Domaine du Gour de Chaulé
The Domaine du Gour de Chaulé, situated in the heart of the village of Gigondas, was founded in 1900 by Eugene Bonfils, the great-grandfather of the current proprietor, Stephanie Fumoso. All the wine produced at the estate was sold in bulk to negociants until 1970 when Madame Rolande Beaumet, Eugene’s daughter and the grandmother of Stéphanie, began to bottle a small percentage of the estate’s wine for sale to private clients. Madame Beaumet’s daughter, Aline Bonfils, ascended to the head of the domaine in the early 1980s and it was under the direction of Aline that the tradition of estate bottling expanded significantly. We arrived at her doorstep virtually at that same moment and, from that day, we became the exclusive representative in the USA of the Domaine du Gour de Chaulé, purchasing increasingly more important quantities of this classic version of Gigondas.
The domaine comprises 15 hectares, 10 of which are within Gigondas with the remaining 5 hectares situated in the surrounding communes of Vacqueyras and Violes. Aline Bonfils believes strongly in Grenache as the heart and soul of Gigondas and she has transmitted this philosophy to her daughter, Stéphanie. Thus, 85% of the vineyards are planted to Grenache, with approximately 10% dedicated to Syrah and Mourvedre and the balance planted to Cinsault. Further, this family has always conducted their affairs with the understanding that minimal intervention in the vineyards and in the cave is essential to preserving the essential character of the wines of this important appellation. Note, particularly, that the red wines here are produced from grapes that are not destemmed, an approach that we believe is essential to provide the classic character of Gigondas.
The Domaine du Gour de Chaulé is one of the most important domaines in the RWM portfolio, not only in terms of volume of wine purchased but with respect, as well, to the depth of mutual commitment between our two families. We are continually impressed by the consistent high quality, the exceptional value and the faithful representation of the essence of this appellation that issue from this estate annually. We are honored to present the three wines of Gour de Chaulé.
Cotes du Rhone
A small amount of Cotes du Rhone is produced from the vineyards owned by the estate in the communes of Vacqueyras and Violes. As with the more noble Gigondas, this cuvée is based almost exclusively on the Grenache grape (approximately 90% of the blend annually). It is vinified in a fashion similar to the Gigondas except that the elevage is less long. This is to say that there is an extended cuvaison with stems included, malolactic is done in cuve and the wine sees a brief stay in large foudres before being bottled eighteen months after harvest without fining or filtration. We purchase the overwhelming majority of this wine for sale in the USA (approximately 2400 bottles per annum).
The Rosé at Gour de Chaulé is made from the direct press method. The juice is quickly drawn off the skins (6 to 9 hours of contact), then fermented. A cold stabilization follows. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation and is bottled in the early spring of the year following harvest. The Rosé is composed of Cinsault (50%), Grenache, and Mourvedre. This is a brilliantly colored wine with hues of pink and rose accompanied by flavors and a bouquet dominated by the impression of freshly crushed strawberries. Again, a limited amount of this wine is produced annually, only enough for us to have 1200 bottles per year for the US market.
There are several important vineyard sites that form the base of the Gigondas that comes to the USA, including Gour de Chaulé, Les Blaches, and Les Bousquets. The average age of the Grenache vines planted within these plots is 55 years (as of 2011). Production levels generally average 30 to 32 hectoliters per hectare. The grapes are harvested manually and are never destemmed. There is a three week cuvaison. A small amount of press juice is added back to the cuvee. Malolactic fermentation takes place in cuve and, after the malolactic fermentation is complete, the wine is racked into large oak "foudres" where it stays for approximately 18 months. The wine is racked no more than three times before it is bottled - unfined and unfiltered - 30 to 36 months after harvest. New oak is not used at this domaine. The resulting wine is sturdy, braced with sweet, dusty tannins, and is intensely aromatic with notes of crushed white pepper, oriental spices and game. We purchase approximately 12,000 bottles of Gigondas each vintage and always draw a considerable number of magnums as well.