Inhabited since prehistoric times, colonised by the Romans and seigneury of the Princes of Orange in the Middle Ages, Gigondas is a village at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail in the Haut Vaucluse. There are several hypothesis about the origins of its name: it comes from gignit undas which means “risen out of the waters” or maybe from Jucundas, a legionnaire and first owner of the place. Whatever it may be, its Roman name "Jocunditas" means joy or jubilation, very appropriate for this little village with a population of 700 which gives itself over to the cultivation of grapevines and the pleasures of wine.
Surrounded by more than 1250 hectares of vineyards, the village and its old houses rise up to the 11th century Sainte Catherine Church with its central tower flanked by a belfry and campanile and by an old sundial. Much higher up on the rocky ridge, the ruins of the medieval castle watch over the village like a sentinel. The vestiges of the old fortifications and protective wall descend and run along the village to the east.
Next to the church, you can visit the old buildings built in 1678 by a religious brotherhood to house children and the poor. Turned into a hospice in 1800 the buildings were then abandoned. Thanks to restoration work undertaken since 1982 by the association "Gigondas d’Hier et d’Aujourd’hui", the Hospice today houses winemakers on the ground floor and contemporary art exhibitions upstairs.
The village went a bit wild with its artistic spirit by installing 21 monumental sculptures created by contemporary artists, but there certainly must be something for all tastes.
Talking about taste... You can leave your car at the bottom of the village and walk up to the main square where you will find the café terraces and many wine cellars where you can taste and go home with one or several bottles of the renowned beverage that has made Gigondas famous.
The geological singularity of Gigondas, due to a combination of phenomena that also produced the Dentelles de Montmirail 200 million years ago, has made for a soil, or terroir for the wine, that is well-structured and unique. Add to that its geographical position between the 43rd and 44th parallel plus a favourable Mediterranean climate and it's clear that Gigondas' destiny would be in its grapes.
Its vineyards are believed to have produced wine since 2000 years ago and the town still carries on the most authentic of wine-making traditions.
Classed as Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Gigondas was the first wine-making area to obtain the “Cru des Côtes du Rhône” appellation in 1971.
The appellation produces mostly red wines, very little rosé and no whites. The red wines have a ruby or deep garnet colour. Balanced and robust, the predominance of the Grenache Noir grape gives them a palette of fruity aromas developing towards more spicy notes. Gigondas wines can be laid down.
Sainte Catherine Church in Gigondas
Gigondas in Provence
Vestiges of the fortifications of Gigondas
Village square of Gigondas
Gigondas Vineyard in the Dentelles of Montmirail
To the north of the village, along the road leading to the Dentelles, you will find the Romanesque chapel of Saint-Cosme and Saint-Damien rising out of the forests at the top of the hill and which once again gives Gigondas its medieval air.
The more athletic can continue their walks. Gigondas is at the foot of the formidable and grandiose Dentelles de Montmirail; marked trails leave from the village and head up into magnificent landscapes.
Several also lead south, all the way to Beaumes-de-Venise.
Romanesque Chapel Of Gigondas - Chapel of Saints Cosmas And Damian
Office de tourisme de Gigondas - Rue du Portail - 84190 Gigondas
+33(0)4 90 65 85 46http://www.gigondas-dm.fr/