This wine is a blend of 80 percent Marsanne (structure and length) and 20 percent Roussanne (roundness and aromatics) from vines that average 40 years in age. Long before it was sold as Saint Joseph, the wine from this renowned parcel was sold as Vin des Oliviers. The wine is produced by brothers Pierre and Jean Gonon, who work their 9 hectares of vines situated around Mauves, Tournon and St Jean de Muzols, birthplace of the appellation St Joseph.
The soils are fertilized only with their own composts and plowed for aeration. Only natural treatments are used in the vineyard and yields are kept very low by short pruning and green harvesting in July. Grapes are harvested only by hand and fermentation takes place only in the presence of indigenous yeasts. The brothers don’t follow the current trend toward single vineyard bottlings at the expense of the “entry level” cuvées, instead the Gonon brothers uphold the best virtues of the appellation system and draw from all of their historic parcels, each lending a distinct character, to craft only a single white and a single red Saint Joseph cuvée.
Production of the Pierre Gonon Blanc is about 900 cases. It is golden straw in color. Apple, apricot, lemon peel and cut hay on the nose. Stone fruits, pomelo grapefruit, almond and a touch of tangerine and fennel. Stoney minerality, creamy, rich and a bit fat — unctuous with beautiful glycerin-viscosity. Well-balanced with soft but lingering acidity and a prolonged finish. The richness and lowish acidity help make this age gracefully and have been put in the same class as the rich styled White Burgundies from the Côtes de Beaune. At $30 a bottle, this wine is not inexpensive especially given the current economic situation. But it is a lot wine for the money and a really lovely bottle of wine. The last white wine I enjoyed this much was the Pierre Gaillard Condrieu.
I purchased this wine from Chambers Street Wines. They focus on organic, natural and biodynamic wines. I have been a long time fan and ordered from them on a fairly regular basis over the last few years. Since I was in New York, I figured it was worth a visit to their store. Chambers Street may have the largest inventory of Louis/Dressner Selections in the United States, so that alone is worth the trip. They also have some hard to find small producers — and they obviously take a lot of care in selecting which wines they carry. They carry a hard to find producer from the Rhône — Domaine Richaud. Always a good supply of wines from Catherine & Pierre Breton, Pierre Gonon, Sylvie Esmonin…and the list goes on.
I really enjoyed visiting the store and chatting with John, one of their wine merchants. He spent a good 30-40 minutes with me. He was friendly, helpful, enthusiastic and knowledgeable — and I greatly appreciated the attention. A great store and a great wine, true highlights from my week.