Producers, Winemakers

Producer of the Week: Château de Saint Cosme

Louis Barruol is heir to a fourteenth-generation family tradition at the historic Chateau de Saint Cosme, taking over the 15-hectare vineyards from his father in 1992. In the heart of the appellation Gigondas, the Château de Saint Cosme is an exceptional estate, with its Gallo-Roman fermentation vats perfectly preserved. It produces only Gigondas wines from the vineyards immediately around the Château.

The terroir in the Dentelles de Montmirail may come across as homogeneous, but is geologically actually far more diverse. Saint Cosme is exceptionally located at the crossing of two geological faults, a very rare occurance. This provides an extraordinary variety of soils alongside the cool climate (which provides for a later ripening).

The domaine’s dedication to the Saint Cosme tradition is all-out, aiming to express the extraordinary and diverse qualities of the terroirs. Combined with low-yielding old vines (an average of 60 years old), rich and concentrated fruit achieves this goal with ease.

Chateau de Saint Cosme produces a wide variety of wines – from a Côte-du-Rhône Rouge (the Les Deux Albion) to his much famed and sought-after single vineyard reds. His Hominis Fides, for example, is made from centuries-old vines! All reds are aged for 12 months, with the majority of the oak being made up from second and third fill barrels. The use of new oak is limited to between 20% – 30%.

Although the output is small, some excellent whites are also made. These are often overlooked, and are made from grapes that span the complete spectrum of traditional Rhône varietals. Louis also has an exciting négociant operation where he buys grapes from separate parcels he deems to have to have the quality to carry the Saint Cosme name. This allows followers of this mercurial winemaker to sample wines from the Northern Rhône such as Crozes-Hermitage, Côte-Rotre and Saint Joseph, to name a few.

Louis Barruol’s wine-making philosophy flows from a respect for traditional knowledge, the benefits of organic viticulture and understanding the terroirs. At Saint Cosme the team usually works “à la main” (manually by hand) to make wines that express their terroir with purity and personality and are balanced with a great ability to age.