The store has developed an extremely strong following for high quality Gigondas. Yes, there is a strong rivalry with neighboring Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but when it comes to quality/price ratio, Gigondas doubles down for the value found. For those of you unfamiliar with these two Southern Rhone village appellations, any underwhelming impressions regarding Grenache will be easily dismissed!
Dominique Ay, the serious-minded proprietor of Domaine Raspail-Ay, makes one of the most iconic wines in all of Gigondas . Its 19 hectares make up one contiguous block of vines, mid-slope on the rugged clay/limestone terraces, the best terroir of the Gigondas appellation. The imposing rock formation of the Dentelles de Montmirail looms above as a backdrop (most extreme terroir in the photograph above!) Everything about Domaine Raspail-Ay Gigondas is traditional: a classic blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre; vinification in concrete, and aging in large oak foudres. Only one wine, consistently ranked among the top wines produced in the appellation year in and year out.
A sample bottle of the stunning 2018 Domaine Raspail-Ay revealed a pedal-to-the-metal, glorious expression of perfectly ripened, intensely focused, strawberry-black raspberry fruit, complimented by fennel-like Mediterranean herbs and an earthy minerality. Plush and mouth filling, but lifted by freshness, and supporting tannins that assure at least 10 years of evolution and drinkability.
"Tasted from foudre, the 2018 Gigondas is dominated by black cherries and licorice. It's full-bodied, rich and velvety, with a long finish. Darker-fruited and extremely promising, it should drink well for well over a decade. 2021-2036. Yields were only half of normal, about 15-16 hectoliters per hectare (about 1 ton per acre). Christophe Ay and his sister Anne-Sophie represent the seventh generation at this venerable family-run estate. Owners of 19 hectares in Gigondas, they produce only Gigondas, and only a single cuvée each year. Plantings are 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, all on the plain in front of the village, not on any of the high-elevation sites in the Dentelles. The grapes are all destemmed, then fermented in vats using indigenous yeasts before élevage in old foudres for at least two years. Christophe points out that the mildew attack in May-June 2018 left small yields of only 15-16 hectoliters per hectare, but the resulting wines have good acidity and long aging potential. He compares it to 2015 or 2007 (both excellent vintages at this address).” - Barrel Sample (93-95 points) - Wine Advocate (August 2019)