Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2005

What with a couple of Barossa Grenache/Shiraz blends under my belt in the last few days, I thought it was time to return to the source with this reasonably priced wine. For a large production wine, the Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge seems to attract its fair share of enthusiasts’ attention. It has a reputation for over-delivering at its price point, and of responding well to some bottle age.

I tasted over two nights, as it was somewhat impenetrable initially and remained so through the first evening. Tonight, it’s still quite dense and brooding, but is revealing enough of its character to facilitate enjoyment and, more pertinently for me, explication. A nose that is both floral and inky, with black fruits, some very ripe black pepper and prickly, appealing minerality or perhaps tar. It’s all very tight and coiled, yet seems to me well balanced (for what it is).

The palate initially promises more generosity, and in a sense delivers this, but fundamentally remains quite tight. Wisps of sweet black fruit escape the wine’s predominantly savoury flavour profile before being dragged back into a mêlée of tar, pepper and puckeringly dry tannin. Before the tannin takes over, though, a silky smooth mouthfeel briefly registers and promises fine textural development. Flavour is reassuringly intense, and the structure seems especially well sorted, with good continuity throughout the wine’s line, and a lengthy, dry finish.

Despite its youth, I’m enjoying the quality and elusiveness of this wine and am contemplating the purchase of a few bottles to cellar over the medium (to perhaps long?) term. I want to see what unfolds with the persuasiveness of time.

E. Guigal
Price: $A19
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: October 2008

Château de Montfaucon Baron Louis Côtes du Rhône 2004

I like a good Côtes du Rhône and, of all French wines, they are often the best QPR option if you are looking for something Old World to add variety to your choice of local quaffers. This one is an excellent example of the genre.Transparent ruby with purple edges, moderate density. The nose here is really interesting. It’s pretty but also rustic and savoury in character. Licorice allsorts, clean raspberry, dried herbs, pepper and earth wrapped in a subtle but enticing package. There’s a lot going on in here and it’s quite seamless and lightfooted. There’s good depth of flavour, which is increasing the longer the wine sits in glass, but it’s not a forbidding wine by any means. The other half suggested a bit of mould/wet hessian character that I wasn’t picking up. The entry has good impact, with flavour kicking in towards the front of the tongue and spreading sideways to coat generously. The mid-palate reveals a medium bodied wine of gentle acid and real generosity of flavour. Here’s a trick: the wine is full of flavour, yet balanced and easygoing too, with genuine complexity. Notes on the palate are very similar to the nose, with the red fruit asserting itself more prominently, and the pepper gaining impact via very fine yet drying tannins that kick in quite early on. There’s also a bit of coffee/vanilla oak that subtly supports the fruit flavour. The wine’s structure is nicely sorted, with the acid dovetailing into the tannins very elegantly and creating an excellent frame for the fruit. The after palate becomes progressively more spicy, and ends in a drying finish of good length. What a lovely wine. It’s exotic and reminds me of warm turned earth and flowers. We had this wine with barbecued meats and it was an excellent match. A very good value for what it is. It’s drinking well now but I’m going to leave the remaining bottles for a few years to see how the wine shows with softer, more integrated tannins.Château de MontfauconPrice: $A28Closure: CorkDate tasted: January 2008

MonRedon Côtes du Rhône 2003

Generic Côtes du Rhône reds can often make a nice change to the usual mid-week wines. Here’s one from the problematic 2003 vintage, coming in at the $A20 mark.

A transparent garnet, bright, attractive, with some signs of bricking at the rim. The nose is extroverted and fruit driven, if a bit simple. Bright, somewhat confected red fruits and floral notes are the dominant theme, with some  gamey, meaty characters adding complexity.

The entry is a little weak and it’s only on the middle palate that flavours really expand and become generous. The wine is medium to light bodied, again with bright, sweet and slightly confected fruit flavours. Mouthfeel is soft and easy, with enough structure to keep the wine from lapsing into flabbiness, but only just. Alcohol heat pokes out a bit. The after palate thins out fairly quickly, and the wine’s finish is not truncated, but neither is it remarkable.

This wine’s a bit middling in most respects, but it’s also flavourful and very easy to drink. Value for money is always a bit hard when it comes to wine, as it can be difficult to put a price on variety and difference. If you’re bored of local quaffers and would like a change, this certainly fits the bill at a reasonable price. In absolute quality terms, though, there are any number of local wines that beat the pants of this wine at the same price point.

Château Mont-Redon
Price: $A20
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: November 2007