2012 Emile Guigal Château d’Ampuis Côte-Rôtie, Rhône, France
Grapes are sourced from 7 vineyards, on steep slopes and exceptional terroirs: Le Clos “Côte Blonde”, La Garde “Côte Blonde”, La Grande Plantée “Côte Blonde”, La Pommière “Côte Brune”, Le Pavillon Rouge “Côte Brune”. Le Moulin “Côte Brune” La Viria “Côte Brune”.
Vines here are around 50 years of age, but records show that these sites were already planted in the 16th century.
30.000 bottles and 3000 magnums of the 2012 vintage were produced. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine underwent an extended maturation in new French oak barrels for 38 months.
Given the high score (95/100), you’ve already understood that this is rather exceptional!
But what does E. Guigal Chateau d’Ampuis Côte-Rôtie actually taste like?
This Côte-Rôtie comes in a very intense dark-red color, nice and black to the core, shiny red to the rim. Nothing like your hugely-dense Shiraz, it’s shiny and bright and doesn’t absorb all the light like some monster-wines do, but still looking dense.
The appearance is one thing, but put your nose in the glass!
That is when you realize something special is standing in front of you…
There is a lot going on, with such intensity and controlled power on the aroma! Where do we start?
The dominant notes are those of dark-roasted cocoa and delicate vanilla, making it smell somewhat like these outrageously-tempting and luscious dark-chocoloate cakes when they’re just out of the oven and you’re in the room when it happens (e.g. a fondant!). Something inside you tells you “just go ahead, and eat it all if you can!”
But it’s not only that happening here. Powerful and lifted black pepper fills the glass too, as well as cherry liqueur fruit. Nutmeg and clove, roasted hazelnut. So it’s not only tempting, and making you crave for it, it’s also very complex and somewhat paradoxically exuberantly refined.
The palate puts things together and in perspective.
Dense and very smooth tannins invade your taste buds. But nothing like your heavy overly-rich Shiraz. The flavor-power of great Syrah is there, with richness and aromatic intensity (especially the black pepper), but here with minerality and acidity. It’s so balanced that the overwhelming flavor intensity actually feels light and very palatable.
One of the absolute joys in this wine, is that you realize you are drinking something extremely special, concentrated and complex, filled with enormous amounts of flavors, but it actually tastes easy to sip, smooth, balanced by the just right amount of fruity sweetness to counter the savory dark cocoa and spices, and eventually rather easy-going in its utter seriousness.
Yes, it is still quite oaky and young at this stage. But all the basis of an outstanding wine are built-in this Côte-Rôtie Syrah: a combination of power and elegance, minerality and terroir together with oak and opulence.
When to drink?
This will age for 20 years and more I’m sure.
I truly believe it’s gorgeous now although the oak will benefit from further integrating with time. Give it five years at least for this to come together if oak really bothers you, although it is very elegant and respects the wine already here.
Of course, from 2025 onwards, this baby of a wine will only gain in depth, savoriness, and complexity from aging and developing, building on its huge potential.