Monday, 28 January 2013

Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu (2011)

Often it will take a winery centuries to garner a reputation as one of the finest in a region, but 70 years ago the winery of the Guigal family did not exist. Established in 1946 by Etienne Guigal, the Guigal family winery is today one of the most respected in the Rhone (Southern France). Based near Ampuis (in Cote Rotie), the Guigal family nonetheless produce wines from across a myriad of appellations from both the Northern and Southern stretches of the Rhone and rarely are their products less than impressive.

This 2011 Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu is one of the Guigal winery’s flagship wines. Traditionally one of the region’s benchmarks for a richer and oakier style of Condrieu, this 2011 Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu ought not to disappoint. Very low yields of intensely flavoured Viognier grapes were sourced from steeply sloping, terraced vineyards before this 2011 Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu was both fermented and matured exclusively in new oak barrels. Maturation was for 9 months and this 2011 Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu has now been bottled, although is not yet (at the time of writing) available on the UK market.

A rich lemon colour in the glass, this 2011 Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu shows both the influence of oak in enriching the colour of this wine and a viscosity in its legs that is suggestive of the relatively pronounced alcoholic content (in excess of 14% abv).

Aromatically particularly pronounced, this 2011 Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu offers primary aromas of dried apricot, super-ripe white peach and even a hint of nectarine. The oak’s influence upon this 2011 Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu is shown in the form of an obvious kernel and vanilla musk.

Smooth and luxurious on the palate, this 2011 Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu is utterly sublime. Whilst somewhat heftily weighted, the fruit and nut nuances of this 2011 Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu float along on top of a silky acidity that keeps things flowing and fresh but is never allowed to fully cleanse the palate as the flavours really do persist that fully. There would be a great opportunity for this 2011 Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu to be overwhelmed by the oak and become overtly sluggish, although the balance that Phillippe Guigal has been able to conjure is this wine’s greatest asset.

Around 20,000 bottles of this Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu were produced in the 2011 vintage and to produce more than 3,200 cases of a wine this fine in a single vintage is a huge achievement in itself.

Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu (2011)

Score: 94/100 – This 2011 Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu is a masterpiece. An outstanding score could be the only outcome.

Value for Money: 7/10 Not widely in the UK, 2010 examples of this Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu are priced at around £80 per bottle in the few merchants that stock them. This 2011 Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu is a wine that will be extraordinary expensive to buy but also extraordinary good!