E. Guigal takes its name from Etienne Guigal, who founded the estate in 1946. Marcel Guigal, Etienne’s son, took over the estate in 1961 when Etienne became disabled, and today the estate is run by Marcel, his son and wife. Considered one of the most outstanding producers of the Rhone Valley, the 109-acre estate is located in Ampuis, in the Northern Rhone Valley. Organic grape growing combined with late harvesting and low yields all help shape the wines, which include Cote Rotie, Ermitage red and white, and Condrieu. Robert M. Parker Jr. has called the estate’s Cote Rotie consistently “mind boggling,” and has noted that the “quality and distinctiveness of each (Guigal) wine is equaled in few other cellars in the world.” Vineyards are planted to Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussane. About 65,000 bottles are produced annually.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the appellation, is a large area of nearly 8,000 vineyard acres centered around the picturesque town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Located in southeastern France just north of the Avignon hills, the name of the appellation means “new castle of the pope” and it is a reference to the 14th century, when the Popes of Avignon built summer homes in the Southern Rhone Valley. Today the appellation is one of the most renowned in France and its terroir is known for layers of small pebbles, called “galets.” The stones in the soil are thought to help store heat and keep the soil warm, which helps ripen the grapes. The stones also help keep the soil from drying out in hot summer months. In 1923 Châteauneuf-du-Pape was a leader in establishing the idea that AOC wines in France should be made only with specified grapes, and the appellation allowed 13 grape varieties to be used. Since then the rules have been slightly modified to include several more allowable grapes. Red and white wines are produced, though in practice about 97% of all Châteauneuf –du-Papes are reds made with a blend of Grenache Noir, Cinsault, Counoise, Mourvedre, Muscardine, Syrah and Vaccarese. The red wines of this appellation are prized for being big, rich, spicy and full-bodied. White wines of the appellation are made with Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Picpoul and Picardin. Whites are floral, fruity and relatively full-bodied.