Saint-Joseph Blanc 2019
Guigal believes, as do a number of top producers working in the area, that Saint-Joseph will be one of the great stories in the next few decades, reaching the renown it received several hundred years ago. Saint-Joseph Blanc is a serious wine, with weight and complexity, and is deeply reflective of its vineyard sites. A seamless balance of freshness and fruitiness, pleasure and interest, and flavors and structure. Guigal’s specialty in whites is especially evident in this wine, as it is almost a deceptively serious wine.
This Saint Joseph Blanc is comprised of fruit from the exceptional vineyards of Domaine J. L. Grippat (purchased in 2000) and de Vallouit (purchased in 2001), as well as some purchased fruit from hillside vineyards, all of the above around the communes of Tournon and Sarras. Guigal only works in the southern area of Saint Joseph, on intensely steep hillside sites that are the origin of the appellation.
Vines average in age from 20 to 50 years, and are planted on limestone and sandy granite soils. In sum, the wine is composed of 95% Marsanne and 5% Roussanne.
Guigal’s Saint-Joseph vineyards are among the best in the appellation, situated on hillsides with complex soils of decomposed granite with limestone and sandy granite topoils.
How Guigal came to own these vineyards needs its own chapter, but we will try to summarize. In short, the Guigals for years wanted to purchase land in Hermitage. Jean-Louis Grippat, considered the best producer in Saint Joseph at the time, had no heirs interested in taking over his family business, and told the Guigals he was going to sell his vineyards, including land he owned in Hermitage. The catch was that the sale was all or nothing; he would not parcel out his vineyard holdings.
Marcel and Philippe drove the 45 minutes down to Saint-Joseph from Côte-Rôtie, and somberly discussed in the car how they would have to explain to Jean-Louis that they were not interested. It was not something they could do over the phone, hence the drive. When they arrived, rather than sitting down for a discussion, Jean-Louis took them right to his Saint-Joseph vineyards. Though they live only 45 minutes north, the Guigals had never seen the region through the eyes of one of its top producers, and never walked vineyards of this quality. They fell in love, and made the purchase. Another portion of the vineyard was acquired when they purchased the spectacular holdings in Hermitage and Saint-Joseph of the De Vallouit family (this time they didn’t need convincing about Saint-Joseph).
Fermentation is in stainless steel, with a slow pressing allowing the wine to stay on its skins. The entire wine goes through malolactic fermentation, and is then aged in a combination stainless steel (50%) and barrel (25% new, 25% second use, all coopered by Guigal at Château d’Ampuis).
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 across the river in Saint-Joseph were not affected. 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 Saint Joseph whites on September 11th and 12th, bringing in supremely concentrated fruit with excellent acidity.
The 2019 Saint-Joseph Blanc is rich and well-structured with a touch of oak supporting concentrated flavors of quince, vanilla, and lanolin.
Suggested Retail Price
Jeb Dunnuck -
"Pretty apple blossom, spice, and sappy flower notes dominate the bouquet of the 2019 Saint Joseph Blanc. This carries to a more medium-bodied, elegant white that offers a solid sense of minerality, good mid-palate depth and concentration, notable balance, and a great finish."
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.