A Guigal tasting presented by their brand ambassador, Brett Crittenden. While not a blind tasting, it was useful to contrast some of their different wines that span both the northern and southern Rhone and across quality levels. (See below for wines tasted)
Contrasting the Crozes-Hermitage with the Saint Joseph was good. Both reasonably peppery and neither as full bodied, concentrated, or complex as the Cote Rotie or Hermitage but. The most obvious and simplest distinction between the two was that the Crozes-Hermitage had flesh and the Saint Joseph didn’t. But that’s not to say the Saint Joseph was lean or hard. It was finely textured with focus and precision.
While the Chateauneuf was a for sure a full body structured wine it didn’t have the density of the Hermitage or the Cote Rotie — perhaps a result of the later two being 100% and 95% Syrah, respectively. All three had a combination of savoury and sweet characteristics. However, this contrast was most pronounced in the Chateauneuf. Here the sweet notes were a luscious, confectionery, raisined fruit type sweetness rather than just a ripe fruit sweetness seen in the Hermitage and Cote Rotie — a result of the Grenache perhaps. Another clear distinction between the northern Rhone wines and those of the south was the much fresher acid in the former.
The crowd at the tasting was mostly enthusiastic consumers. The vast majority picked the Cote Rotie as their wine of the night. Despite coming from a lesser vintage than the Hermitage (which everyone agreed was very good and very massive!) I think most people were seduced by the perfumed charm and silky elegance of the Cote Rotie. For me, my wine of the night was the Saint Joseph Blanc.
Lieu-Dit St Joseph Blanc 2014
(95% Marsanne 5% Roussanne. 14% alc)
Golden hues. Pronounced, volumptuous aromatics of honeysuckle, almond paste, blossom, sweet spice and stone fruit. Rich, slippery palate with notes of honey, blossom, sweet spice, and stonefruit, with distinct phenolic bitterness leading onto the finish
Cotes du Rhone Rose 2014
(60% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 10% Syrah)
Relatively restrained aromatics of ripe strawberry. An open broad palate with generous flavours of sweet strawberry fruit. Fresh finish.
Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2012
(50% Syrah, 45% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre. 18mths oak foudres)
Dark fruits (blackberry), spice, licorice, and a hint of leather. Medium body with good structure and generous length. More structure and dark fruits than many Cote du Rhones.
Chateauneuf du Pape 2010
(70% old vine Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 5% others, 14% alc)
Relatively subdued but ripe and complex aromatics: a mixture of savoury and sweet with a hint of a VA lift. Grainy, gravelly texture with a plummy richness and sweet raspberry contrasting savoury and herbal notes.
(100% Syrah. 18mths 3rd use oak)
Generous and open aromatics: blueberry, blackberry, graphite with leathery gamey earthy notes and a peppery sappyness. A lighter and smoother palate than the Chateauneuf but with a crunchier fruit profile and much higher acid. Good concentration. More flesh than the Saint Joseph
Saint Joseph Rouge 2012
(100% Syrah. 16mths 2nd use oak)
Tighter, more focused and precise aromatics. A light peppery finely textured palate. Refreshing. Less flesh than the Crozes-Hermitage
Hermitage Rouge 2010
(100% Syrah. 36 mths in 60% new oak and 40% 2nd fill. No filtration or fining)
Big powerfu concentrated nose blackberry, graphite, leather, wood, very complex. Massive, upfront, blackcurrent blackberry. Abundent big ripe tannins; concentrated dense mid-palate, sweet rich ripe fruit. This was a big wine. Hugely concentrated
(95% Syrah with 5% Viognier. 36 mths in 60% new oak and 40% second fill)
Elegant, perfumed aromatics of violets, dark fruits, grilled vegetables, and spice. Silky pronounced mid-palate, elegant fresher acid, underlying apricot kernal on finish with oily smoothness.