Saint-Joseph Lieu Dit Blanc 2021
Guigal’s Saint-Joseph Lieu Dit Blanc comes from the vineyard that gives the Saint-Joseph appellation its name, and is one of the finest sites in the Northern Rhone Valley. Made in minuscule quantities, the Lieu Dit Blanc is one of the most original and distinctive whites in the Rhone.
Guigal believes, as do a number of top producers working in the area, that Saint-Joseph will be one of the great stories in the next few decades, reaching the renown it received several hundred years ago. 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.
This Saint Joseph Lieu Dit Blanc is comprised of fruit from the exceptional Lieu Dit vineyard previously owned by Domaine J. L. Grippat (purchased in 2000). Vines average in age from 20 up to 75 years, and are planted on steep slopes of Gneiss with granite. The white grapes are more specifically planted to 95% Marsanne and 5% Roussanne.
How Guigal came to own these vineyards needs its own chapter, but we will try to summarize. In short, the Guigals for years wanted to purchase land in Hermitage. Jean-Louis Grippat, considered the best producer in Saint Joseph at the time, had no heirs interested in taking over his family business, and told the Guigals he was going to sell his vineyards, including land he owned in Hermitage. The catch was that the sale was all or nothing; he would not parcel out his vineyard holdings.
Marcel and Philippe drove the 45 minutes down to Saint-Joseph from Côte-Rôtie, and somberly discussed in the car how they would have to explain to Jean-Louis that they were not interested. It was not something they could do over the phone, hence the drive. When they arrived, rather than sitting down for a discussion, Jean-Louis took them right to his Saint-Joseph vineyards. Though they live only 45 minutes north, the Guigals had never seen the region through the eyes of one of its top producers, and never walked vineyards of this quality. They fell in love, and made the purchase.
Fermentation is in stainless steel, with a slow pressing allowing the wine to stay on its skins. Aging is in a combination of new (50%) and second use (50%) barrels, all coopered by Guigal at Château d’Ampuis.
The 2021 vintage in the Rhône Valley is probably best known for the devastating April frosts that made the worldwide news. Unsettled Spring weather was followed by a cooler than usual Summer, dry but without the intense heat that marked the previous three vintages, and September brought some welcome rain. Ripening occurred late, and unevenly, but the extended growing season was something of a return to a ‘normal’ harvest schedule. The grapes had good concentration, healthy natural acidity and normal sugar levels.
Straw yellow with golden tints. Very complex nose with hazelnuts, yellow fruit and oak accents. Full-bodied attack, with fleshy fruit and a round palate. Balanced with complex aromas and the roundness characteristic of the best sites of the appellation.
For nearly 4 decades Guigal has used only environmentally sustainable methods of pest, disease and weed control. They work to conserve biological diversity, water resources, soils and ecosystems on their land. Packaging materials are recyclable or biodegradable. Lastly, they are committed to achieving a zero waste target.
Suggested Retail Price
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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.
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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.
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