Saint Damien's Glorious Cotes du Rhones

Saint Damien's Glorious Cotes du Rhones

Saint Damien makes reference-point Gigondas, but they also make two stunning, value-priced, and gorgeous Cotes du Rhones. Trust me, these aren't your typical, straightforward CDR's. They are substantial wines with more flavor dimension and complexity, and for buyers who don't want to spend $40+ for Saint Damien's Gigondas', these two cuvees are perfect alternatives.

Although I loved this estate's 2019 Cotes du Rhones, their 2020's are even better. Trust me, I've been drinking Saint Damien's wines for two decades, and I feel 100% confident making that statement. Although both of these wines are fantastic, please note that they are very different blends with very different personalities.

Up first, the estate's 2020 Plan de Dieu Vieilles Vignes is in very fine form this year. I had a bottle over the weekend, and it honestly smells and tastes like one of their Gigondas', but it's much softer and more accessible. The blend here, 80% Grenache planted in 1949 and 20% Mourvedre planted in 1978, is identical to the blend for all of their Gigondas' bottlings.

Saint Damien Plan de Dieu Vieilles Vignes

1. 2020 Saint Damien Plan de Dieu Vieilles Vignes

Drinks like a softer, plusher, more open-knit Gigondas. - 93 points - JS


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If you're wondering what Plan de Dieu is, it is the region directly west of Gigondas. 
The Saurel family have farmed vineyards here since 1821, and today, all of the farming is done organically. Winemaking at Saint Damien uses minimal intervention with the goal of producing wines that speak of place, grape, and tradition.

All I can say is keep up the good work, as it is really hard to find anything negative to say about this wine. Plump, ripe, heady, and packed with notes of ripe dark cherry, raspberry, white pepper, and Provencal herbs, this full bodied, plush, and pleasure-bent red should offer joyful drinking over the next 5-7 years. Jeb Dunnuck nailed it on the head when he described it as "ripe, seamless, and undeniably delicious."

Not to be outdone, the 2020 Cotes du Rhone 'La Bouveau' is a single vineyard offering that is composed of 80% Syrah, 15% Cinsault, and 5% Viognier. That high proportion of Syrah and the addition of Viognier makes this a much more savory, beefy, and aromatic red. I highly recommend decanting this for an hour or so, as it really develops into something special.

Saint Damien Cotes du Rhone La Bouveau

2. 2020 Saint Damien Cotes du Rhone 'La Bouveau'

Meaty, savory, 'Baby Cote Rotie' at less than 25 bucks! - 94 points - JS

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From vineyards just south of Gigondas, this is a wine that is full of Rhone Valley personality and character. Right when I opened it, I could see and smell that there was some seriously intense juice inside the bottle. I was right! This stuff is dark, and the aromas are full-throttle. Big notes of ripe blackberry, blueberry, black currant, violet, black olive, and cracked black pepper lead into a dense and structured palate. 

Like I said before, this one needs some aeration before it struts its stuff, but after about 60 minutes in the decanter, the palate became more supple and the flavors more clearly defined. Tasted blind, I honestly would have guessed that it was a Northern Rhone Syrah from a high caliber producer. It's really good, it's a terrific value, and it is one you can drink now or over the next 6-8 years. If you have never experienced Rhone Valley Syrah, this would be a good place to start.

There you go, two wonderful Cotes du Rhones from a legendary producer that drink well above their "price class." Supply is limited, and we have a big following for Saint Damien's wines. I expect these to be sold out quickly.

Josh Spurling
Owner, Operator, Wine Monger
Table Wine Asheville