Gigondas vineyards have undoubtedly been producing wine at least since Roman times; according to some, the name of the village in Roman times was "Jocunditas", Latin for "Happy Town" - surely an accolade to those early winemakers! Back in 1670 the Archives de Rochegude noted the quality of the vineyards on the stony hill of la Gardette just outside the village of Gigondas, so it is no surprise that the Meunier family has been making good wine here for five generations.
Until the middle part of the twentieth century the slopes of la Gardette were not devoted solely to vines as they are now but grew olives, apricot and cherries, and even the Jurdic family goats grazed there. What little wine was produced was usually sold to negotiants, probably finding its way into the wines of nearby Chateauneuf du Pape.
Victor Jurdic >
In 1946 Victor Jurdic was in the vanguard of those winemakers who knew that Gigondas wines could establish a reputation of their own, and produced the first wines to be bottled under the la Gardette name.
The appellation Moulin de la Gardette first appeared in 1958 after Geneviève Jurdic married Laurent Meunier who came from a struggling artistic and literary family in Paris. (Geneviève and Laurent are shown right at la Gardette in the 50's.) The "moulin" refers to the old windmill that once stood on the hill of la Gardette; however, although now millers by name, the Meunier - Jurdic families never worked the old mill which was, in fact, a wind-powered forge making horseshoes and tools, not flour or olive oil, as one might suppose.
The vines of la Gardette made fine Gigondas wine and, as the enterprise prospered, the Meunier family added other plots of land close around la Gardette. Nowadays, Jean Baptiste Meunier who took over the family business in 1990 tends mature vines with an average age of around 65 years in twenty-five different parcels of Gigondas garrigue.
The various plots offer differing aspects and a variety of soil types but all are high (100-330m) and dry, forcing the vine roots to search deeply for moisture and bring up the rich mixture of mineral nutrients that add such complexity and character to the Gigondas terroir. Here, on the mountain edges of the southern Rhone valley, the Mistral sweeps the air clean almost every day of the year and brings relief from the fierce summer sun. Yields are low in such conditions, but the hard work in the stony vineyards is rewarded by deliciously concentrated flavours in the wine.
Below, The Jurdic daughters in traditional costume picking the cherries that once grew alongside the vines.
(Left to Right, Thèrése, Marie-Elizabeth, Geneviève and Agnés)