Guigal   La Mouline   Cote Blonde

2003 La Mouline - Cote Blonde

By Guigal

The 2003 La Mouline - Cote Blonde from Guigal, Rhone

The 2003 vintage in Rhone was a landmark year, showcasing an unusual climatic situation which imparted unique contrasts on the noble Syrah grape. Heatwaves brought forward maturity while simultaneously preserving precious acidity, and in the hands of a master producer like Guigal, this has resulted in the esteemed 2003 La Mouline - Cote Blonde. Such unpredictable conditions spotlighted the resilient nature of Rhone, and thus fashioned this vintage into somewhat of a dark horse investment.


Adept Crafting Meets Unpredictable Climate

The Guigal estate exhibited its winemaking prowess by tempering its production techniques to accommodate an unusually warm vintage year. The outcome is a wine that celebrates its terroir but wears the imprint of its challenging creation - making it an alluring contender amongst wine investors.

The 2003 La Mouline - Cote Blonde from Guigal is a beautifully decadent affair. It conveys powerful notes of smoked plums and cocoa, underlined by whispers of exotic spice resulting from the year’s intense heat. Yet it isn’t entirely driven by opulence; appreciation lies in the articulation of subtle nuances that mirror the tale of its climatic challenges.


A Once In A Lifetime Vintage

Terroir and tradition speak loudly in Rhone Wine but seldom do they amplify the eccentricities exhibited by nature in 2003. Infrequent vintages like these are a phenomenon for fine wine investors, offering unique characteristics that elevate above typical vintage variations.

This chaos-induced harmony imbues the 2003 La Mouline - Cote Blonde with distinctive features setting it apart from its siblings; it is not merely courageous but also a testament to the triumph of adroit winemaking over a defiant climate.

Savvy investors understanding the interplay of climate, terroir and seasoned talent will no doubt see the value encased in this compelling Rhone offering. The 2003 La Mouline - Cote Blonde from Guigal is not just a vintage to be savoured but also treasured for its remarkable reflection of resilience and adaptation in face of climatic extremes - an elegant embodiment of the extraordinary wine that Rhone can produce under pressure.

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A desert island wine (as is just about any top vintage of the cuvee) and a gorgeous showing, the 2003 Cote Rotie la Mouline is drinking beautifully, yet is still young, loaded with fruit, and possesses over-the-top richness. Giving up notions of plum, liquid flowers, potpourri and smoked meats, this puppy is full-bodied, massive and layered on the palate, with a stacked mid-palate, thrilling amounts of texture, and a blockbuster-styled finish. There’s nothing classic about it, but it’s still as good as it gets. One of the reference point estates for top quality wines in the world today, the family run Guigal operation was created in 1946 by Etienne Guigal. Today, Etienne’s son, Marcel, and his son Philippe, are firmly in control here, and are without a doubt producing some of the most singular, sought after wines in the world. Due to the size of this tasting, I’ll keep my comments short, but the incredible quality coming from this operation is astounding, and a tasting here is always one of the highlights of any trip through the region. Furthermore, while a lot is said about the extended oak aging regime here, I don’t know anyone who tastes mature examples of these wines on a regular basis that still has any doubts about the genius going on here. In short, these single vineyard (and their blends as well) Cote Roties are some of the greatest wines money can buy. For this tasting (which, with the Guigals, is always a large one!), we focused on their Saint Joseph Vignes des Hospice release, and then three of their Cote Roties, starting with the classic Brune et Blonde, then the Chateau d’Ampuis, and finishing with their single vineyard La Mouline. Looking first at their Saint Joseph Vignes des Hospices release, it comes all from the incredibly steep (and picturesque) vineyard perched just above the town of Tournon. The exposure here (which is critical for Saint Joseph as the more southern facing the plot, the warmer the site is) is mostly east facing and the soils are pure granite (identical to the decomposed granite found in the Les Bessards lieu-dit on Hermitage Hills). Compared to the Saint Joseph lieu-dit, which has a slightly more southern exposure, harvest here is always 5-7 days later. Moving north to Côte Rôtie, the Guigal’s Brune et Blonde is their entry level release that comes from a mix of vineyards, most of which are estate. It drinks beautifully on release and has a solid 15-20 years of longevity in top vintages. Stepping up over the Brune et Blonde, the Cote Rotie Chateau d’Ampuis is named after the Chateau d’Ampuis estate (which lies in the town of Ampuis, right up along the Rhone River, and was purchased by the Guigal’s in 1995) and is a blend of their top estate vineyards. Coming from La Garde, Le Clos, Grande-Plantee, Pommiere, Pavillon, Le Moulin and La Viria, it spends close to four years in new French oak (handled just like the single vineyard releases) and there’s roughly 30,000 bottles produced in each vintage. While the single vineyard releases get all the buzz, this is isn’t far behind in quality, especially in recent vintages, and can represent an incredible value. We finished the tasting with a vertical of La Mouline. One of the three single vineyard Cote Roties produced, this cuvee comes all from the La Mouline lieu-dit that’s located in the more western (close to the middle actually) side of appellation. For simplicities sake, you could say it’s in the Cote Blonde part of the region, but in reality, Cote Rotie is much more complex and diverse. Due to its exposure, this vineyard is always the first of the three single vineyards to be harvest, and also contains some of the oldest vines on the estate. Fermented using pump overs (as opposed to punch downs for the La Torque and submersion cap on the La Landonne), it’s cofermented with varying degrees of Viognier, which in most vintages, ends up being around 10% of the blend. Like the Chateau d’Ampuis and the other two single vineyard releases, it sees close to four years in 100% new French oak, of which every trace integrates after a few years in bottle. It’s always the most approachable of the single vineyard releases, and is ready to drink at an earlier stage. For example, the 1999 La Mouline is gloriously mature, while the 1989 La Torque is still an infant. Nevertheless, as the 1978 reviewed here attests to, it has no problem evolving for decades (although I don’t recommend holding bottles that long). In short, this was a flight of Côte Rôties I’ll not forget anytime soon! Importer: Vintus Wines, Pleasantville, NY; tel. (914) 769-3000

Jeb Dunnuck - The Wine Advocate, 27 August 2014

Vintage performance