Monday, October 17, 2005


The Rhone Valley is a region in southeast France that is known for its wineries, and primarily for the reds although some white and rose wines are made there as well. Connoisseurs generally talk about the Rhone as two sections - northern Rhone and Southern Rhone, with the North being well known for it's Syrah wines, and the South best known for Grenache.

Rhone wines offer an exceptional value for the price, and are considered very versatile. They go well with both casual food and intensely flavored dishes alike, as the Rhone wines are mild and low in tannins. They lack the distinct flavor of new oak that permeates many traditional Burgundys, and so they complement almost any meal.

The Guigal estate lies in the northern part of the Rhone Valley, in the ancient village of Ampuis. The vineyards here are over 2400 years old, and are characterized by small terraced walls, reminiscent of the Roman period. Eitenne Guigal founded the Guigal estate in 1946, and made over 67 vintages of Rhone wine over his lifetime.

Cote Rotie La Landonne

This is a wonderful Rhone Wine. Vintage 2000 is 100% Syrah grapes, and it carries the aromas of raw currant, leather and menthol. Guigal's Cote Roties Landonne has a good backbone and ages well. It carries good intensity in both flavor and color. Other excellent years include 1999 and 1998.

Hermitage Rouge

This famous wine is made from 100% Syrah grapes with the average age of the vines being 40 years. The 2000 Vintage is a deep ruby red with violet tinges. Guigal's Hermitage Rouge carries the delicate aromas of spices, red berries and oak, while on the palate, it is a powerful, tannic wine. It is an excellent match for red meats, small game, and cheese of all kinds. Other recommended vintages include 1999 and 1997.

Hermitage Blanc

This white has a good, spicy structure and a consistent yellow, strawlike color. Made rom 95% Marsanne and 5% Roussanne grapes, it is a lovely and rare blend. Guigal's Hermitage Blanc carries a complex flavor and aroma that includes the delicate oak from long ageing. Pair it with a spicy appetizer, fish, cheese, and anything garlic laden. Hermitage offers great balance for these choices. In addition to the 2000 vintage, try 1995 and 1999 for an excellent wine.

Chateauneuf du Pape

Guigal's 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape has been described as potentially the finest Chateauneuf Guigal has produced, with more power, richness and intensity that any previous vintage, although the wine produced in 2000, 1998,and 1995 were very highly regarded. Deep ruby hued, with exotic spices, and black pepper, it is full-bodied and lovely.

Cotes du Rhone

Guigal's Cotes du Rhone is available in red, white and rose. The red is 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 15% Mourvedre and other grapes. This wine is a deep, dark red. Full and round on the palate this full-bodied wine is rich and intensely aromatic. Exceptional vintages include 2000, 2002 and 2003.

Guigal's Cotes du Rhone rose is made primarily from Grenache and Cinsault grapes with just 5% each of Mourvedre and Syrah. Vintages 1999, 2000 and 2003 are excellent varieties with a clear, brilliant color. This elegant wine is fruity and round on the palate. With notes of raspberry and red currant, it complements fish and poultry beautifully.

Guigal's Cotes du Rhone blanc is an excellent wine value. Well rounded with strength and balance this golden-yellow wine is clear with a fruity flavor. The aroma is marked by apricot and white peach. Lovely. Recommended vintages include 1997, 2002 and 2003.