Guigal Cote Rotie Chateau dAmpuis 2016

Guigal Cote Rotie Chateau dAmpuis 2016
(97) The 2016 Côte Rôtie Château D’Ampuis tastes like a mini La Turque… it’s another rock star vintage from this cuvée. JEB DUNNUCK

I’ll say it again, this estate is producing some of the most incredible and singular wines in the world. JEB DUNNUCK

2016: Balance, Elegance and Precision – From the beginning, even prior to harvest, it was clear that 2016 would be marked by elegance far more than power. Now that the wines have had a chance to settle down and find their footing, that has been confirmed – emphatically so. The wines show bright acidity thanks to a late, cool start to the growing season and an equally cool late summer. Beautiful weather marked the lead-up to harvest and continued into October, which allowed leisurely harvesting of fully ripe fruit with healthy pH and tannin levels. The resulting wines possess plenty of depth and more than adequate structure to ensure long, graceful aging curves. There’s more red fruit character than usual on display, especially when compared to the 2015s and, especially, the 2017s. These are elegant wines, not bruisers, and, in many cases, especially from Côte-Rôtie, many come across as nothing less than Burgundian in style, which the old-timers will tell you is the quality that made the appellation’s name and reputation in the first place. JOSH RAYNOLDS

As it is with every release of these wines, in the last five or so vintages, the Chateau d’Ampuis is perhaps the best wine being produced by Guigal these days. Wait, let me finish. There is no question that the singles are amazing and I always lean towards individual site wines as a preference so I can see them over a long period of time and try to “understand” a little more of the place throughout a number of seasons. Yes they produce a lot of wines and their “basic level” Cote Rotie’s and Hermitage are super for the hierarchy and comparative value. Yup, Condrieu is even great.

Where d’Ampuis pushes to the front of the pack is that it is now in a very similar quality spectrum as the La Las (and I do wonder if perhaps a little extra love is heaped on the La Las out of tradition or maybe nostalgia?). In 2016 I think it is probably punching above a lot of previous years of some of the singles I have tasted, and I have been very fortunate to have been able to drink a lot of these over many years.

With the quality now approaching the peak of what is possible in the region combined with the fact its less than one third of the La Las and a fraction of the price of some of the other rivals in the region, and that the wine can still be purchased in sensible quantities, these factors all lead me to make that claim. It’s astonishingly good and you can buy six of them for less than the price of two La Las (if you can even find any of them), put them in your cellar and drink them over a period of time and enjoy their evolution.

Like Dunnuck says “Readers that love classic Côte Rôtie should buy this by the case”. I couldn’t agree more. Buy six, twelve, twenty four, however much you can or you want, put it in the cellar and wait for the time you can open one and take a deep dive in to the hedonistic pleasure that great, mature Guigal can deliver.

As to the actual wine. This thing is such a killer, it feels like you should hear Arnie in the background saying “come with me if you want to live” when you pull the cork. The best vintage of this wine I have ever tasted. After the hugely concentrated and muscular 2015 this is a terrific return to the kind of wines I love to see from Cote Rotie. I love the airy aromatics that unfurl with, an extended, decant. All blue and red fruit with boysenberry and vanilla swirling through. Plenty of grip and power but it’s well pitched and feels more confident, rather than bullish as the 15 did at times. The long elevage characters are there but they fit in nicely with the rest of the elements, forming a slick and polished package. I would love to see it in a decade, or three.

As always this is THE wine to grab from Guigal and the 2016 is not to be missed.

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