Note: This is a re-post of the original email we sent out for 'Pierre Gonon - St. Joseph 2011' on November 23rd, 2014.
“The benchmark Saint Joseph domaine.”
John Livingstone-Learmonth - The Wines of the Northern Rhône
There are very few producers of Syrah in the world that we at Cork Culture respect as much as Jean and Pierre Gonon in the quiet appellation of Saint Joseph.
For decades these two brothers have been making traditional, soulful wines far removed from the modern influences of the international wine industry.
Their father Pierre tenderly farmed this estate in Mauves before handing over control to the brothers in 1989. Eschewing the increasingly popular trend of making single-vineyard wines reminiscent of Burgundy, the brothers produce their flagship wine: 'Saint-Joseph Rouge', from biodynamically grown grapes on steep, granite-blessed soils to highlight the distinct character of the appellation.
And that’s not to say that they don’t have some of the most exceptional vineyards in Saint-Joseph. When Raymond Trollat, the most legendary producer the region has ever seen, retired in 2005, who did he sell and betrust his beloved vineyards to?
Of course, Jean and Pierre.
Over the past few decades while many winemakers from Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape have strayed, over-oaking and over-extracting their grapes to produce blockbuster, alcoholic wines, the wines of Pierre Gonon have always remained somewhat the same: transparent, pure, and incredibly age-worthy.
You can imagine how they work: natural fermentation, no new oak, low sulphites, and extremely low yields.
With Hong Kong forever on the brink of winter, it may seem premature that this week’s offer is such a meaty and savoury wine. But just like how patience is required for the cold winds that will eventually come, so too is it needed for Saint-Joseph 2011, a Syrah redolent of wild blackberries, charred meat, violets, and black olives. Yet it is always the vivid exuberance of Gonon’s acidity and minerality that keep the wine exciting vintage after vintage.
These are wines that won’t enter their prime drinking window until at least 2017, and they’ll age gracefully over the next two decades. Still, if you are planning to enjoy one now – do so with an excellent cut of grass-aged beef.