Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde 2018
Marcel Guigal is the single person most responsible for bringing this historically great wine region to prominence. The Northern Rhône Valley is the cradle of wine civilization in France, with vineyards planted today on the same spot where they were planted 2,500 years ago by Romans, and it offers a completely unique profile of wines that are so expressive and bring so much pleasure, yet satisfy the most intellectually thirsty drinker. To put it simply, Marcel Guigal transformed Côte-Rôtie, the world’s perception and love for the wines, and now with his son he has not stopped leading his obsessive attention to detail and quality.
Côte-Rôtie is situated in the northernmost region of the Rhone valley. The Syrah vine is planted on steep terraced hillsides which catch and focus the sun’s heat, giving the region its reputation and name: “Roasted Slope.” A small percentage of the white Viognier grape is coplanted with the Syrah, and the two are harvested and fermented together, giving the wine more elegance and lightness. The Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde de Guigal refers to the fact that the grapes come from the two areas of Côte-Rôtie, the Côte Brune and Côte Blonde. The historical legend is that long ago a lord deeded the Côte Brune to his dark-haired daughter and the Côte Blonde to his blond daughter. The soils of the Côte Brune are indeed darker, containing more iron and some clay while the paler soils of the Côte Blonde have more sand and limestone.
This blend of 96% Syrah and 4% Viognier was hand-harvested and sorted before a 3-week temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel. The wine ages for 36 months in oak barrel, of which 50% is new oak. All the barrels used by Guigal are produced on site by their cooper, a rarity in the wine world.
2018 is now confirmed as one of the truly great vintages in the Northern Rhône valley. Following a very wet Spring, Summer was dry and hot – the warmest vintage since 2003. Harvest was quick and early, starting on the last day of August and finishing in Côte Rôtie on September 20th. Yields were slightly above average, but the fruit was uniformly ripe, with some vineyards in Côte Rôtie coming in at 15o potential. Due to the heat, the vineyards on the elevated slopes fared best, and Cote Rotie, Hermitage, and the granitic-terraced sites in Saint-Joseph and Crozes excelling. The red wines are dense and concentrated, with exceptionally deep color and rich tannins, similar to 2015 but with even more intensity. The whites are rich, juicy, and succulent.
Dark ruby red in color. The nose presents spices, red berries and delicate oak aromas. The wine opens with round, soft tannin that are followed by rasberry, blackberry and vanilla. Overall, the wine is balanced between scarcely perceptible acidity and tannins which add ageing potential and softened by long ageing in oak.
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Wine Spectator - February 4, 2022
"This pushes lots of alder, incense and singed tobacco notes to the fore, with commensurate cherry and red currant paste flavors following behind that, finishing with perfume and red tea accents. This is not shy with its oak treatment and very nicely done." -J.M 2/22
James Suckling - February 9, 2022
"All of the classic Cote-Rotie aromas (leather, smoked bacon, spices and black cherry) pour from the glass of this rich and fleshy wine. Very silky texture, in spite of the generous, fine tannins, which build beautifully at the long, complete finish." J.S 2/22
Vinous - December 22, 2022
"Opaque violet color. Smoke-accented cherry, dark berry preserve, fruitcake and incense aromas are complemented by suggestions of vanilla, olive and baking spices. Fleshy and expansive in the mouth, offering alluringly sweet red and blue fruit, exotic spice and dark chocolate flavors and repeating smokiness. Displays excellent clarity and spicy cut on the long, smooth finish, which features polished tannins and reverberating blue fruit and floral notes." J.R 12/22
Wine Enthusiast - March 13, 2023 "Approachable and gentle, this wine has a dense core of brambly black and red berries, oak spice, warm earth and a stone minerality. It is balanced with round tannins, making the wine enjoyable now but it has enough structure to be easily cellared." -A.C.C 5/23
Other Wines by this Producer
Given that this particular wine can be the introduction to the entire Rhône Valley for a drinker, as well as the position they occupy in the Rhône, it is not enough for the Guigals to make a good Côtes du Rhône. They are relentlessly driven to produce a distinctive and outstanding wine that drives interest in exploring the entirety of the Rhône.
Guigal’s Côtes du Rhône Blanc both sets and steps outside the standard for the appellation and showcases one of the great secrets of the Guigal family: their specialization in the great white Rhône varieties. While only 8% of the Rhône’s production is white, a full 25% of Guigal’s production is white and they are today the single largest producer of whites in the Rhône Valley.
The Guigal family has made serious dry rosé wines since the 1940s, and their Côtes du Rhône Rosé, like all their Côtes du Rhône wines, is humble in name only. The wine bursts with irresistible fresh red fruits and yet is also serious and satisfying. While this Rosé is always a lovely aperitif, its intensity and richness make it perfect for the table, and it pairs well with all manner of cuisines. And starting with the 2020 vintage, the wine has a stunning new proprietary bottle: a subtle enhancement for an already elegant wine!
Guigal’s Vignes de l’Hospice is one of the finest sites in the Northern Rhone Valley. This steeply terraced vineyard used to be divided into three, but Guigal now owns majority of this parcel in order to restore perception of Saint-Joseph as an appellation of utmost quality. In fact, Guigal is often asked when they will produce a fourth “LaLa,” and their response is that their fourth single vineyard phenomenon of the Northern Rhone is already being produced: the Vignes de l’Hospice.
A result of its quality, Guigal’s Saint-Joseph Lieu Dit Rouge comes from the “Saint-Joseph” vineyard that gives the appellation its name. This site convinced the Guigals to work in Saint-Joseph and help to restore the historic perception of Saint-Joseph as an appellation of utmost quality. The 100% Syrah wine has complex and deep black fruit, floral, spice and mineral characteristics. Despite its concentration and powerful attack, the wine retains the trademark elegance that Saint-Joseph offers.
A result of its quality, Guigal’s Saint-Joseph Blanc Lieu Dit comes from the “Saint-Joseph” vineyard that gives the appellation its name. This site convinced the Guigals to work in Saint-Joseph and help to restore the historic perception of Saint-Joseph as an appellation of utmost quality. Saint-Joseph Blanc is a serious wine, with weight and complexity, and is deeply reflective of its vineyard sites. A seamless balance of freshness and fruitiness, pleasure and interest, and flavors and structure. Guigal’s specialty in whites is especially evident in this wine, as it is almost a deceptively serious wine.
Ermitage Ex-Voto represents the fulfillment of a longtime dream of Marcel Guigal’s to own vineyard land on the hill of Hermitage. Through the purchase of the de Vallouit and J. L. Grippat domaines in
2000, Guigal acquired four exceptional vineyard parcels on this legendary site. The 2001 vintage was the first release of this estate-bottled Hermitage red and white. The quality of the intense old-vine fruit is quite special, but given the Guigal’s already strong work in Hermitage, they decided to only release an Ex-Voto red or white when the wine is utterly exceptional and clearly superior to their appellation bottlings.
Ermitage Ex-Voto represents the fulfillment of a longtime dream of Marcel Guigal’s to own vineyard land on the hill of Hermitage. Through the purchase of the de Vallouit and J. L. Grippat domaines in 2000, Guigal acquired four exceptional vineyard parcels on this legendary site. The 2001 vintage was the first release of this estate-bottled Hermitage red and white. The quality of the intense old-vine fruit is quite special, but given the Guigal’s already strong work in Hermitage, they decided to only release an Ex-Voto red or white when the wine is utterly exceptional and clearly superior to their appellation bottlings.
Guigal produces an intensely concentrated, inviting and complex Châteauneuf-du-Pape that is almost unique to the region today. Their passion for Châteauneuf, the leading appellation of the Southern Rhône, runs as deeply as that for their home sites in the Northern Rhône. The combination of working with top fruit that has perfect ripeness, along with their extraordinary patience in the cellar, results in rich and full, yet savory, spicy, seamless and balanced wines. Wines to enjoy immediately but capable of aging, and, above all, wines that leave you wanting more.
La Doriane is a luxury cuvée of Condrieu that the Guigals have produced since the 1994 vintage. A great success since the first vintage, the wine always seems richly oaked and very fruity when young, transforming in 3-4 years into a seamlessly complex, aromatic and vibrant wine. La Doriane contradicts the accepted wisdom that Condrieu does not age well.