2007 Guigal Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge

Year: 2007
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 87
Wine Advocate: 90
Red Wine
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"Mature, with a rustic edge, this shows a lightly mulled character to its the plum and currant fruit, with coffee and roasted mesquite notes on the finish. Drink now. 220,000 cases made." (WS)

"The 2007 Cotes du Rhone has finally been released, and Guigal has made his finest Cotes du Rhone to date, all from purchased juice. He and his son told me they go through thousands of samples in order to come up with this cuvee, which is based on 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre, all aged in tank. A deep ruby/purple wine with lots of cassis, kirsch, pepper, and even an intriguing floral note, the wine is medium to full-bodied , silky smooth, and a truly delicious, hedonistic and intellectually satisfying wine that is a remarkable bargain. It should drink well for 2-4 years, as these wines can actually last.

While the Guigal name is synonymous with extraordinary wines from Cote Rotie, Condrieu, Hermitage, St.-Joseph, and Crozes-Hermitage, the Guigal family have always had a love affair with the southern Rhone, especially Chateauneuf du Pape. I expect them to buy an estate in that appellation, but in the meantime they continue to pay top dollar for some of the best juice to fashion their negociant cuvees. The quality of these wines continues to go up, which is remarkable given Guigal's fame in addition to the gigantic production of his red Cotes du Rhone, which has now hit 3.5 million bottles with the 2007 - the best he has ever made. For starters, some whites and roses from Guigal merit serious attention. Everywhere in the southern Rhone, the rise in quality of white wines has been dramatic over the last decade or so, but Guigal, being a negociant, has really ratcheted up the level of his basic cuvees. In 2008, there was no Cotes du Rhone, Chateauneuf du Pape, or Gigondas produced. Given the long wood and tank aging of their top southern wines from Gigondas and Chateauneuf du Pape, I have included notes on wines that are just being released, such as the 2007, as well as the most recent release, the 2006s. These wines prove the brilliance of Guigal's elevage. Most people know that his single vineyard Cote Roties and his Hermitage Ex-Voto are kept for 42 months in new oak, an astonishingly long time that is now being emulated by some of the great Rhone Ranger producers such as John Alban at Alban Vineyards, Justin Smith at Saxum and Manfred Krankl at Sine Qua Non. As I have told Marcel Guigal during nearly every one of my visits to his estate over the past 30+ years, he should give lectures in oenology schools on the genius behind the upbringing (elevage) of his wines. It is remarkable. Time and time again I have seen light vintages that seem vegetal and disappointing become concentrated and taste far better through extended elevage. And most significantly, Guigal's wines always taste better in bottle than they do tasting from barrel!" (WA)