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E. GUIGAL Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1999 93 points, $30
In a year of economic uncertainty, Wine Spectator honors a wine that combines outstanding quality with fair price and wide availability. Rhône vintner Marcel Guigal marries the grower's craft with the blending art of the négociant. His 1999 E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape reflects this mastery, and so earns the distinction of Wine of the Year.
Few wine producers in the world rival Guigal's ability to deliver both quality and value at all price points. The 1999 Châteauneuf-du-Pape falls in the middle of Guigal's range. To produce it, Guigal and his son work with brokers and growers, who ship samples to Guigal headquarters in the Northern Rhône town of Ampuis. Selection is ruthless, says Philippe. Out of 30 to 40 samples received, only one might be retained for the Châteauneuf blend.
The Châteauneuf-bound wines are kept separate from one another in Guigal's cellar, where they age for nearly two years before being blended and bottled. The 1999 wines were aged in new 1,600-gallon foudres, or oak vats, that were installed following an expansion of the winery, says Philippe.
It is a tribute to Guigal's perfectionism that he unearthed enough fine wine to produce an outstanding Châteauneuf in 1999, which was but a very good vintage for the region overall (87 points on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale).
Guigal's 1999 is a complex wine that reflects Châteauneuf-du-Pape's distinctive combination of fruit, wet earth, game, leather and mineral flavors. Its depth and character come primarily from a large quantity of old-vine Grenache (70 percent of the blend); the remainder comprises 20 percent Syrah, 5 percent Mourvèdre and 5 percent other varieties.
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