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Senior editor James Suckling joined Wine Spectator in 1981 and retired in 2010. As European bureau chief, he was based in Tuscany and tasted the wines of Italy, Bordeaux and Port.
James Suckling

A Renowned Rhône White at an L.A. Hipster Spot

E. Guigal Hermitage White 2003

James Suckling
Posted: June 4, 2009

I had dinner the other night with some friends at the Bazaar at SLS in Los Angeles, and we ate some amazing "tapas eclecticas." This must be the coolest restaurant in the city now, and the food is fantastic. Everything was amazing, from the traditional thin slices of succulent and savory Spanish ham to crunchy sweet and delicately decadent foie gras "cotton candy." The Japanese tacos weren't bad either! The Bazaar is a super-hipster, surreal gastronomic experience with its hyper-creative cuisine from José Andrés and a Paris-chic interior with lots of red velvet, dark woods and crystal chandeliers (think of Hotel Costes on Rue St.-Honoré).

Anyway, my buddy brought a bottle of E. Guigal's 2003 Hermitage Blanc that was incredible with all the food, even the buttery ham. It was best with the "cotton candy"—wooden sticks mounted with little blocks of warm, mouthwatering foie gras covered with fluffy balls of fine threads of caramelized sugar.

The white showed rich aromas of dried pineapple and honey with cream and orange peel. It was almost like apricot pie on the nose. The palate was full, opulent and round with a viscous texture, yet fresh. I was worried that it would be too oily and thick, even clumsy, like so many Hermitage whites can be—especially coming from the ultraripe year of 2003. But the wine turned out to be a wonderful contrast in ripeness and freshness. It was a real balancing act on the edge. 92 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for E. Guigal Hermitage White 2003 (91, $50 on release).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Northern Rhône whites, plus our quick list of Top Values among Rhône whites.

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