Tasting two versions of classic blends was Friday night’s ‘challenge’. The wines were variations on the GSM blend, both French and fourteen years apart in their vintages. The first tasted was Domaine de St. Gayan, a Gigondas from 1990 with an ABV of 14%. The second wine was a Faugeres, La Maison Jaune (13.5%) from the 2004 vintage. This bottle had been opened 24 hours previously. The blend for the Gigondas was 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 4% Mourvedre and 1% Cinsault. The Faugeres’ cocktail was a more straightforward 70 – 20 – 10, GSM mix.
Both wines were deep red, almost black in colour with quite pronounced windows. Both had similar brown edgings. Their differences started with their respective bouquets. The Gigondas had quite a vegetal nose with some attractive sweet quality and slight menthol notes which faded after 45 mins. The Faugeres’ nose was not very forward, maybe with a slight menthol quality.
The predominant taste of the Faugeres was that of earthy spice; it was a big, robust wine that still had plenty of power but possibly fell short in finesse. Certainly, as Richard said, it was a ‘day two wine’. The Gigondas had a rich, long aftertaste and still possessed plenty of power and structural tannins – despite being 24 years old. There was also a beguiling slight sweet-fruit edge to it – something the Faugeres’, in its earthiness, lacked. The Gigondas had the higher acidity as well as greater refinement.
There is something in this menthol – or maybe it’s better termed as aromatic – nose. We keep getting it with pure Syrah or blended Syrah wines but it fades fairly quickly, which suggests delicacy. It will be interesting to see if this quality is repeated in the ‘bigger’ Syrahs of Australia.
[Richard: the Gigondas is another one of those wines Yapp Bros found behind a filing cabinet in a dark corner of their cellar. £30 which I think is fair enough, given the age and quality. The Faugeres was £14 from the Wine Society – as Geoff says, not as good but still good value. I’ve a second bottle so keep a look out for a follow-up tasting in about 2020.]