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 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.
Gigondas: A Sleepy Little Town with a Big Beautiful Wine
Gigondas, along with the neighboring Provencal villages of Vacqueyras and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, produces the finest red wines of the southern Rhône. Relying upon old vines of Grenache, married to lesser quantities of Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault, Gigondas turns out a startling array of big, beautiful, tasty reds from nearly 2,500 acres of vineyards. Spanning a combination of soils, from the gravelly clay of the flat plains at the base of the craggy Dentelles de Montmirail to the sheer bedrock of the Dentelles themselves, Gigondas is testament to the belief that in this enchanted corner of Provence known as the Vaucluse one can even extract blood from stones in the form of a vigorous, deeply colored red wine.