2009 Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne

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Wine Critic Reviews for 2009 Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne

I’ve been lucky to have drunk close to a case of the 2009 Côte Rôtie La Landonne, and if there’s a more perfect Syrah out there, I don’t know of it. Revealing a vivid ruby/purple color, it delivers a spectacular bouquet of crème de cassis, smoked meats, graphite, spring flowers, crushed rocks, and hints of bacon fat. Possessing full-bodied richness, a colossal, massive core of fruit, ample polished tannins, and perfectly integrated oak, it’s a thrill a minute due to the opulence and sexiness of the vintage yet promises to last for another 30-40 years. It’s one of the greatest Syrahs ever produced.

Jeb Dunnuck | 100 JD
The 2009 Cote Rotie La Landonne is a killer wine. An extravagant bouquet of black truffles, roasted meats, licorice, ground pepper, blackberries, scorched earth and camphor soars from this muscular, dense, over-the-top, serious, masculine La Landonne. Built like Arnold Schwarzenegger was two decades ago, this enormously concentrated bodybuilder of a wine should hit its prime in a decade, and last 40-50 years. This is no trivial boast as the debut vintage of La Landonne, the 1978, is just reaching full maturity at age 34.

The Guigal family may be the modern world’s greatest testament to a family-run winery with impeccably high standards, integrity and an uncompromising vision of the future. They continue to push the envelope of quality to greater and greater heights. Marcel Guigal learned it all from his father, Etienne, a legend in the Northern Rhone. Over my three decade plus career, it has been a noteworthy story to watch Marcel’s son, Philippe, take full responsibility for the future direction of this incredible enterprise, if not empire. I have almost unlimited admiration for the Guigals and their ability to produce millions of bottles of inexpensive Cotes du Rhones that are among the finest of the entire Rhone Valley, as well as their portfolio of exquisite whites, reds and roses from the most prestigious appellations in the Rhone. After more than three decades of tasting here, I never cease to be amazed by what they accomplish. I have said this many, many times, but it bears repeating – the magic of the Guigals is not only due to having some extraordinary vineyards in St.-Joseph, Hermitage, Cote Rotie and Condrieu, but also the ability to pay the highest price for purchased grapes and/or wine from which they fashion remarkable blends. The importance of a wine’s upbringing (or, as the French call it, elevage) is the key to understanding the entire Guigal locomotive. No one does it better; no one has done it longer; and no one seems to have the Midas touch for putting the wines in the bottle at precisely the right moment to capture the essence of a wine before it begins to fade or lose its vibrancy. This may sound easy, but to date, no one comes remotely close to what the Guigals consistently do across all fields of play. About a decade ago, Guigal’s white wines began to take on an amazing level of quality and the family continues to augment and increase that quality. Their Cotes du Rhone Blanc, usually a blend of two-thirds Viognier and the rest Clairette and Bourboulenc, has become a reference point for what amazing value and high quality can be achieved in a completely naked, expressive wine. Guigal produces approximately 40% of all the Condrieu made, and he continues to add some exquisite terroirs to his portfolio. For example, he recently bought the vineyard owned by Alain Parent and Gerard Depardieu, Lys de Volant. Guigal can produce two cuvees of white Hermitage, their regular blend of 90% Marsanne and 10% Roussanne, and, in exceptional vintages, a luxury cuvee called Ex-Voto, which is approximately 80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne. It spends more time in small new oak than the regular cuvee. From the Northern Rhone, Guigal’s finest values are his Crozes-Hermitage and his lower level cuvees of St.-Joseph, all of which are 100% Syrah. The Crozes-Hermitage comes from hillside vineyards and the St.-Joseph comes from hillsides with decomposed granite soils that are commonplace in the northern half of that sprawling appellation. With the purchase of the estates of Jean-Louis Grippat as well as the holdings of De Vallouit, Guigal increased his estate vineyards in Hermitage. A basic Hermitage cuvee is produced each year, and in the top vintages, a luxury cuvee called Ex-Voto is made. Guigal now owns vineyards in the famed lieux-dits of Les Bessards, Dionnieres, l’Ermite and Le Meal. The regular Hermitage is generally aged for up to three years in small oak casks, about 50% new. When declared, the Ex-Voto is given the same 42 months in 100% new French oak as his three single vineyard Cote Roties (La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque). The Ex-Voto is a blend of fruit from Les Bessards (40%), Les Greffieux (40%) and Les Murets (20%). Guigal produces approximately 300,000 bottles each year of his Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde. We started with the 2008, probably the second worst vintage in the Northern Rhone (2002 being the worst in the last decade). Not a single vineyard wine, but a prodigious Cote Rotie is Guigal’s Cote Rotie Chateau d’Ampuis. Marcel Guigal’s son, Philippe, lives at this estate with his wife and children, and this is also where they cooper their wood barrels made from staves that are air-dried a minimum of three years. This cuvee is always a blend of some of the finest parcels on the hillsides of Cote Rotie, including La Garde, Le Clos, Grande-Plantee, Pommiere, Pavillon, Le Moulin and La Viria. It is aged 38 months in 100% new French oak, and around 2,000 cases are produced in most vintages. The three single vineyard Cote Roties are consistently among the world’s greatest wines. I often find La Mouline to be a so-called “desert island” wine as it was in vintages such as 1978, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2009. La Mouline is made from the oldest vines and is vinified differently than the other single vineyard cuvees, utilizing pump-over techniques as opposed to punching down (La Turque) or immersed cap (La Landonne). To reiterate, the Cote Rotie La Turque comes from the Cote Brune and its upbringing is the same as La Mouline’s, aged 42 months in 100% new French oak, co-fermented with 5-7% Viognier, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. It comes from younger vines as the first vintage was 1985 and that remarkable wine was made from 3-year-old vines (which puts a kink in the French myth that old vines are always the best). As I previously indicated, La Turque is vinified by punching down as opposed to pumping over or the immersed cap fermentation of La Landonne. The third of these prodigious Cote Roties, La Landonne, comes from the Cote Brune. Unlike its siblings, it is 100% Syrah that receives the same upbringing, 42 months in 100% new French oak and bottling with no fining or filtration. The other luxury cuvee, although not a single vineyard wine, is the Hermitage Ex-Voto, which is aged 42 months in 100% new oak and bottled unfined and unfiltered. It is always fashioned from Les Bessards (40%), Les Greffieux (40%), Les Murets (10%) and l’Ermite (10%). The Gigondas and Chateauneuf du Pape produced by Guigal are often excellent, even outstanding wines that sell for a fraction of the price asked for his luxury cuvees of Cote Rotie, Hermitage, Condrieu and St.-Joseph. Guigal’s Gigondas spends around 24-25 months in wood foudres, and includes a great deal of Mourvedre in the blend. The Chateauneuf du Pape, which comes from purchased wine, is aged two years in foudre prior to release. Guigal normally includes a minimum of 10% Mourvedre in the blend, with the balance old vine Grenache. As I have said many times, one of these days the Guigals will purchase a famous estate in Chateauneuf du Pape because Marcel’s father, Etienne, had always said the three greatest appellations of the Rhone Valley were Cote Rotie, Hermitage and Chateauneuf du Pape (few people would disagree).

Robert Parker | 100 RP
This delivers a stunningly ripe, pure, polished bolt of plum confiture, along with notes of anise, mocha, blueberry coulis, Black Forest cake and espresso. The finish sports admirable grip for this ripe-styled vintage, with a grounding rod of iron buried deeply. There's fruit and muscle now, with minerality to burn while this is cellared. Best from 2015 through 2040. 1,000 cases made.

Wine Spectator | 99 WS
Glass-staining purple. Explosive aromas of dark berries, fresh violet and anise, with a hint of smokiness in the background. Sappy and incisive on the palate, offering deeply pitched, spice-tinged cassis and bitter cherry flavors accented by bitter herbs. Closes extremely long, with firm tannic grip and alluring sweetness, leaving a zesty mineral note behind. Showing a surprising degree of elegance for the vintage and for this bottling, which is usually the most forbidding of Guigal's big-gun Cote-Roties.

Vinous Media | 96 VM

Wine Details on 2009 Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne

More Information
Producer E. Guigal: With perhaps more 100 point professional ratings than any other producer in the world of wine, the impact and influence of the Guigal family across the Rhone Valley is incredulous. The offerings from this superb producer are so impressive that it is never a surprise when a new vintage is released and receives high ratings, high praise and along with it a high level of pursuit by collectors and enthusiasts. His wines have become the benchmarks for the Rhone appellation and over the past thirty years Guigal has become arguably the most lauded producer in the world. Year after year wines of exceptional quality come to fruition through unparalleled work ethic and dedication to excellence that has allowed Guigal wines to rise to the pinnacle of the wine world.

This amazing story begins in the early 1930’s when Etienne Guigal moved to Ampuis and secured a job in the vineyards of the largest winery in the Rhone. Over the course of 15 years he elevated his position from pruning vines to cellar master. In 1946 he left to start his own firm, E. Guigal; the inception of what would become one of the most influential and successful firms in the world.

In 1961 Etienne was struck with total blindness and his son Marcel returned home to help oversee operations of the family business. Marcel has led the firm ever since and his tremendous work ethic and dedication to quality have lifted the Guigal wines to the status that they remain today. Marcel’s efforts were highly recognized and lauded, bringing attention to Cote-Rotie and other appellations throughout the Rhone.

Today, Marcel’s son Philippe serves as Director and Oenologist at Guigal and with his father, carries on the tradition of leadership in the Rhone Valley and of uncompromising excellence. The family has purchased only the vineyards that are capable of producing truly great wines. They own 150 acres in Northern Rhone, and overwhelmingly the finest collection of vineyards in Cote-Rotie. The carefully selected sites serve as the source for their estate-bottled wines and the foundation for their wine portfolio. The parcels include in addition to Cote-Rotie; Condrieu, Saint Joseph, four plots in Hermitage and some of the finest in Crozes-Hermitage.

The Guigal family is undeterred by the task it must perform on the steeply sloped, terraced vineyards and work tirelessly to tend to their precious vines that have long been vital to the success of the estate. They hold a firm belief in the soils, expositions and meso-climates of each site and methodically re-build vineyards today that won’t be planted for years to come due to their commitment to the long-term success of Guigal wines.

Guigal produces a slew of wines from many different Rhone varietals including Syrah and Grenache, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier. Cote-Rotie, Condrieu, Saint Joseph, Hermitage, and Crozes-Hermitage all hail from Northern Rhone. They have expanded their reach to Southern Rhone and have developed a list of Chateauneuf-Du-Papes and Cotes-Du-Rhone complimenting the Guigal portfolio.

Every wine serves as a testament to the diligent winemaking skills of the family, but three mythical wines have risen to a standard that is surpassed by no other – The “La La’s” as they are so fondly recognized. Guigal’s single vineyard Syrah of La Mouline, La Turque, and La Landonne have gained traction on the wine market for their quality, prestige and constant 100-point ratings. They have risen to elite status and are highly coveted by many. La Mouline and La Turque enjoy the title of Monopole, while La Landonne is merely a single vineyard and though it is a small plot is shared with a neighboring producer. Only 4,000 bottles of La Turque are bottled annually, so that gives an idea of the exclusivity of these exquisite and important components to the range of wines Guigal has to offer.

Guigal wines are sexy, exotic and demand the attention of serious wine collectors. It would be difficult to define the quality and characteristics of each Guigal wine; however, they come with a guarantee to please, with a taste for any palate. This firm has risen to fame in a relatively short period of time, but over the span of three generations, nothing short of brilliance is exemplified in each bottling.
Region Rhone: While the Northern Rhone produces only about 5% of all wine coming out of the Rhone Valley, the quality of these bottles is not to be underestimated. The terroir in this region is heavenly for growing Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne or Rousanne - the only permitted grapes in the AOC. Picture this - the Rhone flows through the valley like an azure thread piercing the landscape, a reflection of the dreamy skies hovering above the vineyards, ready to produce rainfall at a moment's notice. The rocky soil of the steep, almost surreal hillsides provides a bountiful feast for the grapevine roots. The flavors and texture of Northern Rhone wines tell you everything you need to know as soon as your lips touch the elixir, like a whisper in the vigorous valley winds

As per the Southern Rhone wine, it is like taking a plunge into a whirlpool of juicy flavor. Every sip explodes forward like a crashing tsunami, bathing your tastebuds in delicious aromas of prune, chocolate, grass, and black fruit. The wines are so compelling that it can be hard to drink them casually at a social event without getting lost in their intricate textures and emotional depths. Let's set sail together, and drink deep from these luxurious bottles with our friends and loved ones.
Subregion Northern Rhone
Appellation Cote Rotie
Climat/Vineyard La Landonne
Cru Grand Crus
Country France: Words fail us when trying to adequately portray France's place in the world of wine. It's downright impossible to imagine what wine would feel and taste like had it not been for France's many, many viticultural pioneers. Fine wine is the blood of France's vigorously beating heart, and it finds itself in many aspects of French culture. With a viticultural history that dates all the way back to the 6th century BC, France now enjoys its position as the most famous and reputable wine region on the planet. If you have a burning passion for masterfully crafted, mouth-watering, mind-expanding wines, then regular visits to France are probably already in your schedule, and for a good reason.
Type of Wine Cote Rotie: The Cote-Rotie will have you feeling a distinct blend of smoked meat flavors and floral notes that bring it all to life, like a colorful salad in a feast. Expect to be greeted by subtle yet delicious hints of leather, plum, white pepper or black pepper as well, depending on the individual bottle.
Varietal Shiraz/Syrah: Something magical occurred when two ancient French grapes procreated and the varietal of Syrah entered the world of winegrowing. The exact time period of its inception is still undetermined; however, the origin of Syrah’s parentage confirms it was birthed in the Rhone Valley. DNA testing performed by UC Davis has indicated that Syrah is the progeny of the varietals Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche, both of Rhone origin. Syrah dominates its native homeland of Northern Rhone and has become one of the most popular grape varietals in the world.

Syrah, Shiraz and Petite Sirah have often been confused and misunderstood, some consumers believing them to all be the same grape, while others thinking the opposite. Petite Sirah is actually the offspring of Syrah and Peloursin and though related, is an entirely different grape variety. Its official name is Durif, for the name of the French nurseryman who first propagated the varietal in the 1880s; it is called Petite Sirah in California (due to the resemblance of Syrah, but smaller berries). Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape. Producers in Australia have been labelling Syrah as “Shiraz” since James Busby first introduced the varietal to the continent. The Scottish viticulturist brought Syrah from France to Australia in the middle of the 18th century and labelled the cuttings as “Sycras” and “Ciras,” which may have led to the naming. Most California vintners label their bottlings as Syrah and of course in French style and tradition, the name of the village or area the grape is cultivated dictates the label name.

The Syrah grape is at home in Northern Rhone where the climate is cool and the terroir is filled with gravel, schist, limestone, iron, granite and sandy soils. It thrives on rocky, hilly terrain with a southern exposure, due to its need for sunlight. Syrah is a very vigorous grape with a spreading growth habit. The berries are small to medium oval shaped blue-black and tend to shrivel when ripe.

Today, Syrah is one of the most popular and widely planted grape varietals in the world, covering almost 190,000 hectares across the earth’s surface. It is the only red grape variety permitted by AOC regulations in the appellations of Hermitage and Cote-Rotie, where it has breathed life into some of the most tremendous wines on the planet. Languedoc-Roussilon has the most surface area planted in France with 43,200 hectares dedicated to Syrah. The varietal is used for blending in Southern Rhone, Provence and even Bordeaux. Syrah has spread worldwide from Australia to California and South Africa to Spain creating the ‘New World’ hype of the varietal. Since the 1990’s, Syrah winegrowing and production has increased exponentially; for example, in 1958 there were a mere 2,000 hectares planted in France. By 2005 that number increased to over 68,000 hectares and today it is well over 70,000. The same holds true for California, Australia and other ‘New World’ producers that have jumped “all in.” World-wide there are approximately 190,000 hectares of Syrah currently being cultivated.

The allure of Syrah has taken the world by storm, but is important to note where the hype began. Long before Syrah was being stamped with ‘New World’ or of ‘cult status,’ the tremendous quality of Hermitage was being written about in Thomas Jefferson’s diary. Today, the grape variety can be grown, fashioned, named and enjoyed in a myriad of ways, but the quality of Syrah grape remains the same – incredible.

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