March Imported Wine: 2013 Château Gigognan 'Vigne du Prieure' Cotes du Rhone, Rhone, FRANCE

At the heart of the Valley of the Rhone, 10 minutes from Châteauneuf du Pape, Château Gigognan is the heir of a deeply rooted history that dates back to the time of roman colonization.

A spiritual and temporal lordship: The estate quickly becomes a fiefdom which formed a principality with Châteauneuf du Pape and Bédarrides, one governed by the archbishops of Avignon.

During the 17th and 18th century, the administration of Gigognan was entrusted to Lords from Provence by the archbishops of Avignon. Its prosperity gave it the title of a village with the rank of a municipality.

Since 1996, the castle knows a true rebirth thanks to Jacques Callet. Having been completely renovated, it was given back the charm of the great manors of Provence.

In 2012, a new team of expert professionals is brought together. The vineyard knows an unprecedented renewal and is the object of investments to reinforce the excellence of the estate’s wines.

Varietals: 60% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah and 10% Carignan

Alcohol: 12.5% by volume

The Terroir: Southern exposure on an ancient terrace of sand and limestone.

Vinification: Temperature controlled fermentation by cepage; maceration for 8-10 days depending on the grape; malolactic fermentation also occurs.

Tasting Notes: Smoke and spice on the nose with hints of red cherry fruit. On the palate, concentrated, jammy red fruits. There is a great balance with a touch of tobacco and plenty of white pepper spice on the finish.

Food Pairings: Pair with grilled lamb, beef or portabella, tuna, Mediterranean pizza and grilled sausages. Enjoy!

March Imported Wine: 2010 Domaine de Coste Chaude Côtes du Rhône Villages L'Argentiere, Rhone, FRANCE

Out of the domaine’s 35 hectares (86 acres) lying at 350m altitude (over 1000 feet), just over 21 hectares are planted with vines whose average age is at least 40 years. Grenache is the main variety followed by Syrah with 6 hectares; and you’ll also find one plot of old Carignan.

In particular, it’s the rich and varied terroir that makes Coste Chaude special. This unique location stems from the region’s tormented geological history. In fact, 6 million years ago when the Mediterranean was completely dried up, powerful rivers tore off rocks from the Alps that now make up the conglomerated mass of the Visan plateau.

The Philosophy of Domaine de Coste Chaude: “Our farming methods reflect our aspirations to make quality wines. So getting healthy grapes is fundamental to the domaine’s philosophy.

Consequently, we use sustainable growing practices at Coste Chaude: applying fertilizers as and when the soil needs it, disease-control measures using environmentally friendly sprays or even natural grass cover to prevent erosion. This way of working is also a transitional phase towards grape growing taking a more biodynamic approach.

We deliberately do short-pruning – ‘cordon royat’ (double-cordon spur) – to keep production at between 30 and 40 hl/ha depending on each plot and the wine we want to make.

The vines are trained on several wires to allow them to grow a large leaf canopy and ensure perfect photosynthesis. We check all the different plots before picking to monitor grape ripening, which are systematically sorted on a table before going into the cellar.”-domaine-coste-chaude.com

Varietals: 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache

Alcohol: 14.5% by volume

Tasting Notes: Dominated by Syrah, this wine is full-bodied and soft, with an appealing nose of raspberries and blackcurrant. Slightly perfumed with sweet cinnamon and ginger bread. Velvety on the palate with fresh and well-integrated tannins, and a surprising array of pepper and cedar wood flavors on the finish.

Food Pairings: This wine asks for fine cooking. Think of sweetbreads and morel mushrooms, venison, and lamb!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich and concentrated, and loaded with layers of complexity. Flavors of white garlic, cedar, and pork. 2010 is a tremendous vintage, and I’m so excited we were able to put a great Rhone like this in the club for you. Drink this with pot roast, and sit by the fire. Enjoy!”-JL