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The E. Guigal 2000 Crozes-Hermitage reported in Monday's edition - a decent Northern Rhône Syrah at a $16 price tag a few dollars above many people's comfort level for everyday sipping - prompted me to take another look the same producer's slightly simpler but more affordable Côtes-du-Rhône.
Guigal ("Ghee-gahl"), a third-generation winemaker based in Ampuis in the Northern Rhône since 1946, owns relatively limited vineyards, winning respect for its relatively pricey estate-bottled Cote-Rotie La Mouline, La Turque and La Landonne and Condrieu La Doriane.
It is a much larger producer than grower, however, making more Cote-Rotie (Brune et Blonde) and Condrieu in its cellars as well as red and white Hermitage and the Crozes-Hermitage; Guigal also reaches to sources in the Southern Rhône for its Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and - in the greatest quantity and widest distribution - the more generic Côtes-du-Rhône.
Although I have been underwhelmed with the Côtes-du-Rhône in some vintages, the 2000 definitely passes muster, a hearty blend of Grenache (50 percent), Mourvedre (25 percent) and Syrah (25 percent) from 35-year-old vines, aged a year in oak casks and drinking very well indeed right now. At $10 or less at retail in most markets and widely discounted, it's hard to find a better dollar-for-value everyday red from the Rhône.E. Guigal 2000 Côtes-du-Rhône ($9.99)
This clear but dark garnet wine offers pleasant fresh-fruit aromas of berries and plums with fragrant black pepper. Ripe and full in flavor, it offers good, rich black fruit and appetizingly tangy acidity in balance. Not particularly complex, but all its parts are in the right places; a fine food wine. U.S. importer: Ex-Cellars Wine Agencies Inc., Solvang, Calif. (Oct. 2, 2002)
FOOD MATCH: Fine with roast chicken; the wine's fresh but not lightweight fruit makes a particularly appealing flavor match.
VALUE: Good value at $10 or less.
WEB LINKS: E. Guigal's home page is at
http://www.guigal.com/; click the national flag for your choice of French or English.
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Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.