Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Domaine les Goubert Gigondas, 1988

Nearing its 20th birthday, this is about as perfect a Gigondas as anyone could expect--mature and drinking beautifully with no signs of old age. It is a deep, dark color with good brilliance. (For some reason, Gigondas wines are nearly always darker in color than Chateauneufs of the same vintage). It has the perfect combination of Gigondas beauty and power. There are whiffs of sweet spring flowers on the nose along with black and red berries, meat and Provencal herbs. Also some vanilla, although this is an unoaked cuvee. The wine has a big, muscular body but it's also supple, gliding smoothly across the palate and leaving lingering flavors and textures--all ripe and lovely with no hard edges. This is a perfect match for New York strip steak, but it would also be good with grilled Venison.

Now run by Jean-Pierre and Mireille Cartier, Domaine les Goubert is another Southern Rhone estate with a long family history. The 23 hectares of old, gnarled vines have belonged to the Goubert family since 1636, with Augusta Goubert passing the property to her son, Jean-Pierre Cartier. Goubert was the first estate in the region to produce a wine raised in new oak--the Cuvee Florence, named after their daughter. That was the wine I was expecting to buy when I went to the communal tasting room in the Medieval village of Gigondas on a visit to the Southern Rhone in the early 1990s. Robert Parker had given praise and high rankings to the Cuvee Florence (as well as Brusset's oak-aged Gigondas, Les Hauts des Montmirail), and I went to the tasting room with high expectations. When I expressed my interest in these oak-aged wines, French locals there urged me to try the traditional bottlings, which were at least 50 percent cheaper. And, after careful tasting and comparison, I decided they were right. In their youth, the oak-aged Gigondas wines have the stately demeanor of a New World Cabernet, but they lack the power and finesse of a good traditional Gigondas. And my experience is that the international-styled wines do not age as well. My bottles of Les Hauts des Montmirail from 1988 and 1989 tasted a bit oxidized several years ago, while this wine is still youthful.


  1. Bravo to you for having the discipline to age this wine without giving into temptation. It seems you were well rewarded for your patience. I have long been a fan of this estate and fondly remember the 88, which I was importing into Chicago at the time.

  2. You were probably importing the Goubert Beaumes de Venises as well. I bought quite a bit of this Beaumes de Venises as well as the Gigondas in Chicago in the early and mid-1980s. Both were very good wines and very good values.

    I think this is the oldest Goubert I have, but I have some Cayron Gigondas going back to 1980 and 1981. I don't go to them often, but they have never disappointed.

  3. i am just opening a bottle of les hauts de montmirail 1988 gigondas\

    My father got it as a gift(Thanksgiving 1988) 20 years ago....Birthday yes...its Thanksgiving...2008

  4. Mr. Lee,
    I'm anxious to know how the 1988 les Haut des Montmirail shows at 20years of age. Feel free to post a tasting note.

    I had several bottles of this but drank the last about 8 to 10 years ago. It was a very fine wine, but, as I say, I prefer the traditional style. I have one bottle of the 1990 Les Haut des Montmirail in the cellar and was thinking that I should open it soon.

  5. I just found a bottle of Domaine du Cayron Gigondas 1988. Drink now? Too late? Thanks.

  6. Cayron is, IMO, the most ageworthy of all Gigondas...and my favorite. I still have several bottles of 1988 Cayron (plus a bottle or two from 1986, 1985, 1981 and 1980). I have been trying them off and on and would be very surprised and disappointed if any of these vintages failed to deliver pleasure. The 1988 was particularly lively the last time I had it, but it has always had a whiff of stinkiness (SO2?)--not enough to put me off from the wine and reason for me to think this wine could still improve with age. Cayron is always a tad alcoholic but that's what gives it power, and my bottles from 1980 and 1981 have hung in there miraculously. Makes me thirsty to open a bottle. If it's been well stored, and you like Gigondas, I think you'll enjoy it.