Grape(s): 55% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre
Localization: Vacqueras, Southern Rhone, France
Tasting Notes: Aromas of black fruits, lavender, wild herbs; flavors of black raspberries and light smoke. Smooth tannins; baking spices.
Notes: Hand-harvested. Partially destemmed (80%) and lightly crushed, then fermented on indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled cement tanks. Aged in cement tank (35%) and in older, neutral French oak barrels (4 years old) and demi-muids (4-10 years old). Wine is moved via gravity; bottled unfined and unfiltered, with minimal sulfur addition.
Food pairing: Pair this wine alongside red meat, charcuterie laced with black pepper, or roasted pork with fresh herbs.
The Domain: Thierry and Gilles Faravel have serious mountaineer credentials in Gigondas. While other altitude-challenged winemakers stick to vineyards at the foot of the towering Dentelles de Montmirail, these brothers are proud to stake a claim further up these dizzying granite slopes.
This is mountain terroir, with cooler weather, demanding soils, and a mix of limestone and clay. The family's Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre vines are mostly older (between 30 and 50 years) and are very low-yielding. Because of the ideal conditions here, Thierry Faravel explained that they are the last Domaine in Gigondas almost every vintage to start the harvest—the combination of exposure and altitude allows grapes to ripen slowly and evenly. What this means for the wine is more elegance and freshness, which is certainly what you'll discover in every one of the Faravels' unique mountain cuvées.
Thierry and Gilles grew up in Gigondas and learned much from their winemaking father, Antonin, who Thierry described as a “weekend winemaker.” While he worked at another Domaine, Antonin would tend his family plots only on the weekends when he had free time. For almost two decades the family sold their fruit from these mountain plots until they decided in 1979 to start bottling wines themselves.
Today, the Faravels are considered one of the leading artisan winemakers in Gigondas, if not in the whole southern Rhône valley. Since the late 80s, the family has been dedicated to organic farming, using organic fertilizers and as little sulfates as possible in their wines. “You have to respect the wine,” says Thierry, and this shows: the harvest is always by hand, and wines are never pumped but led from tank to barrel via gravity. Vinification is always as natural as possible, each vintage dictating how the brothers handle each varietal through fermentation and aging. Wines are seldom fined or filtered—to quote Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, these wines are "vibrant" and utterly alive. Domaine la Bouïssiere wines, with their rich complexity and stunning freshness, definitely deserve serious real-estate in any serious cellar—10, 15 years is the norm for these impressive, long-lived cuvées.