General Blog

Guigal Comes to Wellington

By September 4, 2014No Comments
I haven’t had the opportunity of keeping up with the famous Guigal firm of the Rhone for a couple of years, apart from trying the odd Cote Rotie ‘La La’ in occasional tastings. That changed when Brett Crittenden, Guigal’s brand ambassador came to town for his first visit in a couple of years. Brett’s been a regular caller to these shores, from his base in Bordeaux, enabling wine aficionados the chance to keep up with and be familiar with some of the superstar wines of the planet.

Over a speedy lunch at Wellington’s excellent Capitol restaurant, Brett took me through a quick-fire tasting of much of the current range of wines, before he headed off to conduct a masterclass with key Wellington hospitality trade. Guigal has quietly acquired key vineyards and holdings over the years, ensuring the land and the vines are top notch, offering another dimension to the Guigal portfolio and consolidating the quality overall. The current range reflects the improvements that are a consequence of the new cellars operating from 2007. Brett sees the wines, especially the whites, being even more precise than ever. www.guigal.com

Brett Crittenden – Guigal Brand Ambassador

The Wines
Here, I offer my notes on the wines tasted with scores, with the proviso that these are brief impressions only.

Flight One: Cotes du Rhone
Although the Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2012 (17.0+/20) is 70% Viognier, 10% Roussanne, 9% Marsanne, 8% Clairette and 3% Bourboulenc, it’s all Southern Rhone fruit, all stainless-steel fermented. Pale straw in colour, the bouquet is gentle with a soft core of exotic florals and apricotty fruit. Dry to taste, the palate mirrors the nose with its soft florals and volume. There’s a little alcohol heat which leads on to a little phenolic grip, and the wine finishes dry. RRP $26.95

The Cotes du Rhone Rosé 2012 (17.5/20) has a style similar to Tavel, and is 60% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 7% Syrah and 3% Mourvedre. Pale salmon-pink, soft, cooked strawberry fruit aromas show a little savouriness for interest on bouquet and palate. Attractively lush and juicy, without losing any mouthwatering and refreshing qualities, the sweetness and softness of the fruit appeals. RRP $26.95

The marvel wine of Guigal is the Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2011 (17.0+/20), with a production of over 4 million bottles. 60% Syrah, 35% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre, this is deep ruby-red and healthy-looking, the nose is harmonious with good ripeness of red fruits and some country savouriness. Well-weighted with good body, the fruit is a little restrained, but the wine is positive, vinous and shows fruit, all in balance and harmony. The Syrah brightness and Grenache sweetness is all there, and the wine will keep its fans. RRP $26.95

Flight Two: Saint Joseph
Possibly the most under-rated Guigal wine, the St Joseph Rouge 2011 (18.0-/20), made from 100% Syrah is youthful with purple hues, and classically fragrant and perfumed, with floral-laced red berry and spiced fruits. Quite succulently sweet in fruit, this has a fine-grained tannin core and fresh acid lift and brightness, the mouthfeel supple and accessible. A classically ‘feminine’ St Joseph that is more than just pretty, it will keep well, 6+ years. RRP $61.95

A step up into the luxury category is the St Joseph ‘Lieu Dit’ 2011 (19.0/20), 100% Syrah from the J-L Grippat vineyard, and 24 months in new oak. Dark, deep ruby-red with purple hues, the bouquet is full and integrated with lush and exotic soft red fruits and spices that unfold floral perfumes, then waves of spicy cedar-like oak. On palate, rich and plush with supple and fine textures underlined by an acid line, waves of spicy red fruits are infused by the smoky, cedary, exotic oak. The beauty of the appellation and the vintage are in synergy. RRP $94.95

Flight Three: Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage
The vineyards of Crozes-Hermitage are cooler than most realise. The Crozes-Hermitage 2010 (17.5/20) is 100% Syrah aged in 3 y.o. oak. Dark ruby-red, still youthful with purple. This has a firm, densely concentrated bouquet with complex black berry fruits, black pepper and reductive elements in the background. Showing some stalkiness and herbal nuances to the black fruits, this is firmly structured with plenty of acid bite and liveliness. The firmness and tightness will mean cellaring is required. RRP $49.95

2008 was a “tricky year” in the Rhone, but the Hermitage 2008 (18.5/20) is the big surprise for me. The ‘Ex Voto’ Hermitage was declassified, and ended up in this label. 100% Syrah. Deep ruby-red with some garnet and brick on edge, this has a firmly concentrated bouquet of black berry fruits with complex secondary dried herb and game notes. A powerful wine on palate, this has layers of complex savoury game unfolding from the dark herb-laced black fruits, with plenty of signature spicy, cedary new oak. The intensity, firmness and chewiness of the tannins and acid line will see it keep 8-10 years. RRP $137.95

Flight Four: Cote-Rotie
With all the exotic single vineyard bottlings available, albeit in tiny quantities, the benchmark for the appellation remains the Cote-Rotie ‘Brune et Blonde’ 2010 (19.0-/20), 96% Syrah and 4% Viognier, aged in 60% new oak, 40% from estate fruit. Dark ruby-red with some brick on edge. The bouquet is linear and focussed with fragrant red fruits, a little resinous oak melded with stalk and herbal nuances tending complex in the savoury spectrum, building in depth in the glass. The palate has a concentrated and sweet core with great drive, and a seamless, fine-tannin flow. Pure black fruits and minerally notes open out with richness, purity and clarity. The oaking is very sensitive and allows the appellation to speak. RRP $145.95

You’d expect the Cote-Rotie ‘Chateau d’Ampuis’ 2010 (19.0+/20) to be a stellar jump in quality over the ‘Brune et Blonde’ and it is in sheer oaking, being aged 38 months in new oak. But the ‘Brune et Blonde’ is more accessibly delicious. The ‘Chateau d’Ampuis’ is very youthful, with purple red colour and a densely concentrated bouquet, solidly packed with spicy red fruits interwoven with layers of oak cedar and toast. The structure and extraction is considerable, with very fine-grained tannins filling the mouth. The oaking is lavish and integral with the spicy, exotic fruit. A wine destined for a long life, 15-20 years easily. This is 93% Syrah and 7% Viognier. RRP $303.95

Finally, the Cote-Rotie ‘La Turque’ 2008 (19.0+/20), 93% Syrah and 7% Viognier, from a challenging vintage, but still with the richness to handle 42 months in new oak. Even, ruby-red colour with depth. The aromatics are beautifully integrated and harmonious with seamlessly interwoven layers and waves of savoury and spicy red fruits, a lifted exotic floral component, cedary and toasted oak, all exceptionally refined in expression. Superbly rich and luscious on palate, but with a stylish restraint, the detail showing excellent exoticism, layers of red fruits, earth, spices, cedar, savoury herbs and game. The palate is velvety in texture, but the extraction is significant, lurking to prevail. There is vitality with fine acidity underlining the richness. This will retain a degree of elegance showing the vintage. 10-15+ years easily. RRP $704.95

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