Notes from Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant:
In 1971, the Saint-Joseph appellation was significantly expanded, bridging the gap between Cornas to the south and Côte-Rôtie in the north. The vast increase in acreage included lesser sites on flatter land, and many over-cropped, forgettable wines soon followed. The Gonon brothers break this paradigm completely, as they both farm and vinify in the old-school style. They work their ten hectares of land entirely by hand, the steep grade and narrow spacing making mechanization impossible in most parcels. Their vines are trained in the traditional échalas method, with a single stake per vine, and they do not trim the shoots. While the Gonons have been farming organically since 2004—without any chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides, and using all-natural composts—they obtained certification in 2013. Their low-yielding vineyards span the three original communes of Saint-Joseph, sitting on poor, well-draining granite and gneiss soils, including old-vine parcels purchased from the famous Raymond Trollat, now retired, in 2006. Vineyards are replanted with sélection massale cuttings from their strongest vines to perpetuate healthy rootstock and ensure genetic diversity. Once in the cellar, they ferment the wines traditionally in open, oak vats, with regular punch-downs by foot. The reds see a high proportion of stem inclusion, traditional in the region, and show classic aromatics of black olive, violets, and game with a great capacity for ageing. The Gonon brothers' wines are gutsy and wild, while still showing the freshness and delicacy typical of the appellation.