Château de Saint Cosme is the leading estate of Gigondas and produces the appellation’s benchmark wines. Wine has been produced on the site of Saint Cosme since Roman times, evident by the ancient Gallo-Roman vats carved into the limestone below the château. The property has been in the hands of Louis Barruol’s family since 1490. Henri and Claude Barruol took over in 1957 and gradually moved Saint Cosme away from the bulk wine business. Henri was one of the first in the region to work organically beginning in the 1970s. Louis Barruol took over from his father in 1992, making a dramatic shift to quality, adding a négociant arm to the business in 1997, and converting to biodynamics in 2010.
Location of Vineyard
The estate is in the heart of Gigondas where 15 hectares of vineyard grow in the shade of the Dentelles de Montmirail. The limestone that distinguishes Gigondas from other southern Rhône appellations is visible on the jagged cliffs of the Dentelles. In addition to Gigondas and the old-vine selection Gigondas Valbelle, three single-vineyard Gigondas are produced: Hominis Fides, Le Claux, and Le Poste. Louis Barruol owns an additional 10 hectares of vineyard in Violès outside of Gigondas to produce Les Deux Albions Blanc IGP. Côtes-du-Rhône Les Deux Albions Rouge and Le Poste Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc round out the estate offerings and are labeled as “Château de Saint Cosme.” Little James’ Basket Press, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and northern Rhône appellations are from contracted growers and are labeled “Saint Cosme.”
Louis Barruol’s style combines the region’s typical ripeness with freshness, an elusive quality in the warm climate of the southern Rhône. One of the keys to freshness is the use of stems for their red wines. The stems absorb alcohol during fermentation and help retain acidity and tannin. Red wines are made by spontaneous fermentation. Louis prefers cement tanks or mostly used 228-liter Burgundian pièce for élevage with just a few traditional demi-muid for his whites. The négociant wines are transported to Gigondas in casks to avoid racking and unnecessary exposure to oxygen. Reds are bottled unfined and unfiltered. “I want to make wines which express their terroir with purity and personality. I want balanced wines with a great ability to age,” says Louis Barruol.