Tasting notes: I suspect the 2018 Côte Rôtie Brune Et Blonde will be up there with the top vintages of this cuvée, and it shows how strong 2018 was for Côte Rôtie. Beautiful cassis, vanilla bean, spring flowers, and subtle oak nuances give way to a full-bodied beauty that has both power and finesse. I love the tannin quality here, and while it’s going to be accessible in its youth, it’s also going to age gracefully on its purity and balance.
Producer: The impact and influence of the Guigal family across the Rhône Valley, France, and all the world of fine wine is so immense, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that it’s all happened so quickly. In a country with such a rich and deep wine history, the Guigal family’s story is only in its third generation. The more you learn about the family, the more astounding becomes their story. Their wines are the benchmarks for every Rhone appellation, and over the last thirty years they have become arguably the most lauded producer in the world. Year after year the Guigal family produces wines of exceptional quality that in all classes offer exceptional value. The Guigal firm is extraordinary in a number of dimensions. Primary is their decision that they will only purchase vineyards that are capable of producing truly great wines. Therefore despite their important production, they own only 150 acres, all in the Northern Rhône. They own overwhelmingly the finest collection of vineyards in Côte-Rôtie, the finest, carefully selected sites in both Condrieu and Saint Joseph, four exquisite parcels in Hermitage, and some of the finest vineyards in Crozes-Hermitage. These 150 acres are truly the finest collection of vineyards in the Northern Rhône, and serve as the source for their estate-bottled wines and the foundation for their Northern Rhône appellation wines.
Vineyard and Winemaking: Guigal is synonymous with the Côte-Rôtie area, for bringing this great wine region to prominence, and for owning three times as much land as next largest land-owner, vinifiying 1/3 of the total appellation, and unquestionably holding the finest sites in this tiny, special area. Guigal’s vinfication is singular in the world of wine, and allows their great raw materials to flourish in the bottle. Their vinification approach actually harkens back to tradition in the Rhône Valley, with long aging, which integrates tannins and flavors and creates wines of great complexity and refinement. Because of their superior fruit, the Guigals do not make “simple” wines – these wines demand time to come together. All wines undergo natural yeast fermentation, and intervention is at a bare minimum, with no fining or filtration. The top Guigal wines undergo famously long maturation period in barrel, up to three and a half years, but even parcels of old-vine Syrah for their Côtes du Rhône are aged in foudres for six months, completely atypical for the Côtes du Rhône category. The Guigals are so exacting about the aging process that, finding inconsistent barrels from even the best tonnelleries, they make every barrel used in their winery themselves. Every day, five barrels are produced by hand by their single cooper at the Chateau d’Ampuis; they are the only winery in the Rhône Valley with their own cooperage, and one of the only in France.
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