The "keeper of the castle"
Jean-François Hénin, originally from Saint-Aubin in Burgundy, inherited his passion for wine in general, and especially the Mourvèdre varietal, from his father Stéphane Hénin, an agronomist known worldwide for his studies on the use of clay in winegrowing. It was in 2017 that this genial entrepreneur with an international career became the proud owner of Gigognan. With his thorough approach and deep desire to do things properly, this businessman has set himself the objective of making the estate one of the flagship wineries of the southern Rhône appellations.
As well as investing in cutting-edge technical equipment and prioritizing respect for the environment, this father of four has also surrounded himself with a talented team, including the oenologist from Burgundy Emmanuel Laurent as Managing Director, and Christophe Censier as Sales Director.
The Château Gigognan team
A long history dating back to antiquity
It was the Romans who began the custom of naming new wine estates after the legionaries to whom they were entrusted. It is thanks to this historical characteristic that a soldier called Gigius was given free rein to cultivate and lend his name to this wine estate. Some centuries later, in 1178, we find it mentioned in the records under the name Gigonius. A very old vine stock and fragments of amphora discovered on the estate prove that people have been growing vines and producing wine here since that era.
At the time of the Empire, the Romans built small temples along the roads for travellers. It was on one of these temples that the Saint-Martin Chapel was built in 987. Later, this priory was transformed into a Château. During the 17th and 18th centuries its prosperity earnt it the title of “village” or “commune”, and that is how a former place of worship and the surrounding estate became a fief which, with Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Bédarrides, formed a powerful principality commanded by the archbishops of Avignon. We then had to wait until 1996 to see Gigognan open a new chapter in its history when it was purchased by an entrepreneur from the region. The Château was entirely renovated, in 2012, a new team of professionals and experts was formed, and the vineyard enjoyed an unprecedented renaissance thanks to investments to boost the excellence of the estate’s wines.
As of 2017, the businessman Jean-François Hénin purchased the Château Gigognan estate with the ambition to produce great organic wines thanks to its exceptional terroirs. This project, which he has been leading ever since, is based on a huge plan to restructure the vineyard and to build a new, high-tech cellar complying with the very latest environmental standards. Additionally, he decided to buy parcels of vines from the famous Maison Jaboulet located on fabulous terroirs. Because preserving the biodiversity is also one of Jean-François Hénin’s biggest concerns, respect for nature is obviously a key part of the estate’s philosophy. Led by the vineyard manager Loïc Baillet, and the oenologist-cellar master Edouard Roques, everyone in the new technical team devoted to the organic approach now combines two, seemingly contradictory, qualities: the objective of allowing the terroir to express all the subtleties of its potential and the humility of helping it to do so as naturally as possible. And we can safely say that this challenge has been met when we taste the wines of Château Gigognan!
The second part of the renovation plan is to bring the château building itself up to the most recent standards in order to welcome guests in optimal conditions of safety and comfort. Under the dynamic leadership of Léonie Walle, the wine tourism activity is growing and now continues all year round!