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La Ferme du Mont, Gigondas “Jugunda”Southern Rhône Valley, France 2016 (750mL)

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La Ferme du Mont, Gigondas “Jugunda” Southern Rhône Valley, France 2016 (750mL)

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Earth
Body
Tannin
Acid
Alcohol

It’s tempting to refer to Southern Rhône Valley wines like Gigondas and Vacqueyras as “baby Châteauneufs,” but while there are some resemblances, such broad-strokes characterizations do the wines a disservice. Gigondas, in particular, truly deserves to be extricated from the shadow of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It tends to be a little fresher and gentler, hailing as it does from higher-elevation vineyards, and if you are like me and appreciate brighter, redder, more lifted expressions of the Grenache grape, you may well be better off in Gigondas (especially if you cannot find or afford Château Rayas).


La Ferme du Mont’s 2016 “Jugunda” gives Gigondas the spotlight it deserves, showing it to be every bit as complex, layered, and elegant as the best Châteauneufs. The only thing—truly the only thing—missing here is about $30 in price. This 2016 has had a few years in bottle to soften, and is now ready to stretch its legs and show off its astonishing aromatic and textural complexity. It’s an 80%-20% blend of Grenache and Syrah, sourced from old, head-trained vines that have a magical way of concentrating just the right amount of sunshine. Yes, it is deeply concentrated and hedonistic—the perfect antidote to a polar vortex, an atmospheric river, or whatever wintry weather you’re experiencing—but it also hums with the kind of lively energy only the greatest Southern Rhône reds are able to harness. It’s liquid sunshine—a category-best wine at an astonishingly good price!



La Ferme du Mont’s history has been short but decidedly sweet. The first vintages—2005 and 2006—were produced by winemaker Stephane Védeau in collaboration with Coralie Gourmare of the well-respected Domaine Galevan, a ninth-generation estate in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The two worked closely to envision the most sustainable, harmonious, and transparent winegrowing possible. Since then, Stephane has begun producing La Ferme de Mont alone, shifting production from the village of Courthezon to Valres in 2010 as his holdings expanded across the Southern Rhône. 


Stephane now sources fruit from a variety of appellations, including Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages, Vacqueyras, and Gigondas. There are absolutely no shortcuts in his vineyards; he’s farmed using both organic and biodynamic methods to maximize the health of his holdings and their surrounding ecosystems. 


That being said, it’s always baffling to reconcile the harsh landscape of Gigondas with its juicy, supple wines. The rocky slopes are dotted with head-trained vines, bursting from the inhospitable ground like clawed hands searching for sunshine. But that effort on the vines’ part means effortlessness in the glass, and Jugunda works harder than most. The grapes were grown in two distinct types of limestone: fractured limestone with red clay and Jurassic limestone. The former is home to 60-year-old vines, the latter comes from a higher-altitude site perched at 600 meters, nestled in the shadow of the Dentelles de Montmirail. The cooling effects of this small mountain range give aromatic lift and added intensity to the wines. Every year, the blend for the Jugunda changes slightly in reflection of the growing season. The 2016 is an 80%-20% blend of Grenache and Syrah, all hand-harvested and gently aged for 18 months in a mix of second-fill oak barrels and concrete tanks.


The Jugunda is a deep garnet red in the glass. While it offers a burst of dreamy Mediterranean scents right from the bottle, 30 minutes of decanting softens its fine-knit tannins and coaxes out more depth from the finish. On the nose, delicate aromas of cypress wood and sea salt are interlaced with candied raspberries and forest humus. It’s luscious, pure, and juicy on the palate, a hedonistic mouthful of ripe red fruits corseted in chalky tannins. The lighter, more buoyant style is undeniably Gigondas; I love this wine for its balance of unctuousness and uprightness—those minerals! The palate is alive with fresh violets, rose attar, and earthy cherries, a persistent combination that will pair beautifully with a hearty slice of homemade lasagna. The 2016 is a textural triumph at five years old and will continue to silken without losing its density of juiciness. So while I highly recommend opening a bottle now to “check in,” the next five years will add more detail to the story Jugunda is already telling. Spoiler alert: it ends with “Happily ever after!”




La Ferme du Mont, Gigondas “Jugunda” Southern Rhône Valley, France 2016 - SommSelect

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionSouthern Rhône Valley
  • Sub-RegionGigondas
  • SoilClay & Limestone
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendGrenache 80%, Syrah 20%
  • Alcohol14%
  • OakUsed French Barrels
  • Service Temp.60-65° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stem
  • DrinkNow-2028
  • Decanting30 Minutes
  • PairingLasagna Bolognese

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionSouthern Rhône Valley
  • Sub-RegionGigondas
  • SoilClay & Limestone
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendGrenache 80%, Syrah 20%
  • Alcohol14%
  • OakUsed French Barrels
  • Temp.Serve at 60-65° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2028
  • Decanting30 Minutes
  • PairingLasagna Bolognese