To those who know me personally, you may think that this blog is about the newly minted Baby LTLT (who is doing great, thanks for asking); but it’s not. Today we’re having a look at one of my (and many others’) favourite wines of all time. A wine that year after year continues to get better, and continues to be one of the absolute bargains of the wine world. One of the first European wines that I really loved, and unlike many wines that were young loves – the more I learn about wine the more I realise just how special this one is.
So what is it?
The Guigal Cotes du Rhone (CdR) rouge (Grenache/Shiraz/Mouvedre) – a roughly $20-$25 wine that most of you will have at least seen on the shelves (and many even tried too).
During the week, I was lucky enough to attend a seminar featuring the maker of this wine – Philippe Guigal. I’ve touched on the Guigal wines before in these pages, but the story is worth both repeating and elaborating.
Philippe, and his family business, are a seriously big deal in the world wine industry. Their top wines: La Mouline, La Turque & La Landonne, are landmark wines from Cote-Rotie in the Northern Rhone valley in central France (the European home of Syrah / Shiraz and Syrah-Viognier wines) and one could mount a pretty cohesive argument to say that they are the most sought after Shiraz based wines (2 of the 3 include some Viognier) in the world. Demand way outstrips supply and you won’t get much change from a cool $1000 per bottle…
But today we’re here to talk about the ‘little guy’ of the range (albeit in price if not in volume). Guigal make approximately 3.5 million bottles of this wine every year, a staggering amount when compared to the 5-10,000 bottles they make of their top wines. Most wine produced in these quantities is, to put it mildly, swill; Guigal’s CdR is an absolute joy to drink. At my seminar it was the first wine we tasted, and more than held its own against the 4 other Grenache blends it was paired with (including Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines from Domaine la Roquete, Vieux Telegraphe & Chateau de Beaucastel for those who are familiar), all of which are significantly more expensive.
What makes it so special?
Philippe himself opened the day by stating that “it is the most important wine that we make”, showing their commitment to making a great product at a great price. Whereby most wineries producing bulk wines will look to buy bulk grapes, Guigal work mostly with small growers that can consistently deliver higher quality fruit – meaning that to produce this wine they manage relationships with a mind-boggling 800-850 individual growers. Furthermore, to ensure they get first pick of the best fruit, they offer the brokers (that find the growers) a higher-than-standard commission. In a final step that they take to provide a consistent result no matter what the quality of the vintage; rather than just buy fruit at the (lowest) CdR ‘classification’ they source from several different quality levels and then will blend to make sure the standard is retained.
The wine itself is currently on the 2010 vintage, an absolutely spectacular year, and one that is reflected in more structure to the wine than usual – a more defined skeleton on which the wine is built, if you will. On the nose it is a burst of strawberries and fresh cherries, it smells like an orchard! The palate continues with nice sweet fruit and some lovely soft tannin. It’s like great design – easy on the eye, easy to enjoy, but underpinned with top-notch craftsmanship and care.
Needless to say it’s available via LTLT, and is an absolute weapon as a FNPW.
P.S. as new dad, I couldn’t resist adding a bonus photo of Baby LTLT!