Guigal | Domaine E.
Three generations ago, Etienne Guigal toiled for Vidal-Fleury, founding a modest cellar in Ampuis on the strength of his earnings. Thirty-eight years later, Etienne's son, Marcel, purchased Vidal-Fleury—a rags-to-riches saga worthy of a Hollywood screenplay! Now, Marcel has passed the baton to son Philippe, who recently returned from winemaking apprenticeships in Bordeaux, California and Australia to assume control of the cellars in Ampuis; the Guigal star appears destined to burn brighter still.
Except for the occasional wine lover who has been confined to a cave for the last twenty years, any praise for Guigal is, by now, superfluous; the words “Guigal” and “excellence” have become synonymous. Guigal's public relations engine has been fueled, largely, by the firm's vineyard-designated Côte Rôties—“La Mouline”, “La Landonne”, and “La Turque”—a trio that connoisseurs stalk without regard for time or expense (we mean that literally; a Canadian wine fancier is reputed to have offered Marcel Guigal the use of his helicopter, racing boat and Ferrari in exchange for a mixed case of the wines!).
More gratifying is the strength of Guigal's “standard” bottlings, from Côte Rôtie in the north, to Côtes-du-Rhône in the south. The latter, especially, is a godsend for those of us who lack Champagne budgets; how Guigal maintains this quality level for a wine now bottled in 100,000 case quantities is a question worthy of Sherlock Holmes!
Most gratifying is the firm's integrity and perseverance. Marcel's icon status in the 1970s hasn't made the vintner complacent in the 1990s; visitors to Ampuis are still likely to find Marcel in the caves—be-decked in his ubiquitous plaid beret—unflagging in his quest for perfection.. “This planet’s greatest winemaker.”—Robert Parker.