Wines to Seek Out
The Brunier family has multiple estates within the Southern Rhône, including Domaine La Roquète, Piedlong and, most notably, Vieux Télégraphe in Châteauneuf-du-Pape as well as and Mégaphone in Ventoux, and Le Pigeoulet in the Vaucluse.
If given the choice between a bottle of Vieux Télégraphe's "La Crau" or either of the Brunier family's red Gigondas wines, I'd go for the Gigondas, but just barely. There is something wildly original yet indicative of place with "Terrasse du Diable" and "Racines," and its immediately noticeable. You won't be waiting around years to find out (though I would still encourage aging these wines just to see where they go).
Les Pallières “Terrasse du Diable” Gigondas
The difference between Les Pallières' two red Gigondas wines is altitude. From 250 to 400 meters (roughly 825 feet to 1,300 feet) the fruit will go into "Terrasse du Diable." Under that mark, it goes into "Racines." Walking through these vineyards — which caresses the undulating lower folds of the Dentelles de Montmirail — those lines are a bit blurred, but it essentially means that the hillside vines closest to the forest go into this cuvée, while those surrounding the winery (pictured above) go into Racines.
Incredibly, this difference does not seem to yield a cooler-climate style as one might expect. "Terrasse du Diable" is a little broader in stature, a little spicier on the palate and more earthy on the nose. The real difference — as it relates to altitude — is felt in the tannins, which are finer grained and sleeker here. Daniel Brunier told me that in 2007, it was this difference that prompted them to separate the two vineyards as such.
Les Pallières “Racines” Gigondas
This wine was included in the Top 12 Wines of 2023. When I first tasted it in May of that year, it was so evocative that I resolved to visit the vineyard later that year when I was scheduled to be nearby (and by "nearby," I mean our booked hotel was an hour and 15 minutes away. "How about a day in Gigondas?" I proposed to my wife).
That visit served to further illuminate the natural beauty of this wine's origin. "Racines" does not have the altitude or proximity to forest quite like the vines used in "Terrasse du Diable," but they seem to be more regularly open to air currents, which yields a fresher, more mineral take on the wine. Of the two, "Racines" is also more seductively fruity and citric, which builds and carries through to the wine's wonderful finish.
Les Pallières Gigondas Blanc de Noir
This pale-colored wine is a Grenache-focused blanc de noir that is surprisingly fleshy and earthy for the style. Bursting as well with aromas of strawberry and orange peel, it shares the tremendous persistence found in the red wines.