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October 25, 2011

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 3: Guigal

Visited E. Guigal at their cellars in Ampuis, where we were received by Philippe Guigal. A pity that we did not get a chance to see the beautiful Château d’Ampuis.

Guigal is the other giant based in northern Rhône. They now produce 6 million bottles annually, across just about every appellation in the region. They have invested in a system custom designed by ABB to enable them to run the production side with just 3 people. They were also one of the first people to employ temperature-controlled tanks some 35 years ago.

Philippe told us a little about how much the Condrieu has grown over the years. Whereas the appellation covered only 8 or 9 hectares around 40 years ago, today it has grown to about 160 hectares. Guigal has the lion’s share of the production, putting out about 40% of the total volume. They have just increased their holdings a little more by buying half a hectare in Coteau de Vernon yesterday.

2010 Guigal Condrieu – very floral and sweet, with tropical fruits, apricot and mineral notes. Really ripe on the palate.

2010 Guigal Condrieu La Doriane – more mineral and steely, citrus, floral, same ripeness on the nose. Bigger body and a richer wine.

2007 Guigal Hermitage Blanc – a blend of 95% Marsanne with 5% Roussanne. A little lean with minerals and flint.

2007 Guigal Hermitage Ex-Voto Blanc – much bigger, with a beautiful toasty nose. But it’s not really ready yet, and is still a little pungent.

2007 Guigal Saint-Joseph Rouge – a little pungent, rubber, spicy, leather at first. Some minerals and sweet fruit later. Surprisingly smooth with good acidity.

2008 Guigal Saint-Joseph Vignes de l’Hospices – spicy, peppery, a little lean, toasty oak with good fruit. Good tannin structure.

2007 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde – spicy, opulent, ripe fruit, exotic spices, and smoked meat. Very nice.

2007 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Château d’Ampuis – Asian spices, turmeric, sweet and ripe fruit.

2006 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Château d’Ampuis – opened 24 hours earlier. Soft and elegant, with ripe fruit and spices.

2005 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Château d’Ampuis – opened 24 hours earlier. Really ripe… actually overripe and oxidized from too much aeration. Caramelized sugar on the nose.

2004 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Château d’Ampuis – cotton candy, sweet, minerals and saucisson… a little smoky.

2007 Guigal Hermitage Ex-Voto Rouge – minty, dried herbs, potpourri, smoky, ripe and fruity. A lovely wine but needs time to mature and soften.

2006 Guigal Hermitage Ex-Voto Rouge – spicy, sweet fruit, slightly oxidized a little smoked meat, a little green pepper.

2006 Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Mouline – La Mouline is made with fruit from 90-year old vines. Beautiful nose, with animal, leather and meaty notes. Very finely balanced, with some chewy tannins.

2006 Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque – surprisingly a little more floral, with leather, spices, mineral and salty. Very well balanced and rich.

2006 Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Landonne – much bigger than its siblings, meaty, very salty, mineral and smoke. Surpsingly sweet on the palate, and the tannins were softer than expected.

1980 Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Landonne – opened yesterday and a little oxidized. Smoky, animal, a little dusty and not very clean. Big nose of savory soy sauce, stewed prunes. Acidic on the palate and finish.

1983 Guigal Hermitage (Les Bessards) – this cuvée was never commercially released, and it was such a privilege to be able to taste this. Les Bessards was so good in 1983 that they kept a portion of this on its own without blending. Nose of tea leaves, savory, soy sauce and smoked meats. Actually it was reasonably sweet and fruity on the palate.

1979 Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Landonne – a beautiful wine. Farmy, bacon fat, savory, soy sauce, minerals, and a little floral. So elegant and well-balanced, over time it opened up further and was just beautiful and opulent.

Philippe’s father Marcel planted the vines in La Landonne in 1975 to celebrate Philippe’s birth, and 3 years later released the first vintage of La Landonne. 1979 was only the second vintage…

What a privilege it was to be able to taste many of these beautiful wines, and grateful for Philippe’s generosity as well as patience for spending so much time with us.

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