At a national committee meeting held on Thursday 8th September, members of the Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO) voted unanimously to ratify the change to the appellation guidelines to allow white wines into AP Gigondas.
A working group of growers and négociants has been pursuing the amendment for 11 years.
The amendment states that white Gigondas must contain a minimum 70% Clairette. Other permitted varieties include Bourboulenc, Clairette Rose, Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Piquepoul and Roussanne. Secondary varieties Viognier and Ugni Blanc will be allowed, but only to a maximum of 5%.
There has been a tradition of white wine production previously in Gigondas but following its promotion to cru in 1971, most white vineyards were ripped out, as the appellation was granted for red and rosé wine only.
Some producers kept their white vineyards, but until now they have only been able to bottle them under the generic AP Côtes du Rhône. Currently there are 16ha planted to white grapes in the appellation, split between 30 different owners.
Head of the Gigondas growers’ syndicat Louis Barruol, who is also the owner of Château de Saint Cosme, said: ‘We’ve been making whites for decades on this terroir, and not being able to call them Gigondas reflects a historical mistake. Now our Clairette on limestone will be able to sing using the right words.
‘For me there is a feeling of collective achievement, and today I think of our fathers who worked for this wonderful appellation before us with passion and selflessness.’
A further dozen producers have expressed their intention to plant white varieties, bringing the share of companies making white Gigondas up to 15% within the next five years.
Limestone soils and high-altitude terroir makes Gigondas an obvious site within the southern Rhône to produce a fresh style of white wine.