Vignerons de Caractere is one of the top co-operatives in the Southern Rhone.  They have been making a rather strong push into the US markets of late, especially in the Mid-Atlantic region. While being a co-op often means lower quality wines, that is not the case here. It does mean, however, that the wines are very well priced, including this Gigondas bottling.

The 2010 “Cuvee Prestige” shows a great deal of panache. Full bodied, it marries a dense and lush structure with a classic Gigondas minerality and “sweetness of fruit” as many of the local winemakers say. Dark fruit and mincemeat along with espresso rule the palate, while blueberry and dried leaves dominate the aromas. The finish is lean and clean with brighter flavors of cranberry and quince coming forward along with a touch of tobacco.

Gigondas is one of the great crus of the Southern Rhone, on par or surpassing Chateauneuf du Pape in sheer quality. This bottle is an excellent introduction to the region.