Domaine de Pierredon, Côtes du Rhône
California sales only
|Country & Region||France, Rhône Valley|
|Appellation(s)||Côtes du Rhône Villages|
|Producer||Miryam and Christian Granier|
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, there are 20-odd secondary members who 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 individual 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.
|Côtes du Rhône Villages "Signargues": ||50% Grenache, |
|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 and, a bit farther north, the terrace where Mas de Libian grows its vines—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. In the river terrace terroirs, there’s usually more power and breadth of flavor in these wines, a flavor profile that is far more broad than it is pointed.
Pierredon has the good fortune to have significant plantings of Mourvèdre, which contributes depth and structure to Grenache's overt generosity. Mourvèdre also ripens at considerably lower levels of potential alcohol, thus has the benefit of lowering the level of any blend with Grenache.