Guigal is without a doubt one of the very most famous producer of the Rhone wine region in the South East of France.
Based in the Northern Rhone part of the area, the winery produces about 7 million bottles of many different wines ranging from pleasing everyday-drinking Côtes du Rhône of all colors, to prestigious appellations like Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Hermitage or Côte-Rotie.
Read on as we discover more about this estate, its history, its vineyards, its wines.
Tasting Notes & Wine Reviews
The Guigal estate was founded in 1946 by Etienne Guigal in a small, ancient village named Ampuis.
Following his arrival in 1924 at the age of 14, the founder vinified 67 vintages in Côte-Rôtie and, at the beginning of his career, took part in the development of Vidal-Fleury.
In 1961, his young son Marcel Guigal took over the management of the estate as his father was struck by temporary but total blindness. He was joined in 1973 by his wife, Bernadette and they worked hand-in-hand to expand the family business. Their son Philippe was born in 1975.
Since 1997 and up to this day, Philippe Guigal is the oenologist and chief winemaker of the Guigal estate. Together with his wife, Eve, he represents the third generation and continues the family’s dedication to the greatest wines of the Rhône valley.
The winery is located in the Northern Rhône, in Ampuis, a small village being the heart of the Côte-Rôtie appellation. It is overlooked by unique vineyards where vines and wine have been celebrated for over 2,400 years.
The GUIGAL estate produces wines from the Northern Rhône appellations as Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage and also wines from the Southern Rhône appellations such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Tavel and Côtes-du-Rhône.
The climate is semi-continental with mild winters, hot summers, and pretty regular rainfalls.
Winds play a significant role in the maturation of the grapes. The hillsides, generally facing south or south-east, are relatively protected from the cold north wind, and exposed to the warm southerly wind. This wind has a drying effect, helps to protect the vineyard against disease and speeds up the ripening process.
Our estate vineyards are coming from both sectors of the Appellation: the Côte Blonde and the Côte Brune.
In the southern part of the AOC, the Côte blonde’s parcels consists in a substrate of gneiss (and composite gneiss to the far south) with limestone and silica on the surface. Erosion created siliceous soils, light in color, often with increased calcification due to the loess coating of the plateau. On the Côte blonde, and in similar locations, the clay soil or “arzel” that results from erosion to this substrate is extremely crumbly and unstable. They cannot be cultivated without being held in place by a series of dry stone walls known locally as “cheys”. The hillside is carved into narrow terraces, or “chaillées”, forming a type of stairway that secures the vines on its relatively flat steps.
To the north of the appellation, the Côte brune’s parcels lie atop a substrate composed of mica-schist. When these rocks degrade, they form less siliceous soils with a higher clay content, richer in iron oxyd + manganese and dark in colour. On the hillsides of the Côte brune or similar areas, there is more clay and therefore greater stability. The hillside shows less terraces and offers a stunning slope of about 100% (45° !).
Vineyards and grape varieties
The Guigal estate owns 75 Hectares of vineyards in the following Northern Rhône appellation: Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage.
Each appellation aims at expressing the best of Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne.
Guigal winery selects the very finest lots of the Southern such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Tavel and Côtes du Rhône. These wines are vinified in southern Rhône but aged and blended in the cellars of Ampuis.
The first cellars have been built in 1946 and the Guigal winery today is working on a surface of 3 hectares of cellars. The facility is impressive contains some 5.000 pieces for the traditional ageing of the northern Rhône wines, around 150 foudres (large barrels), etc… a place to discover for sure !
The viticultural approach has always been very respectful of the environment.
Moderate, controlled prevention against diseases and vine parasites allows the grapes cultivated on the estate to fully reveal the complexity of the terroirs. Therefore, sustainable organic viticulture would be our way to name our practices.
In the Northern part the average planting density is around 10.000 vines/ hectare while in the Southern it is around 6.000 feet/hectare, four different teams are responsible for the estate vineyards and work side by side. The steepness of these historical vineyards does not allow any type of machine.
Overall production volume: 7.200.000 bottles / year
2 ranges : “The collection” and “the Treasures”
The Treasures :
Cellar door information
The winery is open from Monday to Friday, apart from public holidays, from 8:00 AM 12:00PM and 2:00 PM to 6:00PM.
Visits only upon prior arrangement.
Groups from 15 to 20 people. Duration of visit approximately 2 hours. Annual closing August.