The winery of this ancient estate of 38 hectares is just south of Sablet in the commune of Gigondas. From eight hectares of red vines in Sablet, it makes a Cotes du Rhone village and from 2 ha of white varieties it makes 10,000 bottles of Sablet blanc. Jean-Pierre Meffre agrees that Sablet is particularly favoured for white wine production, recalling the comment of Robert Parker, the global wine guru, that Sablet is the “Chablis of the South”.
The estate was bought eighty years before the French Revolution by a Lieutenant called Pierre Goubert. At that time it contained nothing in Sablet. Several generations later, the estate owned a quarter of the vines in Gigondas. However, at one stage there were so many children that the estate became dispersed. One of the heirs, Maria Madeleine Goubert, decided to regroup as much of the land as she could: she did this first by marrying her first cousin and then by moving to Algeria with the specific idea of making money quickly so she could buy her brother’s holdings, which she did when she returned a decade later. However, she only had a daughter, who married a member of the Meffre family. The estate has remained in that family since. Indeed, the names Goubert, Meffre and Roux turn up all the time in this valley. The Sablet vines came to the family three generations ago with a marriage to the Autran family, another local institution. Just below a large lump of safre, it is essentially sandy, but has plenty of clay as well with few stones.
Jean-Pierre has been in charge since 1980. He has bought another eight hectares over that time. He sells his Sablet red without the village appellation since he has always had a good market for it as a Cotes du Rhone. As well as 70% grenache and 20% syrah, it contains 10% carignan, an often-derided “secondary” variety, which is marvellous when the vines are old. It sees no oak and gets lots of stirring up with delestage and even “cliquage” in which oxygen is blown through the juices. He picks the grenache a bit later than average, but likes the syrah fresh.
The white, called L’Oratory, is made without any wood. The richness comes from the viognier and Grenache blanc in the mix, which also contains clairette for complexity, bourboulenc for freshness and roussanne for its aromas.
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