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A family-owned merchant-grower based at Ampuis, côte rôtie, in the northern rhône. Although established as recently as 1946 by Étienne Guigal, Établissements Guigal is the most famous of any of the Rhône valley's merchants or growers with collectors and investors. This is very largely due to the efforts of its manager since 1961, Étienne's only son Marcel, a man of exceptional modesty and a gifted, meticulous winemaker. Guigal owns slightly more than 20 ha/50 acres of prime vineyard in Côte Rôtie, and it was the wines made from three of its best parcels, extravagantly praised by influential American wine writer Robert parker in the early to mid 1980s, that first drew international attention to Marcel Guigal. It would be fair to say that the quality of Guigal's top wines, along with Parker's persistent enthusiasm for them among many other Rhône wines, spearheaded a resurgence of interest in the whole region.
Guigal's so-called cru wines (La Mouline, La Landonne, and La Turque) are dark, dramatic, mouth-fillingly rich and oaky expressions of the syrah grape (supplemented by up to 11 per cent of co-planted viognier in the case of La Mouline); made from low yields of very ripe, late-picked fruit aged for three and a half years in 100 per cent new oak, and bottled without fining or filtration. They are particularly impressive when young and their quality is beyond question, but opinions are divided about their style; purists in particular feel that their character is masked by excessive oak. Reputation and rarity combined (only 400 to 700 cases of each are made each year) have also made them extremely expensive and therefore game for criticism, fair or not. More recent offerings include the more plentiful Côte Rôtie Ch d'Ampuis, La Doriane, a special condrieu, and, from the 2000 vintage, Ermitage Ex Voto. Because of the ballyhoo over his top wines, it is easy to overlook the fact that Guigal's négociant wines, made substantially from bought-in grapes, are also very good and deservedly popular.
In 1984 Guigal bought and revitalized the firm of Vidal Fleury, the company where Étienne Guigal worked for 15 years before founding his own. Vidal Fleury is run quite independently of Guigal although Marcel, helped increasingly by his son Philippe, makes its Côte Rôtie wines.