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Domaine Pierre Gaillard

Red, White and Delicious: Welcoming New Releases from the Northern Rhône
Domaine Pierre Gaillard
Rhône Valley 2021 and ’22 was a tale of two vintages. The former was a challenging season marked by frost, hail and cooler and wetter conditions. You had to be on top of your vineyard at short notice in 2021. Those willing to drop a lot of fruit and beaver away among the vines have been rewarded with delightfully fresh and classically styled Northern Rhône Syrah. Pierre Gaillard uses the French word friand to describe his reds from this year, which we can translate as built to please. From the sparky fruit and racy crunchiness of the Saint-Joseph to the smoky succulence of the Côte-Rôties, all the wines showcase the pretty Syrah fruit and lively, refined structures of the 2021 vintage chez Gaillard.

As always, the whites on offer are a vintage ahead, so 2022 this year. The offspring of the record-breaking summer season heat, Gaillard’s whites have retained remarkable freshness and mineral length. Gaillard points out that the vine is a brilliant plant adapting to climate challenges. In 2021, his vines shut down during the hottest part of the summer, preventing sugar development and retaining acidity. Reflecting the diligence of this storied grower and his methodically tended granitic vineyards, the resulting wines are fleshy, buoyant and very delicious.

The Wines

Domaine Pierre Gaillard Saint-Joseph Blanc 2022

Domaine Pierre Gaillard Saint-Joseph Blanc 2022

Even in the Rhône, single-varietal Roussanne is a rare bird. Jean-Baptiste Souillard, a young producer with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the region, recently estimated there are only 10 or so producers who do not blend their Roussanne with Marsanne. Made entirely from Roussanne (and inspired by a tasting of Beaucastel’s Vieilles Vignes Châteauneuf early on in Gaillard’s career), this is one of those wines that make you question that logic.

The grapes were drawn from several low-yielding sites situated in the far north of the appellation: the relatively cool granite plateau of Malleval at Les Dries; on the slopes of Malleval at Chartres; and finally, from Les Vessettes in Chavanay. The wine spent eight months in used Allier and Nevers barrels sourced from growers in Chassagne and Pouilly-Fuissé.

It’s a lovely release pitched between stone-fruited fleshy richness and bright, savoury structure. It’s an intense, creamy-textured wine where herbs and blossom have the upper hand over spicy, yellow plum and nutty lees notes. And there’s a delicious umami thing going on, too. Complex and seductive, this is already drinking deliciously.

“Yellow robe; peach, apricot juice, quince airs show on the friendly nose, a dab of mineral. The palate has a flattering debut, is soft and peachy, hints of white strawberry in a tender, quiet close. It has an up in the air manner.”
John Livingstone-Learmonth, Drink Rhône
Domaine Pierre Gaillard Saint-Joseph Blanc 2022
Domaine Pierre Gaillard Condrieu 2022

Domaine Pierre Gaillard Condrieu 2022

Gaillard’s Condrieu is drawn from four parcels grown on the terraced slopes of Côte Bellay, Les Patasses (Malleval), Boissey (Chavanay) and La Caille (Condrieu). Each of these sites has soils of fine, decomposing granite. In 2022, the vines here yielded 30 hl/ha of vibrant Viognier fruit, and the wine spent seven months in oak, of which 10% was new. One of our favourite aspects of Gaillard’s whites is their ability to combine intense aromatics and ripe, hedonistic textures with bright mineral refreshment, and this is a textbook example of that paradox. It’s a classically alluring, richly textured Condrieu with scents and flavours of honeysuckle and juicy, macerated peach and spice. It combines the year’s flesh and generosity with juicy buoyancy, great length and a very long, stony finish. 

Domaine Pierre Gaillard Condrieu 2022
Domaine Pierre Gaillard Condrieu Blanc L'Octroi 2022

Domaine Pierre Gaillard Condrieu Blanc L'Octroi 2022

Pierre Gaillard's top Condrieu comes from a single hectare of vines on a steep, sandy, granitic slope of Malleval (just south of Condrieu). In 2022, the vines here yielded just 30 hl/ha of pungent, tenderloin Viognier fruit, and the wine spent eight months in Allier and Nevers oak, of which just 5% was new. It is early days, but it already hints at the tell-tale characteristics of a top Gaillard Viognier: small white flowers, fragrant peach blossom, and a refreshing, controlled palate. It finishes with ample structure and an undercurrent of smoky, granite-laced minerality. Expect retrained power and finesse in equal measure.

“Yellow colour; the nose is buttery, has depth, comes with a hint of cooked lemon, aniseed that serve to bring freshness. The palate is agreeably fluid, with style in its richness, holds well, has a neat close. It’s cosy, and also elegant.”
John Livingstone-Learmonth, Drink Rhône
Domaine Pierre Gaillard Condrieu Blanc L'Octroi 2022
Domaine Pierre Gaillard Saint-Joseph Rouge 2021

Domaine Pierre Gaillard Saint-Joseph Rouge 2021

Gaillard’s Saint-Joseph is drawn from several parcels in the high country of Malleval, Chavanay and Limony in the far north of the appellation. The vines lie closer to Vienne and Condrieu than to Tournon-sur-Rhône in the south. Gaillard’s steep, cool soils have plenty of granite, which contributes to the mineral cut of this perfumed and vibrant Syrah. At the same time, varying altitudes and aspects offer Gaillard various blending options and are key to the impressive consistency of this wine.

As usual, each parcel was destemmed and vinified separately. Aging was mostly in used Allier and Nevers barrels for 18 months, and the wine was bottled unfiltered. This is an immediately engaging, sleek, detailed and fragrant St-Jo with an array of red and blue fruits, exotic spices, and a lick of 2021’s roasted herb flavour. While it’s the kind of crunchy-textured throwback vintage that screams ‘Don’t wait’, it has everything in place to suggest it will get better and better over the next five-plus years. But then again, why wait?!

Domaine Pierre Gaillard Saint-Joseph Rouge 2021
Domaine Pierre Gaillard Saint-Joseph Clos de Cuminaille 2021

Domaine Pierre Gaillard Saint-Joseph Clos de Cuminaille 2021

The Clos de Cuminaille is one of the most privileged sites of Saint-Joseph. It’s an east-facing, walled vineyard on Chavanay’s pure granite soils and produces one of the most distinctive wines of the appellation each year. When Gaillard bought this three-hectare site, he passed on the chance to buy a slice of the now-renowned La Turque vineyard in Côte-Rôtie, a site he helped plant. He simply felt that Clos de Cuminaille was better. The vines here are now more than 30 years old, and the winemaking is no different from the Saint-Joseph—save for a touch more new oak (a well-integrated 25% this year).

As always, this is a much more textural and polished experience compared to the regular Saint-Joseph cuvée. It’s pulpy and layered with juicy plum and pastille fruit, scored by hints of grilled herbs and sappy, northern Rhône spice. It carries the refreshing signature of the vintage with style and substance. Not the power of 2020, for example, but that’s all the better for drinking young.


“The 2021 Saint Joseph Clos De Cuminaille has a deep purple hue as well as terrific aromatics of both red and blue fruits, peppery herbs, violets, and new saddle leather. With good density, medium body, fine tannins, and outstanding length, it has lots to love and is well worth seeking out.”
91-93 points, Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com
Domaine Pierre Gaillard Saint-Joseph Clos de Cuminaille 2021
Domaine Pierre Gaillard Côte-Rôtie 2021

Domaine Pierre Gaillard Côte-Rôtie 2021

Gaillard’s Côte-Rôtie is a co-fermented blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Viognier from the schist soils of Fongeant and Viallière (Ampuis) and a parcel of vines on gneiss at Semons in the south of the appellation. All the fruit was harvested by hand with a strict selection, ensuring only the finest bunches and berries made it into the final blend. The fruit was 100% destemmed and vinification involved a five-day pre-fermentation soak and then regular punch-downs. The wine spent 18 months in barrique (35% new) and was bottled without filtration. Rhône scholar John Livingstone-Learmonth describes the wine well. The palate is vibrant and fresh, with lots of juicy, textured dark fruits, smoky black olive and some anise fruit, all encased within an elegant, fine tannin structure. Very Côte Blonde this year. We would simply add that the wines need at least six months in the bottle for all the elements to fuse.   

“Dark red robe. The bouquet has a comfortable depth, with the promise of opening and variety; there is a mass of black berry fruits for now. The palate has a suave tone, a cosy middle, carries gourmand appeal, the fruit on mixed red and black berries, a spur of freshness in the ferrous tannins. It’s wild in a good way on the second half, has character, the length nicely sustained. From late-2024.”
John Livingstone-Learmonth, Drink Rhône
Domaine Pierre Gaillard Côte-Rôtie 2021
Domaine Pierre Gaillard Côte-Rôtie Rose Pourpre 2021

Domaine Pierre Gaillard Côte-Rôtie Rose Pourpre 2021

The charismatic Rose Pourpre (purple rose) comes from a particularly steep, one-hectare parcel of 40-year-old vines rooted in the schist soils of Côte Rozier. It’s a warm, amphitheatre-shaped site just under the famous La Landonne, at the heart of the Côte Brune. There are numerous stone walls, well known for their ability to retain heat. This magnifies the site’s sunny microclimate and is one of the keys to understanding the depth and structure of the wines that come from this terroir. Harvesting is, of course, by hand, and the fruit is entirely destemmed before crushing. This cuvee ages for 18 months in Allier and Nevers barrels. These barrels are mostly new, yet this powerhouse wine has soaked it up beautifully. Though never a brawny wine, Rose Poupre is traditionally Gaillard’s most palate-staining, brooding Côte-Rôtie.

“Lovely Brune-style aromatics here: dark, deep and resonant. Fairly full-bodied and decidedly round, with mouthcoating clay tannins. The oak is well balanced here, adding weight and spice to the fruit. It’s generous for a 2021, with good acidity. From a south-facing parcel of Côte Rozier, all destemmed, and malolactic takes place in new barriques, where it spends 18 months.”
95 points, Matt Walls, Decanter
“Dark red; the bouquet shows promise, has a cordite, mineral tone and bright blue fruit, will be stylish. The palate serves a suave stream of small black fruits with refined tannins to accompany it, the fruit persisting gracefully. It’s an aromatic, gently tuned Rôtie, a wine of finesse, precision, purity, bears the best virtues of the vintage. The iron clad finish gives a good burst of the vineyard on the close. From 2025.”
John Livingstone-Learmonth, Drink Rhône
Domaine Pierre Gaillard Côte-Rôtie Rose Pourpre 2021

“Pierre Gaillard makes exciting, delicious wines in all three appellations. His St Joseph, in both white and red, is better than more prestigious ACs from less devoted, less artistic producers.” Jacqueline Friedrich, The Wines of France

“Located above the picturesque medieval village of Malleval, the drive up to his winery and tasting room offers spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. The wines are pretty darn good too, especially the top-end stuff from Saint Joseph and Côte Rôtie... If the current trend of hot, sunny vintages continues, these will increasingly be wines to seek out.” Joe Czerwinski, The Wine Advocate

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