Crozes-Hermitage Blanc 2016
Crozes-Hermitage is the “entry” appellation to the Northern Rhône Valley, but there are very clearly quality vineyard sites that can produce wines of appealing complexity and depth. While not much Crozes-Hermitage white is produced, Guigal has become the most important producer of white wine in the Rhône Valley, and from their vineyards and in their hands, Crozes displays an expressiveness and brightness while also capturing the warmth of the area. Explosive and exotic floral and fruit aromas and flavors meld with intense mineral notes, and the silky, powerful concentration of flavors has an appealing roundness that finishes remarkably fresh.
Vineyards are from the Guigal estate holdings, with vines averaging 25 years of age and planted on soils of clay silt and sand and gravel. Yields are low at 2.1 tons per acre. It’s important to note that most of Crozes-Hermitage is produced from the plains to the south and east of Hermitage, and these wines tend to be straightforward. Guigal’s approach is to make a more serious Crozes that while maintaining its approachability, has vigor, intensity and depth.
The 95% Marsanne and 5% Roussanne wine was aged for 12 months, in stainless steel and a part in second use oak on the lees.
Following the spectacular 2015 vintage in the Northern Rhône, the 2016 is another excellent vintage, though the path was not nearly as straightforward as in 2015. The spring was cool and wet and the vintage looking very late and complicated. Hot weather in July and no rain until September meant that vines were stressed from the other direction. A little bit of rain was needed at the end of September, and then a huge bit of luck to have good weather through October. That’s exactly what happened. The resulting wines have concentration with a lot of freshness, and an uncommon openness given the intensity of both these factors. We anticipate 2015/2016 to be a battle of quality and differing styles to be played out over many years.
Golden, with aromas of white flowers (hawthorn) and acacia, and delicate notes of oak. Fine and elegant on the palate, with a full body, and lovely richness. Remarkable freshness, balancing finesse and richness.
Suggested Retail Price
Josh Raynolds, Vinous Media - "Pale gold. Lively citrus and orchard fruit aromas show very good delineation and a lively mineral overtone. Silky and focused on the palate, offering pure tangerine and honeysuckle flavors and a refreshingly bitter pear skin nuance. In a taut, nervy style, especially in light of the vintage, delivering solid closing thrust and crackling minerality."
Other Wines by this Producer
Guigal’s Côtes du Rhône Blanc both sets and steps outside the standard for the appellation and showcases one of the great secrets of the Guigal family: their specialization in the great white Rhône varieties. While only 8% of the Rhône's production is white, a full 25% of Guigal’s production is white and they are today the single largest producer of whites in the Rhône Valley.
The Guigal family has made serious rosé wines since the 1940s, and their Côtes du Rhône Rosé, like all their Côtes du Rhône wines, is humble in name only. The wine bursts with irresistible fresh red fruits and yet is also long and satisfying. Because of its quality and body, it's a rosé that you can bring to the table, and do so all year long. It is a rosé that offers both refreshment and pleasure.
Given that this particular wine can be the introduction to the entire Rhône Valley for a drinker, as well as the position they occupy in the Rhône, it is not enough for the Guigals to make a good Côtes du Rhône. They are relentlessly driven to produce a distinctive and outstanding wine that drives interest in exploring the entirety of the Rhône.
Crozes-Hermitage can be considered the gateway to the red and white wines of the Northern Rhône Valley. The reds, which are the majority of production, have wonderful warm flavors of red and black fruit, and typical Syrah pepper, spice and savory notes.
Guigal’s Gigondas is an incredible introduction to serious Southern Rhône reds, and a show-stopper at the price. In the hands of Guigal, the rich ripe fruit and savory character of the wine bursts with sheer pleasure, yet the wine displays terrific refinement, complexity, length and ability to age.
Guigal produces an intensely concentrated, inviting and complex Châteauneuf-du Pape that is almost unique to the region today. Their passion for Châteauneuf, the leading appellation of the Southern Rhône, runs as deeply as that for their home sites in the Northern Rhône.
Hermitage is one of France’s most spectacular and famous appellations, producing small quantities of extraordinarily intense and ageworthy red wine and tiny amounts of dry white. The entire vineyard consists of 309 acres planted on a single granite hillside on the banks of the Rhône. The Hermitage Rouge is the example of a racy wine, that manages to remain seductive.
Guigal is synonymous with the Côte-Rôtie area, for bringing this great wine region to prominence, and for owning three times as much land as next largest land-owner, vinifiying 1/3 of the total appellation, and unquestionably holding the finest sites in this tiny, special area. The incredible Syrah from this area, co-fermented with a touch of Viognier, has tremendously balanced concentration, depth and finesse.
Whites make up a small percentage of production in the Rhône, under 2%, but white wines are a little bit of a secret specialty at Guigal and today comprise 25% of their production. And for good reason, as the whites of the Northern Rhône are true discovery wines, immensely appealing and complex. They specifically display an expressiveness and brightness while also capturing the warmth of the area. Even more of a discovery is Hermitage Blanc, one of the least-known yet most intriguing wines of the Rhône Valley and in the small 309 acre Hermitage AOC.