Wine Star: Philippe Guigal

The Côte-Rôtie winemaker shares a long-awaited "La-La" wine
Wine Star: Philippe Guigal
Philippe Guigal poured the 2011 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque. (Deepix Studios)
Oct 25, 2016

Philippe Guigal is no stranger to the Wine Experience. Over the decades, E. Guigal—the family firm founded in 1946 by his grandfather, Etienne Guigal, in the village of Ampuis in Côte-Rôtie—has produced a series of coveted, collectible wines from France's Northern and Southern Rhône Valleys.

At the 2014 Wine Experience, Philippe, now winemaker and managing director, presented a flight of Northern Rhône wines, including vintages of the single-vineyard cuvées La Mouline and La Landonne. He omitted the third of the coveted "La-La" vineyards, La Turque, quipping, "It gives me an opportunity to come back another time."

On Friday afternoon, that opportunity arrived. The Wine Star returned to present the E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque 2011 ($530), a Syrah (blended with a small percentage of Viognier) that earned 97 points from Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth. The pair bantered back and forth—the construction of Guigal's newest cellar had caused delays in Molesworth's recent Rhône tasting trip—but grew serious when Guigal talked vinification techniques and the 2011 vintage.

"People forgot about the quality of this vintage," Guigal said. "The only thing that is wrong with 2011 is that it's following 2010. If we had the same vintage after '08, people would have said, 'Wow, this is an astonishing vintage.'"

La Turque, a small parcel on a steep south-facing hillside, produces an average of 400 cases per vintage. "Be sure we're going to drink a significant part of that production today," Guigal wryly told the crowd.

As the winemaker mentioned how they are moving to more sustainable methods of farming, applause broke out at his prophecy for the future of grapegrowing: "Whether you like it or not, within the next 10 to 15 years, everything will be organic in France." Sending a "Santé!" to the crowd from his father, Marcel, Guigal left the stage to return to his vines and wrap up the ongoing harvest.

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