In 1946 Étienne Guigal created the eponymously named wine house E Guigal. He oversaw a renaissance of the great Grand Cru appellation Côte-Rôtie, which had been almost abandoned. He built his reputation around two extraordinary Côte-Rôtie cuvees, the exquisitely structured La Landonne and the velvety, finessed La Mouline. In 1985 the polished yet boisterous La Turque was introduced, cementing the success of the house. These three wines make up the holy trinity of the Northern Rhone; La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque are all single estate vineyards and have been collectively coined as the La Las. Guigal has received more 100 point ratings for his La Las from Robert Parker than any other wine producer. La Landonne had seven perfect scores from 1985 to 2005, La Mouline nine from 1976 to 2005 and La Turque five from 1985 to 2005. In 2009 all three La Las scored a perfect 100 points.
In 1961 Marcel Guigal, the son of Étienne, took over the Estate and is now considered one of the greatest wine-makers in the world, unequivocally demonstrating that Côte-Rôtie must be present in the pantheon of the world’s leading wines. Parker has perhaps more admiration for the Guigals than any other wine-making family: ‘The importance of a wine’s upbringing (or, as the French call it, elevage) is the key to understanding the entire Guigal locomotive. No one does it better; no one has done it longer; and no one seems to have the Midas touch for putting the wines in the bottle at precisely the right moment to capture the essence of a wine before it begins to fade or lose its vibrancy.’
The broadening of the wine market has been a major driver behind our investment philosophy over the last two years. The switch of market sentiment from Bordeaux 18 months ago to Burgundy was an obvious substitution of brands. The steep rise of Super Tuscan wine followed, replicating the great wines of Bordeaux, with a touch of Italian sun. The Northern Rhone is narrower in terms of investment grade wines, yet Guigal’s La Las, along with Chapoutier’s La Meal and Paul Jaboulet’s La Chapelle certainly are considered such. Guigal’s La Las have been the highest scoring and most consistent of all of these and over the last five years have achieved 8% compound annual growth rate. They have also experienced an increase in liquidity with Liv-ex reporting that the Rhone has recently seen 6% of total monthly trading, five times more than the average in 2011.
The perfect scoring 100 point La Las are some of the most sought after wines in the world, yet the combined three single vineyard plots produce a meagre 1,500 cases, making them virtually unobtainable in older vintages. They each scored 100 points in 1999, 2003 and 2005, we have compared the prices of these vintages below. It is clear that the 2009s have a lot of head room compared to the older vintages, priced 33% below the 1999s, 27% below the 2003s and 9% below the 2005s. We posit therefore that the 2009s will benefit from the brand’s average yearly returns and the older vintage premium evident in these wines, something less apparent in Bordeaux.