E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2016

Medium gold-yellow color; honeysuckle, white flowers, peach, kiwi on the nose; peach, honeysuckle, tangerine, pear, lemon, grapefruit on the palate.

E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2016

Great freshness; medium body; Côte-Rôtie wines are lighter and sharper than their rival and adjacent Hermitage. Good acidity, minerality. No oak influence—100% stainless steel. Elegant, rounded, balanced; excellent texture with slight oiliness, especially on the finish after some air exposure. Delicious fruit gives illusion of sweetness. Yet another nice drinker and great value from E. Giugal. Blend of 60% viognier, 15% roussanne, 10% marsanne, 8% clairette, 5% bourboulenc, 2% white grenache. The exact percentages change somewhat each vintage, but viognier always is the lead grape. Rich, satisfying finish; 13.5% ABV.

E. Guigal was founded by Etienne Guigal in Ampuis, the village in the heart of the Côte-Rôtie appellation in the northern Rhône, a place where wine grapes have been grown for some 2,400 years. Etienne’s son, Marcel, took over management of the operation in 1961 when Etienne suddenly was struck with total blindness. Marcel’s wife, Bernadette joined the team in 1973, and today their son, Phillipe, is the winemaker working alongside his wife, Eve.

Etienne Guigal

In 1995, E. Guigal acquired the famed Château d’Ampuis, a landmark in the Côte-Rôtie. It houses the business offices today while wine making and cellaring remain in the village of Ampuis. All of this is in the very heart of the Côte-Rôtie region of the northern Rhône.

Côte-Rôtie vineyards are among the steepest in the world, sometimes reaching 60% slopes; only some vineyards in Germany’s Mosel Valley rival them in difficulty. Grapes must be harvest by hand; pulley systems are used by the pickers to both stand on the granite hillsides and to deliver the grapes. The hillsides face southeast and are, indeed, “roasted” in summer. Côte-Rôtie means “roasted slope” in French.

While the sun roasts the slope during the day, chilly Mistral winds (cold winds from the north and northwest that can reach 55-plus mph) drop temperatures significantly at night, a great formula for wine excellence. The region escaped world-wide attention until E. Guigal put it on the map in the 1980s by the sheer quality and value of its wines. When you think Côte-Rôtie, you think E. Guigal, a world-renowned operation.

While only 2% of Rhône wine production is white grapes, 25% of E. Guigal production is white, and they are masters at white—and reds and rosé, too, for that matter. They put particular emphasis on developing viognier for its freshness and complex aromatics. Critics believe E. Guigal has the deepest appreciation of viognier of any producer in the world. The vines that produce the various grapes for this effort are in various soils, primarily sedimentary, limestone, and granite. The vines average 25 years of age. Yields are held to as low as 1.8 tons per acre—which is lower than most Grand Cru Bordeaux, which makes the price point for this white winner all the more amazing. Never hesitate to buy an E. Guigal effort.

E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2016 is easy drinker with all the quality you expect from E. Guigal, who continues to produce fantastic wines at astonishing prices for the quality. Stone fruits and citrus play well together amid the exotic aromas led by viognier. This white will work wonders with starter courses of seafood and shellfish. It also will pair with roasted or grilled chicken; orange chicken; lamb; pork chop with apricot sauce; very well with Asian fusion and curries; vegetable salads; range of cheeses—Comté, baked brie with apricots, gruyere. $12-14

Guigal website

Very good Wine Spectator video of Philippe Guigal describing Guigal land

U.S. importer website

Marcel and Phillippe Guigal
Bernadette and Eve Guigal
Château d’Ampuis—E. Guigal headquarters
E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie vineyard
E. Guigal barrel room
E. Guigal tasting room