What to drink this week
Corners of the Rhône
When I visited the celebrated family company of E. Guigal in the northern Rhône last year, my overriding impressions were of almost fanatical dedication and professionalism. The Guigal work ethic, passed on now down three generations, is legendary: when I asked Marcel, the current patriarch, if he had interests other than wine, there was a noticeable pause before he mentioned racing cars. On a freezing February day, the 75 year old insisted on taking me up the steep slopes of Côte-rôtie to inspect what seemed like every single vine.
Why you should be drinking them
Guigal is best known for its magnificent Côte Rôties, including the so-called ‘La-la’ wines made from tiny plots, but the company offers a splendid range of wines from all corners of the Rhône valley, especially the northern half. At a recent tasting, I was also impressed by examples from lesser-known appellations, including whites.
What to drink
If you know the straggly northern Rhône appellation of St-joseph, it’s probably for its floral-scented reds, such as lesser Côte Rôtie. However, Guigal’s St Joseph Lieu Dit Blanc 2012 (below, £270 per dozen, excluding VAT; www.frw.co.uk) is very fine, big, full, rich and round, with impressive complexity. Crozes-hermitage is also better known for reds, but Guigal’s Crozes-hermitage 2014 (£126 per dozen, excluding VAT; www.frw.co.uk) is hauntingly floral on the nose, then follows through with ripe apricot notes and firm minerality on the palate. Guigal’s Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde 2012 (£317 per dozen, excluding VAT; www.frw.co.uk) has enticingly elegant raspberry fruit—my notes say ‘awfully good—beautiful’.