Santa Duc Offer 2018

It’s no exaggeration to say that well-travelled Benjamin Gras is crafting some of the most elegant and soulful wines in the Southern Rhône. JOE CZERWINSKI, The Wine Advocate

Under Benjamin Gras’ direction, the wines at this venerable domaine have never been better. Santa Duc started off at a high point thanks to the hard work of Benjamin’s father, Yves. The wines now are more graceful and detailed than in the past, but they are definitely not lightweights. Based in Gigondas, the specialty, the estate also works in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and owns a mere 1.3 hectares in Vacqueyras. The wine, which is raised in small concrete tanks and a few oak barrels of varying size, is, like its siblings, vibrant and complex, delivering a suave blend of richness and delicacy. There isn’t much of it, sadly! JOSH RAYNOLDS, Vinous 2020

The young yet obviously talented Benjamin Gras continues to make an elegant, beautifully balanced style of wine from this benchmark estate in Gigondas, which now also produces a handful of terrific Châteauneuf du Pape. He’s made the most of the 2018 vintage, and these are impressive wines. JEB DUNNUCK

This is one of those ‘finger on the buzzer’ type offers as Santa Duc has transcended into cult status over the last few vintages and the appetite for these wines is voracious. I know many of you will scroll straight to the bottom, ready to order, but for those who aren’t yet on the Santa Duc ‘train’ as it were, I have put together a little background on the estate and this year’s wines below.

For those of you who received our offer on these wines last year, you will know that Gigondas’ Santa Duc has undergone somewhat of a transformation stylistically in recent years. Benjamin Gras’ father Yves had built an impressive reputation for the estate, producing wines of bombast, breadth and power. These wines had their fans, but it appears that perhaps Ben was not entirely convinced.

Since he has taken the wheel at Santa Duc, there has been a significant refinement in the wines. Less is more as they say, and at Santa Duc Ben has dialed back the more heavy handed approach of his father in favour of one that leans more towards freshness and finesse. This in turn has delivered a suite of beautifully detailed and aromatic wines with an electric energy to them. They are texturally interesting too, far from the full blooded wines that leant heavily on alcohol and oak for mouthfeel. Instead, Ben uses a range of vessels from clay amphora, to concrete, to varying sizes of neutral oak, as well a portion of whole bunch, to really layer the wines together texturally while always keeping an eye on freshness and aromatics.

That’s not to say the wines lack the power or density of their previous incarnations, – they still have that in spades – but today it’s honed and delivered in a package that’s beautifully balanced with fragrant, sumptuous fruit knitted together in a sinewy structure. The future of the Southern Rhone is in great hands with winemakers like Ben Cras at the helm and Santa Duc is a producer leading the charge into a new era.

To purchase these wines please email Alex Dobson at [email protected] 

 

2018 Santa Duc Gigondas Aux Lieux-Dits SHELF PRICE $68 YOUR PRICE $58
Special Six Pack Price $330 ($55 each)

Currently more floral and expressive on the nose than the 2017, although less concentrated, the 2018 Gigondas Aux Lieux-Dits boasts hints of peppery spice, garrigue, a hint of roses and blueberry and raspberry fruit. It’s medium to full-bodied, silky and taut, striking a good balance between ripeness and acidity, particularly noticeable on the long, mouthwatering finish.  JOE CZERWINSKI, The Wine Advocate

Moving to the two Gigondas, the 2018 Gigondas Aux Lieux-Dits offers a more medium-bodied, finesse-driven style as well as beautiful aromas of ripe strawberries, blackberries, spring flowers, and peppery garrigue. It has an almost Burgundian style yet is pure southern Rhône in its aromas and flavors. It is ideal for enjoying over the coming decade. JEB DUNNUCK

 

2018 Santa Duc Gigondas Clos Derriere Vieille SHELF PRICE $105 YOUR PRICE $90
Special Six Pack Price $504 ($84 each)

A blend of 80% Grenache and 10% each Mourvèdre and Syrah, all grown in a limestone-rich clos, the 2018 Gigondas Clos Derriere Vieille is floral and resinously herbal, with stemmy notes accenting mixed berries. Medium to full-bodied, it’s silky and ripe yet vibrant, with ample complexity allied to admirable acid-tannin balance. It should drink well for up to a decade. JOE CZERWINSKI, The Wine Advocate

The 2018 Gigondas Clos Derriere Vieille comes from older vines behind the village, and it shows a more complex, stemmy, old-school style while still possessing purity and elegance that’s the hallmark of this estate today. Lovely notes of wild strawberries, blueberries, and sappy garrigue and pepper all emerge from this more medium to full-bodied, seamless 2018 that has plenty of upfront charm yet should evolve gracefully for 10 to 12 years. JEB DUNNUCK

 

2018 Santa Duc Gigondas Les Hautes Garrigues SHELF PRICE $135 YOUR PRICE $115
Special Six Pack Price $648 ($108 each)

A 50-50 blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre this vintage, the 2018 Gigondas Les Hautes Garrigues is more open and approachable than the somewhat dense and closed 2017. Floral hints of garrigue appear on the nose, and the fruit is less concentrated and suppler, making it easier to drink now. Mixed berries mark the full-bodied palate, framed by silky tannins and bright acids, leading into a long, mouthwatering finish. (96) JOE CZERWINSKI, The Wine Advocate

The flagship is 2018 Gigondas Les Hautes Garrigues and is another red from this estate that does everything right. Deep ruby/purple-colored with a brilliant bouquet of ripe wild strawberries, blueberries, ground pepper, garrigue, and new saddle leather, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, flawless balance, and building yet seamless tannins. It’s certainly in the new style of this estate and is beautifully done. Enjoy bottles anytime over the coming two decades. (96) JEB DUNNUCK

 

2018 Santa Duc Chateauneuf-du-Pape Habemus Papam SHELF PRICE $105 YOUR PRICE $90
Special Six Pack Price $504 ($84 each)

My favorite in the lineup, the 2018 Châteauneuf Du Pape Habemus Papam plays in the more full-bodied, powerful end of the spectrum, showing a smoking good core of ripe red and blue fruits, roasted garrigue, toasted spices, violets, and earth-like aromas and flavors. With plenty of mid-palate depth, an expansive, rounded texture, and a great finish, this sexy 2018 can be enjoyed any time over the coming 10 to 15 years. As with all the 2018s from this estate, the texture as well as the balance are spot-on. (95) JEB DUNNUCK

 

2018 Santa Duc Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Pied de Baud SHELF PRICE $140 YOUR PRICE $119
Special Six Pack Price $672 ($112 each)

Marked by aromas of resinous herbs, roses and raspberries, the 2018 Chateauneuf du Pape Le Pied de Baud is an enthralling blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre and 5% Cinsault from the Le Pied de Baud lieu-dit, in the south of the appellation. Raspberries, strawberries and redcurrants all make appearances, supported by crisp acids and silky, just-ripe tannins. Young Benjamin Gras is looking for tension in his wines, and this wine captures that elusive quality, lingering tautly on the mouthwatering finish. (96) JOE CZERWINSKI, The Wine Advocate

 

2018 Santa Duc Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Saintes Vierges SHELF PRICE $140 YOUR PRICE $119
Special Six Pack Price $672 ($112 each)

From the lightest, sandiest soils in the Gras Châteauneuf stable, the 2018 Chateauneuf du Pape Les Saintes Vierges is a blend of 80% Grenache, 18% Mourvèdre and 2% Cousoise. Befitting its origins, it’s the most perfumed of the three wines this year, with floral, rose-like notes, a veritable potpourri of spice and herb shadings and a vibrant core of red berries. It’s labeled (like the others) at 14% alcohol but feels lighter on the palate, soaring in silky arches of intermingled red berries and delicate tannins, then lingering elegantly on the finish. (97) JOE CZERWINSKI, The Wine Advocate