I first bought this wine a few years ago in France while on holiday over Christmas and New Year. It was on special offer – around 6 Euros a bottle if I remember correctly – so I bought a case to tide us over for all our red wine drinking requirements. The thing I remember most about it is that it was an astonishingly good all-rounder – good on its own as an aperitif and good with all sorts of food be it hors d’ouevres or main course, snacks or cheese. In fact it even went well with chocolate dessert if I remember correctly but maybe I was not so discerning by that stage of the evening…
Founded in 1946 by Etienne Guigal in the famous village of Ampuis, home to the wines of the Cote-Rotie, the house very quickly established a reputation for quality wines. Marcel, Etienne’s son, took over the reigns in 1961 and oversaw the buy-out of another famous house, Vidal-Fleury, which is owned by them still today but keeps its original identity. The business is truly a family enterprise with three generations of the Guigal family being involved in running it. They own vineyards throughout the region in both the North (Cote Rotie, Condrieu, Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage) and South of the region (Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Tavel and Cotes du Rhone). Natural methods of combating parasites and disease are used which helps to ensure that the grapes cultivated fully express the complexity of the terroirs from which they come.
Like all Cotes du Rhone the 2006 is a blend of Syrah (50%), Grenache (40%) and Mourvedre. The wine is made in a style that suits early drinking although it can be laid down for a maximum of around 8 years. The average age of the vines from which the grapes come is 35 years so the flavours are concentrated and fully representative of the terroir. Traditional winemaking methods are used along with temperature controlled fermentation and long skin-soaking for maximum colour. The wine is matured in oak foudres for 18 months.
In the glass the wine is deep, dark and shiny – typical of a Syrah-based wine. On the nose there are hints of vanilla, white pepper, red berry fruits and a little bit of cinnamon and lavender. The wine is full and round in the mouth with very smooth tannins and balanced fruit. The finish is long and elegant.
As said before this wine is a good all-rounder but goes particularly well with cold, cured meats, game birds and medium-flavoured hard and soft cheeses; if you are looking for a super-quaffer that goes equally well with a wide range of food for a good price then look no further.
Parker gives the 2005 vintage of this wine 89 points so I’m giving the 2006 85 out of 100.
Available at time of publication from Majestic for £ 9.99 a bottle.