If one grower can be said to have put Gigondas on the map then that would be the modest, self-effacing Yves Gras at Santa Duc. Yves took over the domaine upon the retirement of his father, Edmond, in 1985. Previously, the entire production was sold in bulk to the negociants. Yves then took it upon himself to bottle his father's 1982 wine which was still in barrel and look for customers. He found that the local merchants and restaurants were not interested but the more quality-minded export markets were. Fifteen years later, with a brand new cuverie and a demand that way out-strips supply, Yves can boast that 95% of his entire production goes for export: an extraordinary achievement.
The estate comprises nineteen hectares of vineyards with ten hectares in Gigondas itself. A strong believer in Mourvedre, Yves has slowly replanted many of his vineyards and now has around 30% in total. This is not a small domaine any more with a production of over 90 '000 bottles.
Yves' commitment to quality is reflected in the number of times he is to be found in his vineyards. Here, everything is done to limit yields, including removal of excess bunches in July. Defoliation of the vines also enables the grapes to absorb more sunlight and helps to eliminate the danger of rot in the Autumn (the strong Mistral wind is also an important factor in reducing rot). Like Louis Barroul, Yves harvests late and personally sorts the good grapes from the bad as they are picked. In the cellars the grapes are not de-stemmed and only lightly crushed before fermentation. The wines undergo a long maceration, frequently over a month
Yves' 'flagship' wine is the special, limited Gigondas made from 50 year old vines grown on the nearby hills known as 'Les Hautes Garrigues". Only produced in top vintages, the wine is aged in a mixture of tank and new oak.