2016 Guigal Condrieu
Wine Details for 2016 Guigal Condrieu
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: Rhone wines come from southern France, where a wide variety of grapes are cultivated. Some of the most commonly used varietals within this region are Syrah, Grenache Noir, Carignan, and Cinsaut for red wines, while white blends are typically based on Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, Carignan Blanc, Grenache Blanc and others.
: Northern Rhone is home to some of the most hedonistic wines in the world, which can be greatly credited to the mighty Syrah grape. However, the white grapes of the region produce wines just as dizzyingly spectacular and pleasure-inducing as the reds. They may be overshadowed and overlooked, but not to be underestimated. One such grape is Viognier, which hails from, arguably, the Northern Rhone’s most distinctive wine appellation, Condrieu.
The appellation of Condrieu was officially created in 1940; it has since been exclusively devoted to the Viognier grape. However, the cradle of Viognier had enjoyed the presence of this mighty white for many centuries prior to its formation. The first historical reference of Viognier was mentioned in the same breath as the Condrieu region in 1781, in Barthelemy Faujas de Saint-Fonds’ Histoire Naturelle de la Province de Dauphine, in which it was written as “Vionnier.” It is likely much older and is speculated to have arrived to France during the time of the ancient Romans. Nonetheless, the varietal enjoyed great fame and success in Northern Rhone up until middle of the 20th century when it nearly faced extinction. With only 8 hectares remaining in the region (and the world) Viognier was slowly revived by devotees and advocates of the varietal and its fortunes have been reversed with greater regional, national and international plantings.
Since its renaissance in the 1970s, the Viognier grape and the wines of Condrieu have gained increasing popularity among consumers and growers alike. Today, Viognier represents nearly 5,500 hectares of vines in France. It has traveled beyond its borders and is distributed among many localities in Northern Rhone, such as the neighboring hillsides of Chateau Grillet, Ampuis and Cote Rotie. It is also gaining traction for its success in Southern Rhone and the Languedoc. Some successful plantings have taken root in the soils of South Africa, Australia and California; however, the grape is fussy and needs great care and attention for it to prosper.
Viognier is known to be unforgiving and difficult to manage in the vineyards; it is hard to cultivate and not naturally inclined to producing healthy, reliable yields. The thick-skinned, white and amber colored grapes are mid to late ripening and have naturally low acidity which require a great deal of sunshine to ripen properly. It is quite sensitive to heat; too much direct sunlight can yield overblown, hotly alcoholic wines which lack the grape’s true characteristics. Despite its difficulties, the grape reaches its true zenith in the hilly terrain and terroir of Condrieu, which is comprised of limestone, mica, schist and granite soils.
The wines produced from Viognier are deep golden in color, with an unmistakable, heady aroma of apricots, peaches and honeysuckle. Some wines take on herbal notes of chamomile, lavender, thyme and pine, depending on the location in which it is cultivated. When Viognier is crafted into sweeter styles, the hallmark aromas are softened and infiltrated by honeyed notes. On the palate the wines can range from light and spritzy to the oaked versions of rich and creamy flavor and texture, with a highly viscous mouth-feel.
Viognier is king of Condrieu, its stronghold; it has greatly influence winemaking in the Rhone Valley and is now being internationally cultivated. It may still need an introduction to a majority of consumers; though, pleasure seekers are probably well aware of the grape’s hedonistic qualities. Viognier has come back from the brink of extinction and today is considered to be one of the most distinctive, seductive and unforgettable varieties in the world.
: Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.
For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.
France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.
France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.
: 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.
: 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.
Wine Spectator | 94 WS
(one-third new oak) Pale green-hued gold. Powerful, mineral-tinged orchard fruit, melon and floral aromas are sharpened by notes of ginger and lemon zest. Concentrated pear, Meyer lemon and violet pastille flavors show a suave blend of richness and delicacy thanks to a spine of juicy acidity and a chalky mineral nuance. Closes minerally, taut and quite long, leaving a sexy floral note behind.
Vinous Media | 93 VM
Starting with the 2016 Condrieu, it offers a light gold color and fresh, straight, lively notes of citrus, tangerine, and crushed rock. Beautifully pure, it lacks the density and concentration of the 2015 yet shines for it classic style, purity, and terrific drinkability.
Jeb Dunnuck | 92 JD
Lush and generous, this is textbook Condrieu from the appellation’s largest producer. Subtle ginger notes add an exotic edge to the ripe apricot, mango and lychee flavors, then persist on the long finish. Drink now–2018.
Wine Enthusiast | 92 WE
Guigal now bottles approximately 40% of the appellation’s total production, so it’s fortunate that the 2016 Condrieu is a fine ambassador for the region. One-third of this bottling sees new oak, while the rest goes into stainless steel. Some may quibble with the oak in an entry-level bottling, but I don’t find it excessive. The wine remains floral and fresh, with apricot and melon flavors that finish with modest spice notes and on a silky textural note. Drink it young.
Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 90 RP