Candle-lit photo of stemless wine glass and a bottle of E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Red 2012

E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Red 2012

On my raid on Calvert Woodley, $13 bought me an E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone wine (on sale). It’s not intended to be super-fancy, but it’s an experience.

– Grape(s): 50% syrah, 45% grenache, 5% mourvedre
– Color: very dark
– Smell: earthy, peppery
– Body: 14% on label, but feels like less
– Texture: some tannin, and a lot of acidity, makes it seem ‘bright’ despite the taste.
– Taste: earthy, dark fruits
– Aftertaste: Peppery

Conclusions: I like the way the acidity and peppery-ness combine. The dark earthy flavors hang over it, and tannin kicks in to offset the acidity. It’s well done.

Sigh! I was prejudiced in favor of this wine. I wouldn’t say it isn’t good. It’s just that 45% granache is simply 45 percentage points too much for my taste. The balance of tannin and acidity is fine, but I just don’t care much for the acidity. The earthy flavors — I like the flavor a lot. If the Rhone tradition were 50% syrah, 45% mourvedre, and 5% grenache, I bet I’d love the result. As it is, I would just say: this is an example of the GSM (granache, syrah, mourvedre wine blend that clearly illustrates why we don’t count granache as one of the Great Big Reds.

But: This is a pretty good example of the French GSM blends, with the old-world syrah that is more earthy than fruity. Lots of subtlety and depth… no hint of the hot-climate, up-front fruit whoomph that you get from a lot of California and Australian Shiraz.

E. Guigal — the same family with a long tradition of wine making — makes a number of wines. This is a good entry point for understanding Cotes du Rhone.

Aside: At, some of us are eager to try the Guigal Cote-Rotie wines. These are typically at least 95% syrah and up to 5% viognier. They’re also much more expensive — $80+, and on up to $800 or more for older wines from the best vintages — but we expect a wine from Guigal with 95% syrah would be a dreamy thing, even if it isn’t something we will ever be able to afford to keep around the house for casual drinking.

From Guigal:

– Eye : Deep and dark red. Shiny.
– Nose : Fresh fruits with red berries and spices.
– Palate : Full, round and racy. Rounded and smooth tannins. A full-bodied, rich and intensly aromatic wine.
– Overall : Full with a long finish and plenty of elegance and finesse due to the well balanced tannins and fruit.

Aged 18 months in oak.

From Robert Parker:

“…the 2012 Cotes du Rhone from Guigal is a smokin’ value that offers classic southern Rhone notes of peppery herbs, smoked earth and almost chocolatey dark fruits. Medium plus-bodied, concentrated, with both fine tannin and bright acidity, it will deliver the good for at least 5-7 years.” (Wine Advocate 2015 – Robert Parker) The best value!