Guigal La Las are the greatest wines of the appellation Cote Rotie and in Robert Parker’s opinion the entire Northern Rhone, he has awarded more 100 points to Guigal’s La Las than any other wines. The La Las are hugely sought after on release. Guigal make two other truly remarkable red wines, their Ex Voto and Chateau d’Ampuis. Guigal purchased the famous Chateau d’Ampuis in 1995, an ancient fort built in the 12th Century and transformed it into a Renaissance chateau in the 16th century style. In fact the Chateau is cited amongst great Cote Rotie vines and bordered by the Rhone River itself. It has become the headquarters of the Guigal Estate, while the cellars and offices remain in the small village of Ampuis.
What is most interesting it is that around this privileged site the famed La La vineyards’, La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque herald. Yet, alongside these three world famous single vineyard plots, Guigal owns seven other ancient plots which represent the best terrior of their estate, each touching the vineyards of the La Las. The single vineyards of Le Grande Plantee, Le Clos and Le Garde surround La Mouline; La Pavillon Rouge, Le Moulin and La Pommiere surround La Turque and La Viria sits to the east of La Landonne. The vineyards around La Mouline have an average age of 80 years and contain a significant percentage of Viognier. The vines touching La Turque have a similar age, while La Viria was re-planted in 2000. It is also extraordinary to think there is only 600 metres that separate all of these vineyards.
These outstanding single vineyards are vinified and aged separately in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for four weeks and 38 months in a combination of 100% new French Barrique and Foudres. The final Blend of d’Ampuis is 93% Syrah and 7% Viognier and only 2,000 cases are produced each year, roughly equivalent to the La Las taken together.
Guigal Château d’Ampuis currently occupies a very interesting position. Guigal believes it has a similar potential as the La Las, however the market up until five years ago believed it straddled the La Las and Guigal’s Brune et Blonde. Guigal maintain d’Ampuis as an alternative to the La Las, as it is a blend of single vineyards in much the same way as Luciano Sandrone approaches Cannubi Boschis and La Vigne, with the latter being a blend of four vineyards and in fact outscoring Cannubi Boschis in 2010. All this means that Guigal are putting a lot of marketing weight behind d’Ampuis and while the market is quickly realising its quality, it is still the new kid on the block and is priced as such, for now, but not for long.
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