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.
Composed of old-vine Grenache (70%), Mourvèdre (15%), Syrah (10%), and the balance of traditional grapes of the appellation. The vines average 50 years of age and are planted on the unique rocky alluvial (the famous “galets”) and red clay soils of the area.
The Guigals age their wine far longer than almost anyone in the appellation, allowing it to develop complexity of flavor and texture, and making for an outstanding drinking experience on release. The wine undergoes a traditional vinification, temperature controlled fermentation and maceration for nearly 3 weeks. The blended wines spend 3 years in large oak foudres followed by extended bottle aging.
A deep, dark and dense red color. The nose is full of spice and red berries – even notes of jam. On the palate, the wine is complex and powerful, with round tannins and notes of ripe plum, peppery herbs and cherry stone. Overall, an ample, rich wine that manages to maintain purity.
The impact and influence of the Guigal family across the Rhône Valley, France, and all the world of fine wine is so immense, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that it’s all happened so quickly. In a country with such a rich and deep wine history, the Guigal family’s story is only in its third generation. The remarkable story begins with Etienne Guigal, a remarkably independent and both intellectually and physically capable man. He was the youngest child in his family, but as the most resilient he was sent off on his own at a very young age when his family could no longer afford to care for him. He came to Ampuis, half an hour south of the city of Lyon and the home of Cote-Rotie, to pick apricots. In the early 1930s his brother helped Etienne, still only 14 years of age, secure a job in the vineyards at the largest winery in the Rhône. Etienne started pruning in the vineyards and rose to cellar master over the course of 15 years, before eventually leaving just after the war in 1946 to start his own firm, E. Guigal. Etienne’s son Marcel became involved very early in the business when in 1961 he was forced to rush back from school because his father was suddenly struck with total blindness. Marcel has led the firm since, and his unparalleled work ethic and dedication to quality have lifted the Guigal wines to the pinnacle of the wine world, and the Guigal domaine to its status as the leading winery from the Rhône Valley. In the process Marcel brought attention to Côte-Rôtie and other appellations throughout the Rhône that were in danger of being lost in the annals of wine history, despite the region’s distinguished past of 2,500 years as a superior wine-producing area, and the cradle of wine civilization in France. The Guigal firm is extraordinary in a number of dimensions. Primary amongst them is that they will only purchase vineyards that are capable of producing truly great wines. Therefore despite their important production, they own only 150 acres, all in the Northern Rhône. They own overwhelmingly the finest collection of vineyards in Côte-Rôtie, the finest, carefully selected sites in both Condrieu and Saint Joseph, four exquisite parcels in Hermitage, and some of the finest vineyards in Crozes-Hermitage. These 150 acres are truly the finest collection of vineyards in the Northern Rhône, and serve as the source for their estate-bottled wines and the foundation for their Northern Rhône appellation wines. The more you learn about the Guigal family, the more astounding becomes their story. Their wines are the benchmarks for every Rhône appellation, and over the last thirty years they have become arguably the most lauded producer in the world. Year after year the Guigal family produces wines of exceptional quality that in all classes offer exceptional value.
JOE CZERWINSKI - WINE ADVOCATE
Consumers who want a bit more oomph than the 2014 offers will want to seek out Guigal's 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape, which is a ripe, full-bodied example of the appellation. Bottled just a week before I tasted it, it was somewhat closed on the nose but is wonderfully velvety and rich, with plenty of dark fruit flavors, accented by dried spices on the long finish.
RICHARD HEMMING MW - JANCISROBINSON.COM
Meaty, peppery, dark chocolate and juicy red fruit – a deliciously fragrant example which reveals Guigal's northern roots, with a sense of delicacy and lift too often missing from Châteauneuf. 17 / 20 Points