Domaine Les Pallières, “Terrasse du Diable”, Gigondas, Rhône, France, 2018
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Overview of the Wine
Domaine Les Pallières is undeniably one of the greatest, longest-running properties of the Southern Rhône—outside the village of Gigondas, woven into the foothills of the beautiful and brooding Dentelles de Montmirail. The domaine had been a continuously running farm within the same family since the fifteenth century! Les Pallières was once a famous domaine with wines of impeccable character, yet the property had slowly fallen into disrepair. Two great frosts of the twentieth century had killed off many of the olive and fruit trees, and both the winery and the vineyards were badly in need of repairs. By 1998, the Roux brothers wanted to make a change. With no future successors to take their place, they decided to sell.
The Brunier brothers, Daniel and Frédéric, of the famed Vieux Télégraphe in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, were rising stars in the Southern Rhône at the time, having distinguished themselves time and time again with world class wines. A casual discussion over lunch at Chez Panisse between Daniel and Kermit Lynch, the Brunier’s longtime American importer, spontaneously turned into a game plan to revive the faded jewel—Les Pallières. Though the competition to buy the domaine was fierce with very reputable names in the mix, the Roux brothers finally decided to sell to the Bruniers and Kermit. After decades of neglect, Pallières’ renaissance had begun.
A focus on the terroir and its potential soon led to a clear, new direction. The vineyards range from 250-400 meters in altitude, with varying proportions of sand and clay interwoven with limestone scree descending from the Dentelles. Terraces were built and reinforced, allowing for better water retention. A new winery was built to receive the harvested parcels individually in gravity-fed tanks. The many lieux-dits, once blended into one cuvée of Gigondas, have been separated into two, starting with the 2007 vintage, in an effort to best express two remarkable personalities. Cuvée “Terrasse du Diable,” encompasses the low-yielding vines from the higher altitudes that express great structure and intense minerality. Cuvée “Les Racines” showcases the vineyard parcels surrounding the winery—the origin of the domaine with the oldest vines—with the emphasis on freshness and extravagant cornucopian fruit.
Sustainable and Organic.
Grape / Blend
85% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre
Gigondas, Rhône, France
Winemaker's Tasting Notes
The Grenache is turned up to 90% for this high-altitude cuvée. The vines (averaging only fifty years) are planted on terraces that nestle against the imposing limestone cliffs of Les Dentelles de Montmirail. For those of you who just can’t wait, open the Terrasse du Diable a good two or three hours before serving. Notes of black olive and licorice, mint, eucalyptus, and rosemary will fill the room once uncorked.
95 Points - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2018 Gigondas Terrasse du Diable comes from yields that ended up being approximately half of the average for the estate (only 11 hectoliters per hectare). It's full-bodied, with a rich yet silky texture, ripe flavors of cherries and raspberries and a long finish that hints at clove and licorice. The exact blend for the domaine's wines was yet to be finalized when I tasted this sample, but historically, this cuvée is about 85% Grenache and 15% Mourvèdre.
93 Points - James Suckling
The fruit for this is sourced from elevated terraces (above 300m) and the depth and rich, dark cherries and plums are stunning. Rich red plums, mulberries, chocolate and plenty of tannin here. Sapid, chalky finish. A blend of 85% grenache and 15% mourvedre. 70% de-stemmed and 30% crushed with stems.
92 Points - Jeb Dunnuck
Moving to the two 2018s, the 2018 Gigondas Terrasse Du Diable is primarily Grenache that comes from higher elevation, terraced vineyards in the easter side of the Gigondas appellation. Offering lots of spiced red fruits, dried flowers, graphite, and some obvious minerality, this beauty is medium to full-bodied, has a seamless, elegant texture, and a great finish. It’s another no brainer Gigondas from this estate to enjoy over the coming 10-15 years.
Product size: 750ml