Medium ruby color; raspberry, plum, spice on the nose; raspberry, plum, cherry, redcurrant, blueberry, blackberry, meat, black pepper, oak on the palate.
Dry; smooth, grainy tannins with balancing acidity. Classic Côtes du Rhône blend of 50% syrah, 40% grenache, 10% mourvèdre. Supple, medium-full body. Medium-long finish. Benefits from decanting, and mellows in glass after that. 14.5% ABV
This is E. Guigal’s entry level red with average production of four million bottles, so it is accessible and well priced. The wine spends 17 months in oak foudres—very large vats that can contain up to 8,000 gallons, thus significantly reducing oak influence. Foudres are common in Rhône winemaking. An 8,000-gallon foudres can produce more than 22,700 bottles (750 ml) of wine.
E. Guigal was founded in 1946 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 blindness—although Etienne regained some sight and participated in the winery until his death in 1988. Marcel’s wife, Bernadette joined the team in 1973, and today their son, Phillippe, is the winemaker working alongside his wife, Eve. Philippe speaks superb English and when interviewed provides precise and informative explanations of both Guigal, the northern Rhône, and wine in general. Worth a watch or listen—a Google search will give you numerous links. A link is included below.
Widely respected as a mega négciant, Guigal put Côte-Rôtie on the wine map in the 1980s by delivering consistent-to-superior quality wine. Until then, the region was something of a wine backwater, particularly because the the prices needed to make winemaking pay in the testing, highly sloped region. E. Guigal deserves a lot of the credit for the Côte-Rôtie and adjacent Crozes-Hermitage—source of this offering—quality ascendency. Three regions—Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage—are basically next to each other. Guigal bottlings are the benchmark pours for the entire region.
E. Guigal’s Côtes du Rhône offerings are similar to labeling California wines “Central Coast” or other fairly broad designation that means the grapes came from multiple growers over the region. These are the second-tier grapes, which does not mean they are bad. They are less expensive, perhaps a notch less quality—but a notch less quality in Côte-Rôtie and adjacent plots still means pretty good juice.
In 2017, Drinks International named E. Guigal the most-admired French wine brand. The judging criteria included: consistently improving quality; reflection of regional terroir and country of origin; marketing and packaging and broad global brand appeal. No small thing.
E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Red 2018 maintains Guigal’s reputation for consistent, delicious, serious wine at superb prices. Classic GSM—grenache, syrah, mourvèdre. Complex, elegant, velvety smooth, charming. Pair with beef dishes—grilled steak, barbecue beef; lamb; roast pig; wild game—venison, boar. Versatile. Can be enjoyed on its own with light snacks, charcuterie. Cheese—parmigiano reggiano, aged gouda, hard, aged cheddar, harvarti, swiss. $15-18