Wine Spectator is a pretty stingy and well-respected wine publication. So when they give any region a 99-point preliminary score for a vintage… well you know you have something very special. That’s exactly what happened for the 2016 vintage in the Southern Rhone. Famous consultant Philippe Cambie mixed no words when he declared, “2016 has tannin, fruit, freshness and power. It’s the best vintage of my life.”
With a damp winter leading to late flowering and then essentially perfect conditions throughout spring and summer, the crop was large and very healthy in 2016. Virtually ever winery got to be choosy with their fruit, only using the best fruit, and dropping the rest. Throughout the entire south of France, the collective quality has never sniffed these heights.
Of course, within the Rhone, there is nobody as world renowned for quality and excellence as Etienne Guigal. The winery is easily one of the most recognizable, with their single-vineyard Côte-Rôties fetching nearly $1,000/btl and always receiving massive scores. Every year their wines are sensational across the board – but in a dream year like 2016, their Gigondas is so freaking good, it shames and even outpoints CDPs that cost three and four times the price!
Unsurprisingly, all four major critics who got their hands on a bottle went wild. Wine Enthusiast gave it a 93-point Editors’ Choice review where they declared: “Gravitas and structure set apart Guigal’s 2016 Gigondas from its more zaftig peers.” Wine & Spirits had similar praise. But the Wine Advocate’s former French editor, Jeb Dunnuck was not to be outdone, calling the wine, “drop-dead gorgeous” and “the Best Gigondas ever from Guigal” in his rave 95-point review.
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95 Points, Jeb Dunnuck
“The finest effort I’ve tasted from this estate’s Gigondas, their 2016 is a drop-dead gorgeous wine.. Loads of framboise, lavender, garrigue, and hints of game emerge from this sweetly fruited, full-bodied, powerful yet elegant. It’s beautiful wine and I continue to believe that 2016 is one of the greatest vintages ever (if not the greatest) for the Southern Rhône. You can drink this beauty any time over the coming 15-20 years.”
93 Points (Editors’ Choice), Wine Enthusiast
This wine is sourced from vines averaging 40 years old and matured two years in oak (50% new). Gravitas and structure set apart Guigal’s 2016 Gigondas from its more zaftig peers. A delicately smoky, peppery blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, it offers blackberry and plum flavors that are ripe yet piercing. It’s muscular and sharply edged, marked by brisk acidity and lingering hints of tobacco leaf, earth and clove. Approachable now, the wine should improve through 2030.
93 Points, Wine & Spirits
Like all of Guigal’s wines, this was treated to extended aging in house-coopered barrels. The two years it spent in wood seems to have preserved the freshness of the fruit: The flavors are herbal and spicy, with bright tart-cherry flavors deepening to marasca cherry. It feels full and lively, layered and elegant, delicious now and structured to age well over the next five to ten years.
92 Points, Parker’s Wine Advocate
Guigal’s 2016 Gigondas offers up a luscious mouthful of pomegranate and raspberry fruit. Sourced from higher elevations within the appellation, it’s full-bodied and velvety, but it retains a paradoxical sense of lightness and remains easy to drink, adding hints of garrigue on the finish.