A wine habit comes with a ton of unique problems (glassware issues, wine rack space concerns, red wine teeth, you name it). But my personal problem is that the more wine I drink, the more I increase my price point, and the worse those cheaper wines taste. When I started drinking wine, I was happy in the $7 a bottle range. A year later, I was at $9. Currently? $10-12 is okay for a rosé, but a Pinot should be over $19, a Cotes Du Rhone should be $14+, and I've discovered a whole new realm of expensive varietals that I want want want. I have to put self (and Ben) imposed limits on what wine I drink on a regular basis. It's broken down into the special occasion and every day wine buckets.
When I started to get into French wine, I quickly found the varietal Cotes du Rhone (more on that later) which was rustic, inexpensive and delicious. After buying just about every single Cotes du Rhone in the store and getting tired of drinking the same ones over and over (that's a lie, I love drinking good wine over and over again!), I heard about Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is an expensive, highly revered (by Robert Parker, at least) varietal. Bottles usually run in the $100 range, but you can find some lesser-Châteauneuf-du-Papes in the $40-$60 range at select stores.
Naturally, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is far too expensive for me to be drinking on a Wednesday. Or any day, really. I tried a bottle, tried another (of the lesser, cheaper price point) and then called it quits in favor of my bank account. Enter the wine I'm actually supposed to be talking about: Gigondas. Gigondas is the poor man's Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the rich man's Cotes du Rhone. It's considered the "little brother" of C-d-P and is a moderately prestigious wine. Gigondas is an AOC in Vaucluse, France and was not always a wine-producing region of its own. Gigondas was part of the Cotes du Rhone appellation prior to the seventies and their wines were used to thin out the Burgundies.
The region primarily produces reds with a tiny section dedicated to rosé, but no whites are produced. As most of these French wine varietals are, Gigondas is a mix of primarily Grenache, a small amount of Syrah or Mourvedre, and some other Rhone varietals. It keeps well for a few years, but was never meant for long-term aging in a cellar. Expect high alcohol percentages and strong wines from this region. They often have a profile of dark fruits like plums, but lack the spices in a more expensive C-d-P.
I've been able to find some great Gigondas to try for about $20-$25 (like the one above), so they make it onto my semi-special occasion list! To find a great bottle, I recommend exploring your wine shop and asking the steward! They'll often come up with the perfect price point and flavor profile for your tastes.
Want more? Check out my French rosé wine series post.