2005 Guigal Cote-Rotie La Landonne

Year: 2005
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 96-98+
Vinous Media: 97-99
Red Wine
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"Another candidate for perfection is the 2005 Cote Rotie La Landonne. Its inky/blue/purple color is followed by a perfume of confit of duck, smoked meats, blackberries, espresso, and tapenade. Incredibly complex with superb concentration, amazing depth, full body, and huge tannins in the finish, it will not be ready to drink for 5-8 years; it should keep for 30-35 years.

As always, a tasting at Guigal is an opportunity to receive several years’ worth of wine education in one day (that’s how long it takes to go through all the bottles and barrels). Marcel Guigal is obviously a brilliant businessman, but most importantly, he understands vineyards, how to get maximum quality from them, and how to make wines, at all different price levels. From his Cotes du Rhones to Cote Roties, these wines are as good as one is likely to find. When I first visited Guigal nearly thirty years ago, this was a relatively small firm. Today, his may be the most successful wine operation in France. Guigal attributes his success to hard work and never being satisfied with the status quo. He pays the highest prices of any negociant for the fruit used to fashion his Cotes du Rhone as well as other negociant wines. He has also been extraordinarily adept at buying fabulous terroirs, as evidenced by his purchase of the De Vallouit properties in Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage as well as Grippat’s top-notch vineyard holdings in St.-Joseph. Along with the late Thomas Jefferson, Guigal has always believed that white Hermitage is France’s greatest white wine. With his recent acquisitions of superb vineyard sites, he is hell-bent on proving to the world that Jefferson was correct – that white Hermitage is an amazing as well as long-lived wine. In top vintages, two cuvees are produced, the regular offering (usually a blend of primarily Marsanne with a touch of Roussanne) and the luxury cuvee called Ex-Voto, which is generally 95% Marsanne and 5% Roussanne from two stunning vineyards. Eighty percent comes from Les Murets (regarded as one of the appellation’s finest white wine vineyards) and 20% from l’Ermite.Tasting through Guigal’s new and up-coming releases confirms his legendary consistency. He is the quintessential multitasker, fashioning inexpensive fine wines as well as super-luxurious, utterly profound reds and whites. When Guigal purchased the Grippat holdings, he received six acres of the Vignes de l’Hospice, a stunningly steep, photogenic vineyard at the top of the northern sector of St.-Joseph, looking down on the town of Tournon. These are the same decomposed granitic soils found across the river in Hermitage’s Les Bessards vineyard. Everything Guigal has produced from this vineyard has been as profound as St.-Joseph can be. In fact, his only competitor is Michel Chapoutier’s 500 or so cases of St.-Joseph Les Granits. Marcel’s talented son, Philippe, is taking over more and more of the business, and appears more than capable of filling the extraordinary shoes of his father, who I doubt will ever retire. I reviewed Guigal’s Cotes du Rhones and Chateauneuf du Papes in issue #173 (October, 2007), but he also continues to be an active buyer of high quality juice from Gigondas. He accomplishes this by tasting hundreds of samples, visiting 50-60 caves, and paying the highest price for his purchases. Guigal is unquestionably the most important producer of Cote Rotie. He buys grapes from nearly four dozen small growers, and supplements that from his own holdings. The single vineyard cuvees are excluded from this blend, but all his Cote Roties are vinified in his cellars. Guigal produces around 2,000 cases of Cote Rotie Chateau d’Ampuis, a cuvee he first made in 1995. About 7% Viognier is included in the blend, and the sources for the fruit are all fabulous sites from both the Cote Blonde and Cote Brune. According to Guigal, research in France’s National Archives prove that in its past, Chateau d’Ampuis produced Cote Rotie from these same sites" (WA)

"Glass-staining purple. A black hole on the nose, reluctantly offering up notes of dark berry, plum compote, licorice and roasted coffee. Spicier and fresher on the palate, with sweet, deeply concentrated red and dark berry flavors and a salty note of olive tapenade. Impressively dense and powerful wine with incredible finishing cling and persistence. One for the darkest corner of your cellar." (IWC)