Condrieu is one of the most exotic and distinctive wines in the world, with its intense aromatics and flavors of apricots, white peach and citrus, and its luscious, almost umami body. It happens to come from a dramatically steep area, and one so small that were it not for several influential people, Marcel Guigal among them, the appellation and its Viognier grape would have been swallowed by history.
The tiny, parcelated appellation (500 acres total) is located on steep granite hillsides beginning at a bend in the Rhône river just south of Côte Rôtie and continuing intermittently about 12 miles further south. The granite hillsides have sand intermixed in their soils, and the vines for this wine average aroudn 30 years of age, and only produce around 2.4 tons of fruit per acre.
After hand harvesting and sorting, 1/3 of the wine was fermented in new barrels, which it aged in for 8 months. The rest was fermented and aged in stainless steel. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation.
2019 looks to be a nearly perfect vintage in the Northern Rhône. Following a cool spring, flowering was normal, setting a normal crop – a relief after two short harvests. Hail impacted Crozes Hermitage, but vineyards further north were not impacted. July was the hottest on record in the Rhône, but August brought some welcome rain leading into a warm and even September with perfect harvest conditions. Guigal harvested their Condrieu vineyards between September 10th and 20th, bringing in concentrated fruit with excellent acidity – better balance than even the excellent 2018.
Brilliant pale gold. The perfume (you can only call it that) has intense notes of violets, apricot, white peach, and citrus. Fresh and round on the palate, you feel the fat, the richness, yet the wine is so intensely dry and mineral. A harmony between freshness and fleshy roundness. A remarkable minerality.
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Jeb Dunnuck - "The base Condrieu from Guigal always delivers and the 2019 Condrieu is stunning stuff, giving up a beautiful bouquet of ripe nectarines, orange blossom, honeysuckle, and exotic flowers. Just classic Condrieu in every way, it's medium to full-bodied, with remarkable purity, a fleshy opulence, and a great, clean finish. Readers looking for a textbook Condrieu can't go wrong with this."
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 dry 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 serious and satisfying. While this Rosé is always a lovely aperitif, its intensity and richness make it perfect for the table, and it pairs well with all manner of cuisines. And starting with the 2020 vintage, the wine has a stunning new proprietary bottle: a subtle enhancement for an already elegant wine!
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.
Crozes-Hermitage can be considered the gateway to the red and white wines of the Northern Rhône Valley. 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 expresiveness 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.
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.