In only a few decades, the Guigal family has reached extraordinary heights to become an icon of the northern Rhône vineyard. It owes its success in part to the cuvées produced from three legendary parcels that express all the elegance and complexity of the Côte-Rôtie terroir: La Mouline, La Turque and La Landonne. We take a look at exactly what makes these single vineyard cuvées the subject of such intense bidding wars on the iDealwine auction platform.
Some domains build their reputation over centuries, others over just two generations! Such is the case for Maison Guigal that was founded in 1946 by Etienne Guigal. In 1961, the baton was passed on to his son Marcel who made huge leaps, allowing the wines to reach new levels in quality during the 1970s. This talented winemaker succeeded in producing more rounded and elegant wines, taming and mastering the rustic style of Côte-Rôtie reds. Etienne soon became regarded as the best négociant-producer in the region, making wines considered steps above the standardised oaked style that the region became known for. Today, Marcel’s son Philippe, a gifted oenologue, and his wife Eve ensure that this domain continues its reign of glory and remains strictly a family affair, now in its third generation.
The Guigal family enjoy a shining reputation amongst wine lovers the world over. This reputation stems from their titanic efforts in developing the Côte Brune and the Côte Blonde, a challenge that Marcel took on wholeheartedly. Here, the LA-LA-LA cuvées reign supreme and make many a wine lover weak in the knees. This mellifluous name is a contraction of three mythic parcels: La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque. But why do they illicit such a reaction? Seduced by the exceptional character of these three Côte-Rôtie, the critic Robert Parker has blessed them all at some point with the rare 100/100 Parker Score. Let’s examine the attributes of these wines that led an eminent critic like Robert Parker, who at his peak influenced the wine market like no other, to succumb to their charm.
We’ll start with La Mouline, a lieu-dit in the Côte Blonde where the Syrah and Viognier vines have found a happy home for nearly 80 years and produce wines of great finesse, elegance and body. These wines owe their voluptuous and silky texture to an important proportion of Viognier and can be enjoyed in their youth or cellared for a considerable amount of time.
Next, we head to the vertiginous slopes of the Côte Brune (65°) and the La Landonne parcel, situated in soils rich in iron oxide. The wines produced from this vineyard are more powerful and display a much darker robe, almost black in colour. Despite appearances the mouth offers remarkable balance and freshness. By dint of patience, wine lovers are rewarded: La Landonne requires at least ten years in the cellar for lighter vintages and many decades for more tannic years.
La Turque is the true Holy Grail of the Côte-Rôtie and was Marcel’s final addition to the Guigal empire. This lieu-dit was entirely replanted and production is highly restricted. The vines benefit from a unique and exceptional climate with permanent sunlight exposure that allows the grapes to reach ideal maturity and be harvested late. Powerful and delicate, La Turque marries the virility of the Côte Brune with the feminine accents of the Côte Blonde. Doted with extraordinary depth, and often delicious even in youth, this wine has immense ageing potential that allows it to reach majestic unctuosity.
Over the years, admiration for these wines has never wavered, and for good reason! The Guigal family preserve their good name through their meticulous approach in the vineyard and the chai. Organic methods, low yields, relatively late harvests and vinifications that are as natural as possible (no fining, no filtration) ensure that Guigal maintain their unrivalled excellence across vintages.
It comes as little surprise that Guigal’s wines are highly sought-after on the iDealwine auction platform. During 2017, Guigal established itself as THE reference from the northern Rhône. Nearly 900 bottles were exchanged on the iDealwine auction platform, reaping serious results: a bottle of La Mouline 1985 fetched €1,304, a La Turque 1985 went for €840 and a La Landonne 2005 for €517. Monopole and rarity are the key words here and the reason behind the impressive price tags. In fact, La Mouline is the exclusive property of Maison Guigal and only 4,000 bottles of La Turque are produced each year. These cuvées evoke particularly exciting bidding wars when they surface in a prodigious vintage!
The 4th jewel in the Guigal crown is the Côte-Rôtie Château d’Ampuis whose price continues to rise. It comes from 40-year-old vines cultivated on six exceptional terroirs in the appellation. It may not enjoy the same fame as the LA-LA-LA trio but we’d happily bet that it will soon be up there with its famous siblings.
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