A former Parisian fireman, and now the mayor of Gigondas (no joke!), Eric Ughetto took over the family’s vineyards in the early 1990s. Later, his wife, Sophie, joined him and they made their first estate wine with the 2000 harvest. A small estate with only 15 hectares (a little over 35 acres), it is operated almost entirely by this husband and wife team. They do the vineyard work together, but have clear lines elsewhere: Eric makes the wine and Sophie runs the commercial aspects. Simon, their young son, is already being groomed to start the process of taking the reigns from his pioneering parents.
It’s no surprise here, just like in any serious estate, that Eric and Sophie stress the importance of their vineyards over all else. The domaine is consciously run without pesticides, chemical fertilizers or herbicides. Since their beginning they have utilized organic methods and are now certified.
The Southern Rhône region is one of France’s most warm Mediterranean climates, and home to the infamous wine region, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. While Châteauneuf garners attention for their powerful and expressive wines led by the noble Grenache grape, there are other villages that are often times more charming and far less commercial, such as Domaine La Roubine’s home towns, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Seguret and Sablet. These three appellations, on the north side of the famous limestone cliffs, the “Dentelles de Montmirail,” are known for powerful and friendly wines of structure with high-toned, regional wild herbs of Provence aromas, referred to as “garrigue.” The soils of these three areas have a complex geological history with interesting microclimates that are often not well understood. Most of these wines are drunk in their youth, but extended time aging in the cellar is what gives true definition and magic to the wines of the Southern Rhône.