Rhone producer Saint Cosme is located north of the village of Gigondas and is the oldest estate in this region in France. The estate is built on the site of a Gallo-Roman villa, which was thought to have its own vineyard – a document from 1416 mentions that Jean de Chalon, Prince of Orange, granted ‘land for the planting of vines on the Sainte Cosme slopes’.
Louis Barruol has run the property since 1992, which has been in the family’s possession since 1570. The estate has 15 hectares of vines, averaging 60 years old, situated around the domain and the old Roman Saint Cosme chapel. There’s a diversity of soils in the three vineyards as Sainte Cosme is sited at the crossing of two geological faults. Le Poste has limestone marl with a small proportion of sand and produces the most feminine and refined of Saint Cosme’s wines. Le Claux has yellow limestone clay with fine gravel on the surface and produces Gigondas with a Burgundian feel because of their finesse and complexity, while the sandy, very limestoney soil of the Hominis Fides vineyards combines with Grenache to produce well-textured wines with refined tannins. Louis Barruol says, ‘Le Claux is the largest field at Saint Cosme (1.8 ha) and it is maybe the best. Hominis has probably more depth and Le Poste is a more charming wine, but I have this idea that La Claux might be the best “old wine”. We will know the truth about this in ten years’ time.
Grapes grown include the usual Rhone gang of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvedre, Clairette, Cinsault, Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne and Picpoul de Pinet. They generally work by hand at Sainte Cosme with the aim of making wines which express their terroir with purity and personality in this cool and late-ripening microclimate.
Louis’ wines, which have become some of the most well-known from the appellation and which have been organic since 2010, go through a long maceration period and are bottled without filtration, then aged in the new cellar that was built in 2007.
More to accompany a special dinner than for everyday drinking, these wines are showing more complex flavours and some will improve with a few more years of ageing. Includes Pinot Noir, a wine that tends to be lighter in colour, body and tannins because of the grape’s thin skin. As the wine matures it develops gamey characteristics and much fuller fruit flavours.
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