Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Château du Trignon, Gigondas

As readers of the Our house in Provence blog know, our home is in Sablet, a small village in the Côtes du Rhône wine region. The first time I ever heard Sablet mentioned was when my partner Cluney told me he had bought a case of Château du Trignon Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet for the wine list we were putting together for our Bistro Des Copains.

A little more than six months later, we decided to close the Bistro for a couple of weeks; it was January and a slow time for restaurants in West Sonoma County. We were going to France with our chef, a server and assorted friends so we could experience the food, wine, people and culture of the South of France.

As we set our itinerary, we scheduled appointments to visit wineries who make some of the wonderful wines on the Bistro's wine list. In the Côtes du Rhône region, this included wineries in Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Although we were very close to Sablet for several days, we never saw the village that is now home on that trip.

When you drive into a village in the South of France, you see small rectangle signs, generally red, at street intersections pointing the direction to local restaurants, hotels and wineries. When we finally drove into Sablet for the first time, I saw a sign for Château du Trignon, unusually yellow instead of red, and knew I had to go déguster - taste their wine.

From the signs and location, you would assume that Château du Trignon is in Sablet. But that is not the case; the winery is actually located within the commune of Gigondas. When you cross the bridge to the winery, you have left the Sablet Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) and you are in Gigondas.

The story of Château du Trignon began in 1896 when it was bought by the Roux family. Before then, it had been a traditional Provençal farm of the time. Over the years, the Roux family added vineyards in Gigondas AOC, Rasteau AOC, Sablet AOC and Côtes du Rhône.

In 2007, Château du Trignon was acquired by the Quiot family of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, themselves winemakers since 1748. Simultaneously with the purchase of Château du Trignon, the Quiot family added 10 hectares (24.71 acres) of vineyards in Vacqueyras and 2 hectares (4.94 acres) of vineyards in Beaumes de Venise to Château du Trignon.

Despite having been on my list of things I wanted to do since the first time we drove into Sablet, we never seemed to find the time to visit Château du Trignon till one afternoon a few weeks ago.

After driving up the narrow lane and crossing the bridge from Sablet to Gigondas into Château du Trignon, I arrived in a pretty courtyard reminiscent of a family farm.

There is a pond with ducks paddling across the water.

This looked like a small chapel to me.

After walking around the back to look for the door (I am nosy), I discovered it was not a chapel but rather a rabbit hutch with a yard for the rabbits.

A few of the rabbits who live at Château du Trignon. I am pretty sure these rabbits are not pets.

The pretty cave at Château du Trignon shaded by the trees that surround the courtyard. I entered the tasting room and was given a list of wines that were available for tasting that day.

Either by design or because they want to sell out of older vintages before they start selling the newer releases, the wines available to taste at Château du Trignon were a little older and thus more developed than many wines we taste at other wineries.

I tasted the 2005 Château du Trignon Côtes du Rhône Villages Rasteau, the 2005 Château du Trignon Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet, the 2006 Château du Trignon Vacqueyras, and the 2006 Château du Trignon Gigondas.

One thing I noticed and was confirmed to me was that with the purchase of Château du Trignon by the Quiot family, the wines are now being fined and filtered before being bottled, a process used by many wineries to remove sediments and clarify the wine. I generally prefer to drink wines that are not treated this way.

The pretty Gigondas vineyards of Château du Trignon with the Dentelles de Montmirail in the background.

I plan to return to Château du Trignon to taste their wines from the legendary 2007 vintage when we return to Sablet in a few weeks.

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