E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage 2015

Medium purple color; red and black fruits on generous nose; blueberry, sour cherry, plum, blackcurrant, blueberry, raspberry, meat, leather, pepper on the palate.

E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage 2015

Dry; medium-full body; silky but solid tannins; strong blackcurrant element and black olive; some acidity but not major element. Very restrained oak. Signature, balanced example of northern Rhône syrah in a standout vintage. Tight on pop-and-pour, be patient and decant, you will be rewarded. Some funky elements add interest, especially when joined by rich foods.

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, Philippe, is the winemaker working alongside his wife, Eve. Phillippe 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. One is included below.

Etienne Guigal

Widely respected as a mega négciant, Guigal put Côte-Rôtie on the wine map in the 1980s by delivering consistent-to-superior quality. 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.

Guigal website notes: “Guigal first produced a Crozes-Hermitage in 1999 after the acquisition of low-yielding, hillside vineyards. Since then they have continued to purchase similar quality vineyards, exclusively on hillsides, on soils that tend to limestone, clay silt and sandy gravel, with vine age averaging 35 years. The vineyards are grouped in the north of the appellation, specifically around the villages of Gervans, Mercurol, Larnage and Crozes-Hermitage itself.
Farming: The Guigal’s work with organic and sustainable growers and practices. Grape Variety: 100% Syrah

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 Crozes-Hermitage 2015 will be at its best paired with food; the blackcurrant and other syrah elements prevent this from being a delicious sipping wine, but greatly enhances its value as a wine to accompany a hearty meal. Decanting improves the wine’s personality. Superb value-for-price play, but that almost always is the case with an E. Guigal offering. This is Guigal’s entry-level Crozes-Hermitage, which makes this an even more significant achievement.

Pair with red meats cooked any way you can imagine, spareribs, braised beef, lamb, roast leg of lamb, barbecued and braised chicken, pork, grilled or seared tuna, hamburgers and sliders, venison and other wild game, grilled vegetables, hard cheeses such as gouda. Avoid shrimp, lobster, delicate dishes and sour dishes. $23-27

Guigal website

Wine Spectator video of Philippe Guigal

U.S. importer website

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