Wine of the Year-2002
In a year of economic uncertainty, Wine Spectator
honors a wine that combines outstanding quality with fair price and
wide availability. Rhône vintner Marcel Guigal marries the grower's
craft with the blending art of the négociant. His 1999 E. Guigal
Châteauneuf-du-Pape reflects this mastery, and so earns the
distinction of Wine of the Year.
Few wine producers in the world rival Guigal's ability
to deliver both quality and value at all price points. The 1999 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
falls in the middle of Guigal's range. To produce it, Guigal and his
son work with brokers and growers, who ship samples to Guigal headquarters
in the Northern Rhône town of Ampuis. Selection is ruthless,
says Philippe. Out of 30 to 40 samples received, only one might be
retained for the Châteauneuf blend.
The Châteauneuf-bound wines are kept separate
from one another in Guigal's cellar, where they age for nearly two
years before being blended and bottled. The 1999 wines were aged in
new 1,600-gallon foudres, or oak vats, that were installed following
an expansion of the winery, says Philippe.
It is a tribute to Guigal's perfectionism that he
unearthed enough fine wine to produce an outstanding Châteauneuf
in 1999, which was but a very good vintage for the region overall
(87 points on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale).
Guigal's 1999 is a complex wine that reflects Châteauneuf-du-Pape's
distinctive combination of fruit, wet earth, game, leather and mineral
flavors. Its depth and character come primarily from a large quantity
of old-vine Grenache (70 percent of the blend); the remainder comprises
20 percent Syrah, 5 percent Mourvèdre and 5 percent other varieties
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