Domaine de Pierredon Côtes du Rhône Villages Signargues 2022


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Alcohol: 14%

Grape(s): 50% Grenache, 50% Mourvèdre

Localization: Rhone Valley, France

Tasting Notes: Named for the Plateau de Signargues which was created in much the same manor as its neighbor Châteauneuf-du-Pape, through centuries of river wash and ancient melting glaciers. The resultant terroir of these river terraces contributes both breadth and concentration to this warm spicy and generous bottle of value-driven Cotes du Rhone.

Notes: The name Signargues, pronounced see-nargues, refers to the plateau: Plateau de Signargues. This plateau was created by the same forces that created the nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape plateau—it’s an ancient glacier and river wash from back when the glaciers were melting and the Rhone River was much bigger than it is now. The composition is clay, sand, and galets roulés (those large, polished stones). This is a fundamentally different terroir from Gigondas or Cairanne or Beaumes de Venise. In the latter, the soils owe their origins to erosion from mountainous uplifts rather than from glacial deposits. They are limestone-based and tend to be more edgy in flavors and mouth-feel, with a more pronounced sense of minerality. The river terrace terroirs give the wine more power and breadth of flavor--a flavor profile that is far more broad than pointed.

The Domain: Located near the town of Estézargues (es-tay-zargue) in the Côtes du Rhône, Pierredon is an old family operation with 70 hectares (173 acres) of vines managed today by Miryam and Christian Granier. The climate is classically Mediterranean: hot and dry, with a strong influence of the Mistral, the famous wind that roars off the Alps and down through the Rhône Valley to the Mediterranean. The domain grows both olives and grapes and tends its orchards and vineyards organically.  In 2012 it started down the regulatory path of certification and was fully certified organic with the 2015 vintage.

The Graniers are one of ten primary members of the Estézargues co-op (measured by vineyard surface, they are the second most important member). In addition, some 20-odd secondary members sell their grapes to the co-op from less than a couple of hectares. What has set this cooperative apart in France, and made it one of the very best—if not the best—in the country, is its cuvée policy and its natural winemaking ethic. Starting in 1995, the co-op began making specific cuvées entirely from the best grapes of a given primary member and naming the cuvée after the specific domain. Following on the heels of that practice was the institution of a set of rules governing winemaking: no adding of yeast or enzymes, no addition of SO2 except at bottling, and no fining or filtration. This was and is possible because the co-op is relatively small; because its members are serious growers; and because it has a serious president.

Domaine Pierredon has only two individual cuvées made at the co-op: a Côtes du Rhône and a Côtes du Rhône Villages named “Signargues.” There is a significant difference in the appellation controlée rules governing the two legal categories. The Villages designation comes with stricter controls, mainly that the vines grow in demonstrably better sites than simple Côtes du Rhône (normally higher elevation, with better air and water drainage and less rich soils), and that the yields are required to be lower. We carry the Signargues Villages cuvée, and the photo above is of one of its vineyard parcels on the plateau.