Domaine du Grand Bourjassot, Gigondas

Domaine du Grand Bourjassot label

Country & RegionFrance, Southern Rhône
ProducerCécile and Jean-Yves Perez
Founded1993; Cécile took the reins in 2005

Domaine du Grand Bourjassot farms 10 acres of vines on the great western slope of Gigondas, rolling down from the old fortified village to the Ouvèze River on the edge of the Plan de Dieu. The appellation extends well up into the Dentelles behind the village and includes a swath on the upper eastern side of the mountains, but the heart and soul of Gigondas is its great slope.

In 2000 I tasted at Grand Bourjassot. This was back in the Michel-Schlumberger days, and I went with Pascal Roux, who at the time owned Domaine du Trignon and Domaine des Sénéchaux. Pascal knew that we were looking for Gigondas and he recommended Bourjassot. For one reason or another nothing panned out, but the wines were good. Stranger still, and completely unknown to me at the time, exactly one year later a young Jean-Yves Perez worked the harvest at Michel-Schlumberger as an intern. He went on to marry Cécile Varenne, a fellow enologist running things at Bourjassot, and these two contacted us out of the blue in 2018.

Domaine du Grand Bourjassot's Jean-Yves and Cécile Perez

Bourjassot opened its doors in 1993 when Pierre and Marie-Claude Varenne pulled from the cooperative and began to make their own wine. Pierre had inherited vines in Gigondas; Marie-Claude had inherited vines in Sablet, and once the paperwork was completed they started on their way. In 2001 their daughter Cécile finished her studies and returned to the domain. In 2005 she took the reins.

In the years since Cécile bought additional parcels and today the domain farms 20 acres. Ten of those are in Gigondas, followed by just over seven in neighboring Sablet to the north (with a parcel further north in Séguret), and just over an acre to the south in Vacqueyras.

The domain’s vines in Gigondas are divided into five parcels: two up slope in calcareous soil near the village, and three down slope in alluvial soils. Notably, the bedrock of Gigondas is limestone in contrast to Châteauneuf on the other side of the plain, which is based on ancient glacial and river wash composed of sand, clay, and gravel. Limestone accounts for much of Gigondas’ inherent lift and mineral edginess.

Domaine du Grand Bourjassot Pierre and Cécile Perez

Grand Bourjassot’s vines are all on that acclaimed slope. Its higher parcels have Mourvèdre; the lower ones have Syrah; and both contain Grenache. The average age of the vines is in excess of 65 years, and the overall vineyard composition is 70% Grenache, 22% Syrah, and 8% Mourvèdre. These include a parcel of centennial Grenache that has no history of chemical farming.

As for the name, Bourjassot (bour-jass-so), it’s also the name of the sector in Sablet where Cécile’s mother’s family had its vines. They farmed two parcels in that zone, one named Bourjassot du Bois and the other Grand Bourjassot. When Pierre and Marie-Claude married and began their life, they baptized their domain in Gigondas with that name to harken back to their Sablet roots.

In 2012 Cécile received certification for organic production, but subsequently quit because her parcels in Gigondas are fragmented and adjacent to parcels that are farmed conventionally. Testing occasionally picked up traces of chemicals that blew onto her vines, leaving her exposed to a possible accusation of fraud, which isn’t something anyone wants to deal with. So she pulled from the certifying agency but continues to farm organically. (It’s worth noting that her husband Jean-Yves Perez’s family domain of L’Obrieu in Visan is certified; its vines are in a largely homogeneous block surrounded by forest, thus easily worked organically. Cécile and Jean-Yves make decisions together regarding both L’Obrieu and Grand Bourjassot.)

The logo of a shield emblazoned with a horse comes from Pierre. He has a passion for horses, Spanish ones in particular, and today his granddaughters, Cécile’s kids, ride two Spanish mares that are stabled at the domain. The connection extends to those who help harvest the bounty. Every year from Andalusia comes Manuel and his family to pick grapes. They’ve been doing so going on thirty years now.

The Wines

Gigondas Classique
70% Grenache, 22% Syrah, and 8% MourvèdreThis is the domain’s primary production. Vines are in excess of 65-years of age on average. Following hand-harvesting, fermentation is done whole cluster, grapes are lightly crushed, and the cuvaison lasts for around 15 days. The wine is subsequently raised in tank. No fining, and only a light filtration at bottling. Production averages around 700 cases.
Giogondas Cuvée Cécile70% Grenache, 22% Syrah, and 8% MourvèdreFirst made by Cécile’s father in 1998, this is the top wine. Vines average more than 65-years of age and are hand-harvested. This cuvée is a selection of the best vats following the alcoholic fermentation and is raised almost all in barrel (20% new) over a period of eight to ten months. Whole cluster, no fining, and a very light filtration. Production averages 350 cases.