Saint Cosme Wines


I confess I was a geeky child who read an atlas for fun.  This was of course before the internet and Google Maps entered our lives, so a map meant paper and a detailed map meant lots of paper. I remember unfolding maps on the living room floor and reading the names of all the tiny towns around the state I had never heard of. It was a virtual road trip and the atlas on our family's bookshelf had all kinds of useful trivia like population numbers from every nation on the planet. I was captivated.

Not much has changed, actually. I have a wine atlas that is so detailed it has vineyard names and elevations, even some soil types. You can travel Burgundy from one end to the other identifying the premier and grand cru vineyards along the way. I suppose this is why I love wine so much, Old World wine in particular. Every bottle is like taking a trip. Every region is storied and full of rich history. Place. Terroir. Legacy. This is what makes wine special.

Chateau Saint Cosme epitomizes this tradition.  The oldest estate in Gigondas, it has been in the same family since 1490, and the family has been the vignerons for 14 generations. The original Gallo-Roman fermentation vats are perfectly preserved. Saint Cosme is not merely a museum, though, but a living, breathing testament to the terroir of Gigondas. They farm organically and make wines that reflect a real sense of place. They have three distinct terroirs throughout 15 hectares of old vines (average 60 years old). The single-vineyard wines rival any Chateaneuf-du-Pape (Parker gave the 2010 Hominis Fides 100 points for what it's worth), but the more attainable simple Gigondas ain't too shabby (Parker gave the 2010 93 points for what it's worth).

Since 1997 they have been making negociant wine as well including a fabulous Cote Rotie. They have estate Cotes-du-Rhone, but their negociant CDR is 100% Syrah (very unusual) and is crafted with all the care and respect for terroir as their estate wine. Personally, I think that 100% Syrah CDR is a real treat, especially at $15.

I say all of this because I want to sell you Chateau Saint Cosme wine. But even if I don't I can't help but be thrilled when I look into this wooden chest filled with their wine. There's some really special juice in there, and some of it is crazy expensive. But it's a place in a bottle, and they didn't cut any corners on the affordable stuff either. That 100% Syrah Cotes-du-Rhone is from a spot along the Rhone river covered in galets roulés (rolling stones) very similar to some of the best Chateaneuf-du-Pape locations. Louis Barruol, the current winemaker who took over from his father in 1992, talks about this wine as his baby, his little syrah he says, even though he can't claim those vines as his own.

When you drink this wine you are the beneficiary of the Romans who first planted vines here, and especially the monasteries who determined what grew best where and which slopes and valleys bared the best fruit. Drinking through this portfolio is like a virtual road trip.

Saint Cosme Little James Basket Press: $13
Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone 2012: $15
Chateau Saint Cosme Gigondas 2011: $41
Chateau Saint Cosme Gigondas "Valbelle" 2011: $68
Chateau Saint Cosme Gigondas "Le Claux" 2011: $88
Saint Cosme Cote Rotie: $62



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