St.-Damien was an Early Christian saint (martyred in the year 287 A.D.), considered the patron saint of doctors. There was a chapel to his honor in the tiny hamlet of La Baumette, just outside the village of Gigondas, where Joel Saurel lives. Saurel?s ancestors thus took the name St.-Damien for the D..D. St.-Damien is one of the Gigondas estates that draw fruit more from the vineyards on the plateau than from those on the chalky hillsides. The house style includes rich, black fruit character, with exotic smoke and black tea notes, derived from the richer clay and limestone soils on the plateau that spreads west and southwest from the Dentelles. Jo?l, 52, and his wife, Amie, 55, represent the fourth generation of Saurels (they are cousins of the Saurels at Montirius) to farm vineyards in Gigondas; previous generations sold the fruit to n?gociants. The D. had an earlier incarnation. In 1978 Jo?l and his brother bottled their estate?s own production for the first time. But in 1987 the brothers split; Jo?l stayed at the D.. Because he lacked vinification expertise (Jo?l had worked the vineyard while his brother made the wine), the estate?s grapes were sold once again to n?gociants until 1996, when Jo?l and Amie decided make a go of it on their own. There are now 42 acres of vines, nearly 30 in Gigondas..Souteyrade is one Joel?s best parcels, particularly in hot years, making a true vin de garde Gigondas, with great weight and power, as well as majestic structure.
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