 95/100

126 Rte des Florëts, 84190 Gigondas
04 90 65 80 80

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