Guigal   La Mouline   Cote Blonde

2004 La Mouline - Cote Blonde

By Guigal

2004 La Mouline - Cote Blonde from Guigal, Rhone, Rest of the World

In the empirical realm of wine connoisseurship, there inevitably arise vintages that redefine our expectations. The 2004 La Mouline - Cote Blonde from Guigal exudes such a transformative flair. Nestled in the heart of Rhone, Guigal painstakingly coaxes out the quintessence of its terroir, resulting in this stellar expression.


Anointment of the Ancient Terroir

Guigal’s vineyards, cradled by the undulating slopes and ancient, stony soils of Côte Rôtie, have for centuries been the crucible for compelling wines. The 2004 vintage stands as an archetypical representative, its innate elegance amplified by a year characterised by benign weather conditions that enabled optimal grape ripening. This is an investment grade wine that warrants serious consideration.


A Masterclass in Rhone Syrah

This symphony of Syrah and Viognier honours its varietal lineage with reverence. The 2004 La Mouline - Cote Blonde is a classic expression of Rhone Syrah; profound blackberry, cassis and smoked meat traits thread through a backdrop of white pepper and subtle herbaceous nuances. Despite its impressive concentration, it expertly maintains a pleasurable lightness, thanks to an invigorating etch of acidity.


Opulence tempered by Restraint

The 2004 vintage's maturation brought cohesion to its initially boisterous character, lending refined polish to the vibrant fruit core. Its mouth-coating density interplays delightfully with poised elegance, embodying both opulence and restraint in equal measures. Decade-long ageing has gracefully moulded this wine, with potential to entice for many more years.

Every encounter with the 2004 La Mouline - Cote Blonde from Guigal is akin to unearthing precious memories; they invite us to relive the symphony of that climatically remarkable year. Filled with character, complexity and collector appeal, this vintage demonstrates how wines can transcend into respected financial assets, and stand testimony to Guigal’s meticulous crafting of terroir-driven Rhone masterpieces.

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Scores and tasting notes


More open and evolved, yet still a textbook and perfumed example of the cuvee, the 2004 Cote Rotie la Mouline possesses beautiful spice, potpourri, pepper and cured meats to go with plenty of red and black fruit, medium to full-bodied richness and an overall beautifully balanced feel. Drinking nicely now, it has another 10 to 15 years of evolution. 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