A THRILLING AND DIFFERENT SAUTERNES VINIFIED WITHOUT USE OF OAK - STAGGERING QUALITY
Julie Gonet-Medeville (above) runs family business together with her husband, Xavier
Both Chateau Gilette and sister property Chateau Les Justices are seldomly mentioned in the wine press and wine-journalists usually drive quickly through the village of Preignac to check out classified growths instead. prperties. It's a pity, because they would easily discover, how really excellent wines are made there!
Gilette and sister property Les Justices has been run by Julie Gonet-Medeville and her husband Xavier Gonet (who comes from famous family in Champagne, Gonet), since 2004, when they took over from Julie's parents, Christian & Andrée Medeville. I've known Christian and Andrée Medeville since 1987, when I first visited Gilette, and both wines hit me that hard with their excellency, that I haven't recovered yet. Both are awesome wines at their own level.
Julie takes care of marketing and travelling abroad to spread the fame of both estates, while Xavier takes care of vinification. And both do excellent job. Julie is fully educated lawyer but left that path and decided to carry on family tradition.
Website covering all estates owned by Julie & Xavier Medeville - http://gonet-medeville.com
This property has been owned by Medeville family since 1710. It's situated in Preignac commune; soil here is sandy with subsoil consisting of stones embedded in clay. There are 4.5 ha of vines planted with 90% Semillon, 8% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Muscadelle. The average age of vines is 40 years and yield per ha varies between 9 and 15 hl, all depending on the vintage.
Only must with sugar content corresponding to at least 20% alcohol is allowed to be further processed. Vinification is classic and traditional, but when it comes to ageing of wine, then Gilette is a total break with wine making traditions in the district. It ages in 15-20 years (!) – and only in small sealed concrete vats, where all air is removed. No oak barrels here!
The purpose with this kind of ageing is that the wine doesn't get any other taste from barrels and keeps its freshness and vigour. If you are a Sauternes freak, then Gilette is a must, even if not everybody will like its "heavy" style (rich on alcohol) with fresh sweetness and energy, because some got used through the years to the "old" (in wines with quite some age) sweetness, which is to be found in traditionally made wines.
For me, Gilette is very often among the very best wines in the district challenging the "king" d'Yquem. Superbly concentrated wine with freshness, fantastic botrytised flavors like almonds (imho the very typical flavor for Gilette), acacia honey, mandarine/mandarine peel, orange confit, peach and honey melon.
Gilette is quite expensive, but one has to understand that cost of production returns back to Gilette earliest 20 years after the harvest (16 years ageing + 4 years in bottle before release) because of its specific production method.
1997 Gilette 95p
Tasted in April 2017. This wine is the newest release from Julie and Xavier Gonet-Medeville. 20 years in concrete vats. Tasted like honey essence, fresh and very intense, with the hallmark flavour of the property, grilled almonds, then mango and great acidity. Simply stunning!
1996 Gilette 94-95p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2019. Consistent notes. In this vintage grapes were dried by wind (passerilage) and not by huge attack of botrytis. Anyway, it possessed very good sweetness, almond flavour, intensity and concentration, very nice acidity and length.
1990 Gilette 96-97p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2017. Consistent notes. showed great acidity and sweetness, big concentration, great complexity, acacia honey and strong taste of almonds, long finish. Very classy and refined wine!
1989 Gilette 96-97p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2013. Consistent notes. Heavy style with alcohol very present but not dominating. Extremely intense botrytised flavors of creme brulée, pineapple and melasse, great interplay between sweetness and acidity, stunning concentration and depth, very strong structure, extremely long finish. Typical of the vintage.
1988 Gilette 98p
Tasted in April 2010. More tight, richer and more concentrated than 1986. Stunning example of Sauternes at age of 22 years with extraordinary freshness and vitality.
1986 Gilette 96p
Tasted three times - last time in December 2016. Consistent notes. More open than 1988, almonds again, fresh, incredibly scented on the nose and palate, sophisticated, great depth and backbone, long and velvety on the palate with strong and fat finish. This is heavenly treat and a marvellous wine. In December 2016, it gav 1986 Yquem run for the money!
1985 Gilette 94p
Tasted 3 times - last time in April 2010. Consistent notes. Very honeyed and almondy flavors on the nose and palate, candied mandarine/orange/lemon peel, excellent acidity with slight bitterness, which keeps this wine fresh and alive.
1983 Gilette 97p
Tasted four times - last time in April 2010. Consistent notes. This wine gives 1986 run for the money and is close to 1988 in terms of depth, concentration and intensity of botrytised flavors. Fantastic flavors ranging from acacia honey, almonds, apricot, candied peach and mandarins and mango. Astonishing piece of winemaking.
1982 Gilette 90p
Tasted in April 2010. Straightforward wine in this difficult vintage, significantly lighter and less rich than 1983. Very tasty wine with nice intensity of botrytised flavors like peach, honey melon and apricot mixed with brown sugar.
1981 Gilette 92p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2010. Consistent notes. Botrytised flavours of toffée, créme brulée, intense, fine balance between acidity and sweetness, fine length and fine caressing finish.
1979 Gilette 93p
Tasted three times - last time in April 2010. Consistent notes. Same style as 1981 but I find 1979 more powerful, richer and longer on the palate.
1970 Gilette 91p
Tasted in April 2003. Spicy acacia honey, quite alcoholic, créme brulée, elegant, well-balanced. Lighter than usual but has immediate appeal due to its roundness and soft texture.
1967 Gilette 96p
Tasted twice - last time in December 2006. Consistent notes. This vintage's is one of the most famous in Sauternes and Gilette is among top wines but not as phenomenal as d'Yquem and Climens. Almonds marinated in Grand Marnier, fresh, incredibly scented on the nose and palate, sophisticated, great depth and backbone, long and velvety on the palate with strong and fat finish. Awesome intensity and structure. First tasted in June 1990 - hasn't changed at all for 16 years. What a proof of ageing potential!
1937 Gilette 100p
Tasted in June 1990. One of the best ever sweet wines I've tasted. It was true nectar of Gods with everything sensantional in this wine. I*m running out of superlatives!!
Château Les Justices
Sister property of Gilette. The vineyard covers 8.5 ha of vines. planted with 88% Sémillon, 18% Sauvignon Blanc and 4% Muscadelle. Vines are 25 years old on average. Some decades ago Les Justices was vinified in the same way as Gilette, but with only 4 years' stay in concrete vats. Nowadays it's vinified traditionally and ageing takes plase in concrete vats for 18 months.
Les Justices is excellent value for the money and is often better in terms of quality and consistency than several highely priced classified growth in Sauternes & Barsac. It's 1/6 of the price of Gilette.
2016 Les Justices (barrel sample) 91p
Tasted in April 2017. A bit on the light side, elegant and with lot of finesse. Catchy sweetness, tasty and with nice acidity.
2014 Les Justices (barrel sample) 92p
Tasted in March 2015. Strong acidity, pineapple, petrol, candied orange peel, Long finish. Splendid.
2012 Les Justices (barrel sample) 88-89p
Tasted in April 2013. Dried apricot, pineapple, almonds, nice, fruit and botrytised flavours, nice acidity, lighter than usual.
2011 Les Justices (barrel sample) 92p
Tasted in April 2013. Incredibly intense, lush, fabulous sweetness and acidity. Nose of orange/mandarin, candied pineapple. Very, very long finish. Excellent.
2010 Les Justices (barrel sample) 92-93p
Tasted in September 2011. Even more intense flavours here, more concentration and bigger length. Excellent for the vintage as well.
2009 Les Justices (barrel sample) 92p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2010. Consistent notes. Very fine botrytised flavors like acacia honey, pineapple, pear, great intensity, finesse and elegance. Great depth and length. Excellent for the vintage.
2008 Les Justices 91p
Tasted in October 2010. Resembles a lot of 2006 vintage, maybe 2008 has more botrytised flavors to show and expresses moe intensity.
2007 Les Justices 93p
Tasted in April 2010. More intensity here than in 2009, beautiful acidity and sweetness, long on the palate, lingering honeyed aftertaste. Great balance and richness. Formidable work in the cellar.
2006 Les Justices 91p
Tasted in April 2010. Quite less intense and less richer on the nose and palate than 2007. Still, it's a fine quality wine.
2005 Les Justices 93p
Tasted three times - last time in April 2010. Consistent notes. Hugely intense nose of acacia honey, mango, apricot, very honeyed on the palate, beautiful balance and acidity. Exceptional value for the money and again a stunning effort from this property.
2004 Les Justices 91p
Tasted in April 2010. Downscaled version of 2005 and like 2006, it's a fine value for the money.
2003 Les Justices 92+p
Tasted in April 2010. Atypical for the property by being thick and heavy, but no complaints from me! Brown sugar, tropical flavors (mango, guava, sweet pineapple and candied mandarine peel). Acidity is just splendid and doesn't allow the sweetness to take command here. Very intense. long and with long, fat and honeyed aftertaste. Will go excellently with heavy spiced Asian food due to its high content of residual sugar.
2002 Les Justices 91p
Tasted in April 2010. Represents excellent value for the money, créme brulée, complex, rich and well-craftet. This wine makes 2002 vintage proud!
2001 Les Justices 94p
Tasted 4 times - last time in April 2010. Consistent notes. Fantastic nose of botrytised flavors like melasse, brown sugar, peach, acacia flower/honey and melon. Stunning richness, depth and acidity, concentration and length. The finish goes on and on. This is angelic treat for the money and mind-blowing effort from this not classified growth.
2000 Les Justices 89p
Tasted in April 2003. Not exactly pure botrytised flavors - the sweetness comes from wind-dried grapes. Elegant, charming, quite intense and well-structured. A nice wine to be enjoyed while you wait for the famous vintages.