Writing about great wine is never a chore, but this week a very special treat as we delve into one of the great family wine companies of France – and one of the most sought after and important collections of wine you can find, anywhere. Words like “iconic” and “important” get tossed around pretty liberally these days, which is why I find myself at a loss for superlatives grand enough to convey the pedigree, substance, history, importance and utter deliciousness of the wines produced at E. Guigal.
Where to start?! The E. Guigal collection is the platinum standard in the production of Northern Rhône wines; these are must-buy wines for serious Syrah afficianados; no cellar or collection is complete without at least a few bottles from this storied line-up. In addition to this important collection of famous estate bottled Northern Rhône wines, the Guigal family produces exceedingly impressive value wines from several Southern Rhône villages, none punching further above its price than the Guigal Côtes du Rhône.
Made from a classic Southern Rhône blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre, this is a ripe, rustic and spicy red with rich red and black berry and fruit flavours, chunky tannins and hallmark notes of peppery spice and camp fire smoke. At less than $20, E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône is one of those rare reds that works well with casual comfort fare as well as finer more complex cuisine. The best food matches seem to straddle these culinary styles, like gourmet burgers, stews featuring red wine with beef or lamb, or grilled steaks, chops or pizza.
The best known wines of the Southern Rhône come from single Crus (or villages) like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas or Vacqueyras, whereas wines carrying the Côtes du Rhône designation are produced from grapes grown in vineyards across more than one of these sub-regions. When made by reputable and quality-minded producers like Guigal, wines carrying this somewhat “humbler” Côtes du Rhône designation can offer stunning value, selling for well under half the price of the “loftier” single village designated wines.
This family winery was originally founded by Etienne Guigal in 1946, establishing a home base in the village of Ampuis in the heart of the Côte Rôtie. As if this family history wasn’t impressive enough all on its own, the history of wine production in this region goes back more than 2,400 years before the arrival of Guigal family. While the family has purchased additional vineyards (and even other wineries) in the 6+ decades since its inception, the head office and heart of E. Guigal remains deeply rooted in the steep hillside vineyards and cellars in Côte Rôtie.
Producer: E. Guigal
Wine: Côtes du Rhône Rouge