Saturday, August 22, 2009

Guigal Dinner

To my knowledge, Guigal is the only other wine company apart from Penfolds which covers a range of quality wines from $15 per bottle to $500 or so.
So to attend a wine dinner showcasing these wines is somewhat daunting, but it was a great experience.

Guigal, mainly known for Cote du Rhone, makes some serious white wines. We tasted four, two based on Marsanne, two based on Viognier. These are very different wines from what we are used to in Australia. The wines have lashings of new oak and are really made like red wines. Nothing overly reserved here. The wines were from the 07 and 06 vintages and clearly need more time to integrate the flavours. I preferred the Marsanne based wines, the 2007 St. Joseph Lieu dit Saint-Joseph Blanc and the 2006 Ermitage Ex-Voto Blanc. The latter is a $350 per bottle wine. The flavours are complex, with pear and apricot dominant. The wines are rich and creamy, tannic and have a long finish.

Then on to the main game, the reds. Overall, the quality of the wines was awesome. The key characteristics of the premium wines are elegant fruit, soft grained tannins and a long finish. The best wines were the 2005 Cote Rotie Chateau d'Ampuis, 2005 Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde (this is the 'standard' premium wine), 2005 Ermitage Ex-Voto (very strong, overpriced), 2006 Saint-Joseph Rouge Vignes de l'Hospice, 2006 Saint Joseph-Rouge 'Lieu dit Saint-Joseph'. Non of these wines reaches 14% alcohol, by the way.

Then the highlight of the evening, the La La wines. These are, next to Grange, the most highly regarded Shiraz based wines in the world. They are single vineyard, and winemaking techniques vary between them. We are drinking the fabulous 2005 vintage, all wines were rated 99 points by Wine Spectator (a bit of a joke, really).

La Mouline (on the left in the picture) is the feminine wine: mulberry and chocolate, very opulent, elegant, with soft tannins and a long finish - a very distinctive wine. La Landonne (middle in the picture) is the masculine wine: plum and blackberry, also elegant, but quite tannic and dry with a long finish. This is much better drunk in a few years time. La Turque is a more recent wine and sits in-between. It is a leaner wine, not as lush, and quite acidic, again with a long finish. The vote for the best wine was split between all three. I particularly enjoyed the first two, for very different reasons.

This tasting was a memorable one. I have tasted the range of Guigal wines before. This set was a step up from what I had experienced before, and the La La wines are very special, indeed.

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