2017 Domaine Pierre Gonon St. Joseph Rouge
Region: France, Northern Rhône
Farming: Certified Organic
Dry, med-bodied red; clear and pure | Offal, game birds, iron-rich foods
100% Syrah from vines with an average age of 30 years. Fruit is sourced from 7.5 hectares of vines, including 2.5 hectares of up to 90-year-old vines bought from Raymond Trollat.
Partially destemmed, fermentation in foudre or demi-muid, 14 - 16 months ageing
If ever a single producer has succeeded in becoming synonymous with their appellation, Domaine Pierre Gonon could be it. The eponymous Pierre Gonon founded the winery in the same year when the appellation of Saint-Joseph was declared in 1956. Since it passed on to his sons Jean and Pierre in 1989, their infinite care and no-frills approach has earned them a worldwide reputation and waiting lists for every vintage.
The appellation is centred around the town of Saint-Joseph and a few neighbouring villages, including Mauves where Pierre Gonon started planting vines on the best granitic bedrock sites. Saint-Joseph is directly across the river from Hermitage, but the East-facing slopes expose vines to less sunlight. This gives the appellation a freshness that contrasts with other styles in the Northern Rhône.
The brothers' careful and calculated expansion by another 1.2 hectares was a combination of taking rootstocks from their best vines to ensure continuity of style across the Domaine, and also buying land from Raymond Trollat, a legend of Saint-Joseph who retired in 2005 with no heirs to take over his land. As the appellation expanded in the early-1970s, other producers were tempted to bloat yields. But Domaine Gonon has consistently worked with smaller yields to preserve quality, never exceeding 38l/ha. In addition, their traditional vineyard and winery methods are more time-consuming: hand-harvesting, wines are fermented in old oak vessels, pigéage by foot, and native yeasts only.