Cotes-du-Rhone enthusiasts revere Guigal’s wines. This family-owned merchant-grower based in Ampuis, Cote Rotie, in Northern Rhone is famous for its robust, balanced and true-to-terroir wines.
Although established by Etienne Guigal in 1946, it has become one of the most famous, if not the most famous, merchant-grower in the region. This success can be attributed mainly to Marcel Guigal, Etinne’s son, a meticulous, talented winemaker and blender.
owns 12 hectares of prime vineyards in Cote Rotie, and the wines from there gained a world wide reputation after they were praised extravagantly by the American wine critique Robert Parker, in the 1980’s. This catapulted Marcel to worldwide fame.
R. Parker, a lawyer turned wine critique, has a huge following in the U. S. A and other English-speaking countries to whose palates and intellects his writing appeals. Essentially, he likes robust and complex wines, and those who cerate such libations win his praise.
The Cote Rotie appellation comprises two distinct single vineyards; Cote Brune, upstream from the Reynard, and Cote Blonde downstream.
The vines were planted by Romans and have existed for nearly 24 centuries. Cote Brune, a dark, powerful, robust and multidimensional wine consists of syrah exclusively, whereas Cote Blonde has Viognier and syrah in its blend. The vineyards are terraced and difficult to maintain, but the exposure and drainage are such, that the fruit harvested yields extraordinary and deeply flavored wines.
Both Cote Rotie, Blonde and Brune are some of the most expensive red wines of the region. Guigal’s so called cru wines, La Mouline, and La Landonne , and La Turque are dramatic, mouth-filling, rich, opulent, oaky expressions of low yield Syrah a petit grain.
Some connoisseurs consider all of the three prestige wines of Guigal over-oaked but there are enough of them who wait patiently to grab the average production of 600 cases a year, pending vintage, within days of release.
Actually, these wines are on allocation to different importers around the world.
Guigal’s Condrieu overhanging the right bank of the Rhone is planted to Viognier, a variety imported from Dalmatia by Emperor Probus in the first century A D. Guigal’s Condrieu possesses a golden colour, is refined, emanates aromas of apricots and white peach. The complexity and persistence are legendary amongst connoisseurs lucky enough to afford it.
In the cool cellars of Guigal, 3000 barrels of wine age quietly in barrels. Only refined oak ensures the subtle interchange to develop and improve the wine.
Day after day the wine becomes more refined, developing and blossoming in barrels waiting patiently, occasionally up to four years, for blending or bottling.
Sadly, many enthusiasts forget the negociant wines of Guigal, from bought wines that Marcel Guigal creates.
In 1984 Guigal bought and revitalized an old and reputable shipper Vidal-Fleury, where Etienne worked for a decade and half before founding his own company. Vidal-Fleury is managed independently, although Marcel makes the Cote Rotie.
Marcel is now training the next generation of management, his son Phillipe, to continue the legend.
Guigal’s red wines are often on Vintages releases, and his generic Cotes du Rhone graces the general list of L. C. B. O.