About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007
Guigal Tasting

The winery E Guigal, was started by Etienne Guigal in 1946 and has become the benchmark Rhone valley winery in France. Some consider that this firm are amongst the top five winemakers in the world. Etienne was rendered blind by an illness and handed over the reigns to his son Marcel in 1961, whose tremendous natural ability and hard work enabled the company to expand its portfolio, with one of the first wineries bought being Vidal-Fleury where Etienne had served his apprenticeship. Now Marcel's son Philippe also works in the family business.

The Guigal estate is in Ampuis and it is here that a goodly part of their wines are aged in cellars, from the famed northern appellations of Cote-Rotie, Condrieu, Hermitage, Saint Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage and the fabulous southern appellations of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Tavel and Cotes-du-Rhone. The real beauty of the wines is that there is something for every pocket and taste and they epitomize what a Rhone wine should be like.

Australia is well known and loved for its rendition of the shiraz grape, as the vines really thrive in certain locations, with perhaps the wines from the Barossa valley in South Australia being the most highly regarded, sunshine in a bottle, as they are affectionately known. Because of the warm climate, there is generally no problem getting the fruit ripe, but unless care is taken, wines can become to big and alcoholic, resulting in flabby, lackluster wines, mostly the result of not enough acidity remaining in the grapes. It is of course possible to adjust the acidity by the addition of certain compounds, which is strictly illegal in France, but interestingly the French can add sugar (chaptalization) to their wines to promote a good fermentation, but that practice is banned in Australia.

All this leads to marked differences between shiraz from Australia and syrah as it's known in France. Our wines seem more generous and open while the best French examples are more reserved but have terrific structure. Another thing that gives the Rhone wines some interest is the French habit of blending different grape varieties to round out some of their wines, grenache and mourvedre being two permitted examples. It is here that the white grape viognier is also blended with syrah to produce greater complexity in the finished wine.

If you're interested in checking out what shiraz is like from its spiritual home and perhaps its greatest maker, this Saturday, Prince Wine Store is holding a free tasting of a range of Guigal wines including Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2005 & Rouge 2003 & 2004, Crozes Hermitage Blanc 2005 & Rouge 2004, St Joseph 2003, St Joseph Hospice du Beaune 2004, Cote Rotie 2003, Chateauneuf du Pape 2003 and Gigondas 2003.

It's a great line up that would be well worth the trouble of attending. There is also at the same time a sub tasting of better credentialed Guigal wines such as Cote Rotie 2003, Chateau Cote Rotie Chateau d’Ampuis 2002, Chateau Cote Rotie Chateau d’Ampuis 2003, Cote Rotie La Turque 2003, Cote Rotie La Mouline 2003 and La Landonne 2003. However, there is a cost of $75 for this option and you do need to book.

When: Saturday, June 1 (12pm– 2pm)
Where: Prince Wine Store, 177 Bank Street, South Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9686 3033
  posted at 3:55 pm

At 5:53 pm, Anonymous Matt said...

Oh wow... Guigal is one of my favourite wine makers. I fell in love with Rhone reds a few years ago thanks to a cheap but delicious bottle of the well rounded and berrylicious E.Guigal Cote du Rhone. And have similarly enjoyed their Chataeuneuf du Pape.

Sadly won't be able to make it to this one though... but have a couple for me Neil :)

At 6:26 pm, Anonymous Cam Wheeler said...


Sounds like fun - Sydney is having a Guigal dinner as well, but it is horrendously expensive and is on the single night that I can't make it next month!

One thing though, as far as I know, Syrah is the only red grape legally permitted in Northern Rhone wines. In the South it is a bit more of a free for all with 13 red grape varieties permitted (in Chateauneuf anyway), though Syrah is more likely to be used as a blend component rather than the dominant grape.

At 7:45 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi matt, unfortunately I can't make it either, I promised my daughter to go with her to the Good Food & Wine Show this Saturday. However, on the way home last night I bought a bottle of Guigal Cote du Rhone 2003 - it was really lovely.

Hi cam, you caught me generalising. Of course you are right, Syrah is the only permitted red grape in Northern Rhone wines. It's a bit tricky to remember which appellation is permitted what grape and in what quantity as there are so many of them, eight in the North alone, each one different. I've always thought it a bit funny that even though syrah is the only allowed red grape in the north that they are quite happy to blend it with up to three different white grapes.

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