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Average critic rating : 96.5 points
The 2006 Cote Rotie La Landonne may merit a three digit score by the time it is bottled. A dense purple color is accompanied by an extraordinary bouquet of burning embers, espresso roast, black currants, blackberry liqueur, and pain grille. With aeration, bacon fat and licorice characteristics also emerge. The sweetness of the tannin, the extraordinary intensity of the flavors, and the remarkable finish suggest this is another legendary effort from Marcel Guigal and his son, Philippe. (Not yet released) While the entire world of wine knows how profound Guigal’s red wines are, they may not know that he continues to demonstrate a complete mastery of white wine varietals, from his lowly Cotes du Rhone blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Clairette, and Bourboulenc, to his seriously-endowed dry whites from the northern Rhone. Over recent years, Guigal has been attempting to produce an interesting, fairly-priced, delicious Crozes-Hermitage. (The overall level of quality from this complex appellation is less than exciting.) Guigal is becoming one of the most important producers of high quality St.-Joseph. He fashions three cuvees, a general appellation offering, his St.-Joseph Lieu-Dit St.-Joseph, and the limited production Vignes de l’Hospice, which comes from high elevation, steeply terraced vines planted at the top of the small mountain that dominates the town of Tournon. Along with Chapoutier’s St.-Joseph Les Granits, Guigal’s Vignes de l’Hospice is one of the most profound wines of the appellation. It comes from a 5.5 acre parcel at the top of the small mountain that dominates the town of Tournon. The soils are decomposed granite with essentially the same soil base as the great vineyard of Hermitage across the river known as Les Bessards. One can argue that by producing the Cote Rotie Chateau d’Ampuis, Guigal is pulling some high quality material away from his Brune et Blonde, and it seems to me that only in the greatest vintages is the Brune et Blonde as consistent as it was in the past. That said, the Chateau d’Ampuis is superb. This cuvee comes from some of the top vineyards planted on the steep hillsides of Cote Rotie, such as Le Clos, La Grande Plantee, La Pommiere, Pavillon Rouge, Le Moulin, and Guigal’s most recent purchase, La Viria, which I suspect will become another single vineyard Cote Rotie in a few years. There are around 2,000 cases of this cuvee, and it is aged 30 or more months in 100% new oak. Guigal’s single vineyard Cote Roties are other-worldly in nearly every vintage. I have given these offerings more perfect scores than any other wines in the world. They represent three completely different expressions of Cote Rotie, and are made in limited quantities. There are about 1,000 cases of La Landonne, and 500-600 cases each of La Mouline and La Turque. La Mouline, which includes the highest percentage of co-fermented Viognier (11%), is always the more delicate, voluptuous wine with the most complex aromatics. La Turque is a denser, more gamy, meaty effort with approximately 7% Viognier co-fermented. It comes across as a completely different style of wine. La Landonne, which is grown in pure schist on the steep hillsides of the northern-most sector of the appellation, is 100% Syrah. It is the densest, most concentrated, masculine, and tannic of these three cuvees. Regardless of the vintage’s style and personality, La Mouline will always be the most flattering to drink young, followed by La Turque, and lastly by La Landonne. All three of these offerings are aged for a remarkably long, 42 month period in 100% new oak barrels (but they are never oaky), and are bottled unfined and unfiltered. They typically have 30+ years of longevity in top vintages. In short, they are singular expressions of greatness from spectacular vineyards that are brought to fruition with non-interventionalistic, creative yet distinctive winemaking. A re-visit to the 2004s has proven that Guigal’s long barrel aging can produce win 60811,10202,8021,1395,2005,1,Robert Parker"
A surprisingly structured, full-bodied, masculine wine in the vintage is the 2006 Cote Rotie la Landonne. Still inky colored and loaded with notions of beef blood, black olive, peppery herbs, smoke and scorched earth-like minerality, it still needs another 3-4 years of cellaring to start to be approachable. It will certainly be one of the longest-lived wines in the vintage and will have 3-4 decades of overall longevity. eRobertParker.com.September, 2015
Etienne Guigal: The Importance
Guigal is one of the most famous producers in the world and is regarded by Robert Parker as “the axis upon which the Northern Rhône rests.” Established in 1946 by Etienne Guigal, he passed it to his son Marcel and now, in turn, Marcel’s son Philippe is assuming the mantle. Parker describes this family business as “a qualitative locomotive that has brought attention to the Rhône Valley, raising the quality bar for the entire region.” And he has awarded their wines more perfect 100 point scores than any other producer on earth.
Jeff Leve of The Wine Cellar Insider says “the benchmark for quality in the Northern Rhône is set by Guigal’s Côte-Rôtie wines”, a view that Jancis Robinson shares. She says the importance of Guigal revolves largely around the “so-called Cru wines (La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque)”, also affectionately known as the La Las, which are “dark, dramatic mouth-fillingly rich and oaky expressions of the Syrah grape.” Find out more about these below…
Etienne Guigal: The Insight
As the largest producer in Côte-Rôtie, this is the place to start. In Robert Parker’s opinion Guigal “has largely defined that appellation with his three spectacular single-vineyard offerings: La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque. These immortal wines sell for a king’s ransom, but they are as good as anything produced anywhere in the world, and they age magnificently.” These wines are often talked about in the same breath as the First Growths in Bordeaux and the greatest Grands Crus of Burgundy. These three late-harvested Syrahs come from a positively miniscule yield of grapes and have received 27 perfect 100 point scores from Wine Advocate at time of writing; a figure that is sure to continue on its upward trajectory. The consistent quality of these wines make them a collectors dream; over the past twenty years they have received an average score of 96 points from Wine Advocate and, during this time, only a handful of the total 60 releases have ever slipped beneath 90 points. Jancis Robinson describes the purpose of these phenomenal wines to be “to knock the taster’s socks off” and their rarity, with only 400-700 cases of each being made each year, make them very precious commodities that are extremely hard to come by.
According to Jeff Leve La Mouline’s “texture in unlike any other wine in the world” and it is “one of the few phenomenally expensive wines that’s worth the money.” The Syrah and Viogner used to make it come from a single hectare plot of vines on Côte Blonde with an average age of 50 years (although many are approaching 100 years old).
La Landonne is 100% Syrah from slightly younger vines; it is the most robust and mineral of the three and longest ageing.
La Turque is the most recently created of the La Las and comes from an incredibly steep vineyard planted with Syrah and Viognier. Many consider it a midway point between the exotic La Mouline and the inky La Landonne.
As as many critics focus on the La Las, some of the other sensation wines from this magnificent producer slip under the radar. In particular Guigal’s lieu-dit St Joseph offers terrific value. This tiny single vineyard at the northern edge of the valley, planted with old vines ranging from 20 to 75 years of age, produces a very special wine that as Jeb Dunnuck attests “ages beautifully”. Alternatively, those wishing to sample Guigal’s Côte-Rôties without the price tag associated with the La Las, may wish to consider Château d’Ampuis or Brune et Blonde, which are some of the finest wines produced in the region.
Elsewhere, Guigal produces a rich and consistently highly-rated Condrieu called La Doriane, and according to John Livingstone-Learmonth of DrinkRhone.com they also offer “very reliable quality in the large production wines like the southern Rhône Côtes du Rhône.” Intelligent purchasing of property in Hermitage in the early 2000s has allowed Guigal to significantly increase the quality here too, producing limited numbers of cases from parcels in lieux-dits of Bessards, le Méal, Beaume, Pierrelle and les Murets. Ermitage Ex Voto was first released in 2001 and has shot to fame almost instantly.
Etienne Guigal: The Background
To get a steer on the style of Guigal, John Livingstone-Learmonth advises that: “Marcel Guigal has always followed a new oak, long ageing route for the red wines.” In fact the La Las spend around three and half years in oak, making barrels extremely important to Guigal, hence why they own their own cooperage and many thousand casks. This demonstrates the attention to detail of this producer, but if further affirmation is needed, Robert Parker says: “I have never seen a producer so fanatical about quality as Marcel Guigal.”
Etienne Guigal began working at Vidal Fleury in the late 1920s; he left just after World War II to set up his own company Establisments Guigal. He was joined by his son Marcel in 1961 and later the pair bought Vidal Fleury, where Etienne had cut his teeth. Although Vidal Fleury is run independently, the Guigal family still lend a hand. Since then Château d’Ampuis, Jean-Louis Grippat, Vallouit and Domaine de Bonserine have been added to the portfolio. Now Guigal owns property in Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Saint Joseph, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel, Gigondas and Côtes-du-Rhône, producing incredible wines from predominantly Syrah, Grenache, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier.
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