The Gigondas appellation now applies to white wines

 After celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of being awarded growth status in 2021, the appellation – which fits snugly within the boundaries of the village of Gigondas in northern Vaucluse – will also be available as a white wine starting with the 2023 vintage.

At its national committee meeting on Thursday 8 September 2022, the National Institute for Origin and Quality (INAO) voted unanimously in favour of a request to extend AOC Gigondas to white wines, marking the culmination of an 11-year process. In 2011, the Gigondas producers’ organisation (ODG), set up a working party of winegrowers and negociants to examine the issue and experiments were conducted with white grapes grown in various parts of the appellation area. In 2018, the quality of the trials prompted the organisation’s board to approve plans to change production specifications. It proposed that Clairette blanche become the main grape variety (at least 70%), fermented on its own or blended with the traditional Rhone Valley grape varieties grown in Gigondas (Bourboulenc blanc, Clairette rose, Grenache blanc and gris, Marsanne blanche, Piquepoul blanc and Roussanne). Two secondary grape varieties, Viognier and Ugni blanc, cannot represent more than 5% of the varietal range.

Although most of the former blocks of white grape varieties have been replaced by red varieties since appellation status was awarded to reds and rosés in 1971, several estates have continued to make white wines in Gigondas, despite having to label them with the ‘lesser’ Côtes du Rhône appellation. Currently, over 16 hectares have been planted with white varieties by some thirty companies, which is more than for Gigondas rosé (as per the computerised vineyard register for the 2019/2020 campaign). The dynamics and desire to move forward are tangible and a dozen or so producers aim to plant white grape varieties over the coming years, bringing the share of companies making Gigondas white wines up to 15% in less than five years’ time.

This is understandable considering the impressive potential for producing white wines in the vineyards of Gigondas. The sites produce clean, chiselled wines, mirroring the huge cliff faces that jut out from the Dentelles de Montmirail, the wooded uplands surrounding the village. Limestone, the common thread between a mosaic of complex, varied soil types, imparts minerality and freshness, a major advantage in an era of global warming. On the palate, notes of linden and acacia are supported by a long acidic backbone, creating wines that are sure to appeal to lovers of terroir-driven wines mirroring the landscapes of the places where they were born.

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