Domaine Raspail-Ay is one of our favorite Rhône estates. It is easy to like Dominique Ay, the affable but serious minded proprietor of Domaine Raspail-Ay, and just as easy to be charmed by the warm, seductive Gigondas he coaxes from his 40 acre domain. Located on the terraces of the rugged Gigondas appellation, the last outcropping of the mighty alpine chain with the imposing rock formation of the Dentelles de Montmirail looming as a backdrop, this classic southern Rhône estate produces each vintage no more than 8,000 cases of a single wine – a superb Gigondas. Although rich and full-flavored, Dominique Ay’s Gigondas is made in a more sophisticated and fruit driven style of wine than what many of his neighbors favor, and it is better for it.
The Gigondas of Domaine Raspail-Ay is an artful blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre that is always ripe, generous, and rich on the palate. One can always count on this estate to fashion a wine with a mouthful of ripe, dark fruits – black cherries, cassis, and raspberries – with notes of licorice and black pepper in the background. Curiously, the tannins of this domain’s ethereal Gigondas always appear ripe and supple, too, mellowed no doubt by a hiatus of 20 months or more in large, ancient oak foudres. In addition, Monsieur Ay ages his wine several more months in old demi-muids in his refreshingly cool chais. The result is a wine with ripe, dark fruit aromas and a supple, rich texture that belie its 14% plus alcohol content. Miraculously, the fruit lasts all the way from beginning to end, before exploding in a long, ripe, satisfying finish.