E. Guigal Saint-Joseph Rouge 2015

Medium purple color; red fruits with hint of oak on the nose; plum, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, touches of peppercorn, leather, tobacco leaf, minerality on the palate.

E. Guigal Saint-Joseph Rouge 2015

Dry; full body, concentrated fruit, blackcurrant on the mid-palate; dusty tannins and somewhat disjointed on pop-and-pour but comes around very nicely after decanting, delivering complexity, depth, and sweeter appeal. Decanting/aeration strongly recommended; this also is strong candidate for cellaring for the next 10 years or so. Guigal believes Saint-Joseph has potential to be more supple and gentler than their more famous Côte Rôtie and Hermitage offerings. We shall see because their other efforts have been outstanding for a long time. What we do know is Guigal knows how to make superb Rhône wines.

Made with 100% syrah grapes from Saint Joseph district on the western bank of the Rhône. The 30-mile district extends from the southern part of Condrieu, through and around the town of Tournon, to the northern boundary of Cornas, some 2,500 acres, almost all planted in syrah. Guigal only works in the southern area of Saint Joseph on intensely sloped hillsides around Tournon and south to Mauves. Fermentation occurs in stainless steel, followed by two years in second-use oak barrels.

Marcel and Phillippe Guigal

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, Philipe, is the winemaker working alongside his wife, Eve. Philipe 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.

In 1995, E. Guigal acquired the famed Château d’Ampuis, a landmark in the Côte-Rôtie. The château houses the business offices today while wine making and cellaring remain in the village of Ampuis where the company began.

E. 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 quality ascendency. Three regions—Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage—are basically next to each other. 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. Now they are accomplishing the same magic in Saint-Joseph in the southernmost reach of the Northern Rhône, particularly by focusing on the difficult, extremely sloped vineyards that hold the most promise for reputation rise in the region.

E. Guigal Saint-Joseph Rouge 2015 is another emerging winner from E. Guigal, the wine magicians of the northern Rhône. Concentrated, ripe, still a bit unruly at age three, but decanting evokes its better points and several more years of bottle age will continue to bring this quality syrah around. Pair with red meats cooked about 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. $33

E. Guigal website

U.S. importer website

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