Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas


Founded by Eugéne Raspail, born in Perignan in 1812, this domaine represented the largest vineyard in Gigondas in the 18th century. After the death of E. Raspail the vineyard was split into four, and presently includes some 18 ha round the cellars in the Colombiers quartier of Gigondas. The buildings also host 2-3 gîtes, where we have stayed. The present owners, Dominique and Christine Ay, have a no-nonsens attitude to wine-making. Dominique Ay, an ex-helicopter pilot and oenologist from the University of Montpellier, took over from his father in 1982. Nothing fancy or experimental here! Dominique Ay aims at making healthy grapes and letting nature do as much as possible.

Vines are made up of 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 7.5% Cinsault, 6.5% Mouvédre and 6% Clairette. Harvest lasts some three weeks, because perfect maturity is a priority. The Raspail Ay crop is entirely destalked, and cuvaison takes 12-18 days after which it is racked into old oak barrels ranging in capacity and subsequently a final 3-6 months in smaller demi-muids before bottling, with a total élevage of some two years. No fining or filtration. The wines of Raspail Ay are always of great depth and colour with a combination of goût de terroir, fruitiness and intriguing spiciness. They are suitable for drinking between six and 10 years of age.

So far, we have not come across any Gigondas better than that of Raspail Ay.