Hermitage Blanc 2016
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. 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.
Hermitage is one of France’s most spectacular and famous appellations, but Hermitage Blanc is one of the least-known yet most intriguing wines of the Rhône Valley. Composed primarily of Marsanne (95%) and small amounts of Roussanne (5%), it is relatively rare, accounting for only a small percentage of the production of the 309 acre Hermitage AOC.
This is a rare wine, accounting for only a small percentage of the production of the 309 acre Hermitage AOC. The Marsanne (95%) Roussanne (5%) fruit is harvested from old vines between 30-90 years of age. Various blocks are planted on granite limestone, clay loam and sandy gravel topsoils on the famous granite mother rock, which yields wine of tremendous structure.
Yields are under 2.3 tons per acre, requiring extremely judicious farming.
Temperature controlled fermentation, between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, the wine ages for 24 months in second year barrels.
Following the spectacular 2015 vintage in the Northern Rhone, 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.
The wine evolves in a remarkable fashion, tasting vibrant and rich with notes of spice just after bottling, developing a softer, rounder character after a few years, and returning with renewed freshness and much greater complexity after 10 or 15 years in the cellar. There is an unmistakable minerality on the palate, and a stacked-mid palate that lingers.
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Vinous - May 29, 2020
"Light, vivid gold. Mineral-driven peach brandy, white pear, lemon pith and succulent herb aromas show fine detail and a hint of green tea. Densely packed and focused on the palate, offering an array of orchard and pit fruit flavors that take on anise and bitter quinine qualities as the wine opens up. Closes very long and stony, with a strong echo of bitter pear skin and a sweetening touch of honey."
James Suckling - October 30, 2019 "This offers a fresh array of melon and pears with hints of mirabelles. The palate has a more savory stance with rich and ripe peaches and pears, plenty of spice and a savory, almond finish."
Jeb Dunnuck - May 20, 2019 "The 2016 Hermitage Blanc gives up plenty of golden fruits, honeysuckle and that obvious Hermitage minerality to go with medium to full-bodied richness and depth on the palate. It’s classic stuff, with a great finish, and will keep for over a decade, although it’s certainly terrific today."
Other Wines by this Producer
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.
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!
Guigal’s Vignes de l’Hospice is one of the finest sites in the Northern Rhone Valley. This steeply terraced vineyard used to be divided into three, but Guigal now owns majority of this parcel in order to restore perception of Saint-Joseph as an appellation of utmost quality. In fact, Guigal is often asked when they will produce a fourth “LaLa,” and their response is that their fourth single vineyard phenomenon of the Northern Rhone is already being produced: the Vignes de l’Hospice.
A result of its quality, Guigal’s Saint-Joseph Lieu Dit Rouge comes from the “Saint-Joseph” vineyard that gives the appellation its name. This site convinced the Guigals to work in Saint-Joseph and help to restore the historic perception of Saint-Joseph as an appellation of utmost quality. The 100% Syrah wine has complex and deep black fruit, floral, spice and mineral characteristics. Despite its concentration and powerful attack, the wine retains the trademark elegance that Saint-Joseph offers.
A result of its quality, Guigal’s Saint-Joseph Blanc Lieu Dit comes from the “Saint-Joseph” vineyard that gives the appellation its name. This site convinced the Guigals to work in Saint-Joseph and help to restore the historic perception of Saint-Joseph as an appellation of utmost quality. 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.
Ermitage Ex-Voto represents the fulfillment of a longtime dream of Marcel Guigal’s to own vineyard land on the hill of Hermitage. Through the purchase of the de Vallouit and J. L. Grippat domaines in
2000, Guigal acquired four exceptional vineyard parcels on this legendary site. The 2001 vintage was the first release of this estate-bottled Hermitage red and white. The quality of the intense old-vine fruit is quite special, but given the Guigal’s already strong work in Hermitage, they decided to only release an Ex-Voto red or white when the wine is utterly exceptional and clearly superior to their appellation bottlings.
Ermitage Ex-Voto represents the fulfillment of a longtime dream of Marcel Guigal’s to own vineyard land on the hill of Hermitage. Through the purchase of the de Vallouit and J. L. Grippat domaines in 2000, Guigal acquired four exceptional vineyard parcels on this legendary site. The 2001 vintage was the first release of this estate-bottled Hermitage red and white. The quality of the intense old-vine fruit is quite special, but given the Guigal’s already strong work in Hermitage, they decided to only release an Ex-Voto red or white when the wine is utterly exceptional and clearly superior to their appellation bottlings.
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. The combination of working with top fruit that has perfect ripeness, along with their extraordinary patience in the cellar, results in rich and full, yet savory, spicy, seamless and balanced wines. Wines to enjoy immediately but capable of aging, and, above all, wines that leave you wanting more.
La Doriane is a luxury cuvée of Condrieu that the Guigals have produced since the 1994 vintage. A great success since the first vintage, the wine always seems richly oaked and very fruity when young, transforming in 3-4 years into a seamlessly complex, aromatic and vibrant wine. La Doriane contradicts the accepted wisdom that Condrieu does not age well.