2006 Cote Rotie La Turque Etienne Guigal



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£201.00 DP

Average critic rating : 94.0 points

94

94

The 2006 Cote Rotie La Turque’s dark purple/plum hue is similar to La Mouline’s, but with slightly more opaqueness. A denser, but seemingly less complex style of wine, it offers notes of animal fat, creme de cassis, charcoal and new saddle leather in its full-bodied, ripe, rich personality. This 2006 will benefit from 2-4 more years of bottle age and drink well for 25-30 years thereafter. ||As I have written many times before, no one in the wine world is better at “raising” a wine (or as the French call it elevage) than Marcel Guigal, who learned the skills from his father, Etienne. Because everyone tends to focus on vintage conditions and terroir, the importance of a wine’s elevage is often overlooked, but Guigal’s unusually long tank, foudre and small barrel aging regime for all his red wines as well as several of his whites results in an array of remarkable wines time and time again. Even the most challenging vintages, which often taste under-nourished, vegetal and thin in their first year or two of life, tend to take on concentration and character, turning out to be some of the finest wines in many of the most difficult Rhone vintages. Moreover, Guigal’s wines always taste better out of bottle than from barrel, which speaks to his honesty and integrity as well as to his brilliance in deciding how long to age a wine in wood or tank as well as choosing the perfect moment to bottle it. None of this is as simple as it might sound, and that’s why Marcel Guigal gets my vote as the reigning genius in terms the upbringing his wines. For ten to twelve years after my first visit to this estate in the late 1970s, I tended to think of Guigal as primarily a red wine specialist. I still believe the red wines are the heart and soul of Maison Guigal, but the quality of the white wines has gone from strength to strength over the last few decades, and the Guigal family now routinely produces some of the finest dry whites of the entire Rhone Valley, including their humble Cotes du Rhone, and more particularly their white cuvees of Crozes-Hermitage, St.-Joseph, Hermitage and Condrieu. They produce more of the latter wine than any other proprietor of this tiny appellation. Guigal’s 2008 whites have turned out surprisingly strong. Guigal’s luxury cuvee of Condrieu, La Doriane, comes from the estate’s tiny holdings in some of the appellation’s finest terroirs, such as the Cote Chatillon, Volants, Colombier, and the Coteau Chery. Aged in 100% new oak (although it never shows any oakiness) and put through 100% malolactic fermentation, lees stirring is employed for La Doriane until the malolactic is finished. It is usually bottled after 12-14 months. Guigal’s red wines possess some of the lowest sulphur dioxide levels of any finished wines I have ever tasted. Most of them are approximately 10 ppm (parts per million) total SO2, which is virtually nothing. That said, the wines always age incredibly well, which goes back to Guigal’s brilliant, patient, long-term barrel, tank and foudre aging. The current value picks in Guigal’s red wine portfolio are his Crozes-Hermitage (one offering made) and his three St.-Joseph cuvees. Tasting through Guigal’s single vineyard Cote Roties, La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque, is equal to tasting through a museum dedicated to the world’s most compelling wines. Each is treated differently, although there are similarities. La Mouline always comes from the Cote Blonde, La Turque and La Landonne from the Cote Brune; La Mouline is co-fermented with 11% Viognier, La Turque with 5-6% Viognier and La Landonne is 100% Syrah. La Mouline, made from the oldest vines (over 60 years), is vinified by pump-overs; La Turque is vinified by punching down the cap; and La Landonne is vinified in a modern system of cap immersion. All of these techniques tend to produce different tannin levels as well as types of tannin. Despite the fact that these wines spend 42 months in 100% new French oak, the wood component disappears in the character of the wines at about age 6-10. Moreover, these cuvees are rarely racked and are not sulphured until prior to bottling. The total parts per million of SO2 in the three cuvees runs between 8 and 15 parts per million, which is essentially nothing. In even the worst Northern Rhone vintages, Guigal somehow manages to produce amazing wines from these vineyards. The first vintage for La Mouline was 1966, La Landonne 1978, and La Turque 1985. Of course, these wines are bottled with neither fining nor filtration. 1991 was a great year for Guigal’s single vineyard Cote Roties, and 2007 is the first vintage since that reminds me so much of that vintage. 2008 was a challenging vintage for the single vineyard Cote Roties. Yet fine wines have been produced in this difficult year – a testament to the skills of Marcel Guigal and his son, Philippe. Wine Advocate.February, 2011

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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