2009 Guigal Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc

Year: 2009
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 89
Vinous Media: 88
White Wine
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"The 2009 Cotes du Rhone Blanc, which is usually 50% Viognier and the rest a blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Clairette and Bourboulenc aged in tank, is just lovely. Fresh honeyed notes with some tropical fruits and other assorted citrus all jump from the glass of this medium-bodied, crisp, fresh wine, which over-delivers in personality, flavor and complexity. Drink it over the next 1-2 years.

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)

"($17; 55% viognier, 15% marsanne, 13% roussanne and the rest clairette, bourboulenc and grenache blanc) Pale yellow. Melon, nectarine and honeysuckle on the nose, with notes of anise and white pepper adding complexity. Gains sweetness with air and offers pliant honeydew and orchard fruit flavors, with a touch of spice on the back half. I like this wine's complexity and finishing sappiness" (IWC)

Winery Notes:
Composed of 55% Viognier, 20% Roussanne, 10% Marsanne, 10% Clairette, and 5% Bourboulenc, the wine is fermented entirely in stainless steel tanks. It has a lovely stone fruit freshness, texture, and floral notes, balanced by a cool minerality, medium body, and mouthwatering, lingering acidity.