Parker 100 points: As long-time readers know, I have given a disproportionate number of perfect scores to Guigal's Cote Roties. And guess what? Guigal's current releases, the 1988s, all merit perfect scores. I thought they were potentially perfect from cask, and now that they are in the bottle I have to believe that they are Guigal's most successful wines since his 1978s. They are even richer than the extraordinary 1985s, and more concentrated than the magnificent 1983s.
La Mouline contains the highest percentage of Viognier of the three Guigal single vineyards. The amount can vary, but it is usually between 8-12%. This gives La Mouline the most intense perfume of the trio. While the color is always a dark ruby/purple, La Mouline will never be as black as La Landonne, which is made from 100% Syrah, or La Turque, which may include a small percentage of Viognier. La Mouline is the most seductive of the three wines when young, offering a sweet, chewy, multi-textured style that is impossible to resist. It is also the least ageworthy. While vertical tastings have proven that La Mouline will easily keep for 15-20 years, it can easily be drunk when it is released. La Mouline also comes from Guigal's oldest vineyard, with vines that are over 75 years in age.
Guigal's Cote Roties, particularly the single vineyard wines, are exceptional wines. They offer extraordinary flavor intensity, impeccable purity, and awesome length and complexity. The yields from the three vineyards - La Mouline, La Landonne, and La Turque - rarely exceed two tons per acre. Moreover, no one harvests any later. That the wines spend nearly three and one-half years in 100% new oak tells you something about the level of extraction Guigal is able to achieve. While the oak is noticeable for 1-2 years after bottling, anyone who has tasted the 1985s, 1983s, 1982s, 1980s, or 1978s would be hard-pressed to find evidence of new oak. The level of fruit extraction in these wines literally soaks up the oak, making them all the more structured and complex. While all three wines share phenomenal concentration and marvelous perfumes, they could not be more different.
The wine spends 42 months in new small oak casks and is bottled without fining or filtration
La Mouline is a steeply terraced amphitheater on the Côte Blonde, a shape that shelters the 2.5 acre site from the wind and acts as a heat trap. Soils are gneiss with lightly colored silicone containing limestone loess. The site is planted to 89% Syrah and 11% Viognier, with the two varieties picked together and co-fermented. This extra dose of Viognier gives La Mouline its telltale aromatic complexity and additional softness and roundness; it is often called the most feminine of Guigal’s Côte-Rôties.
La Mouline is historically the oldest vineyard in Cote-Rotie, with walls dating back 2,400 years, and today its vines are the oldest in the region, averaging 90 years of age, with the oldest dating back to plantings in the 1890s, just after phylloxera. Acquired in 1966, this was Guigal’s first single-vineyard Côte-Rôtie.
The wine sees traditional pumpovers, and alcoholic fermentation and maceration last around 4 weeks. Aging is for 42 months in new oak barrels made at the Chateau d’Ampuis cooperage.
In order to enhance quality the Guigals worked to acquire ownership in vineyards. Purchased in 1965, the just under one-hectare La Mouline plantation, which is located on the slopes of Côte Blonde, set the stage for the Guigals’ present reputation. Introduced the very next year, the La Mouline single-vineyard proved to be a smashing success, and the active acquisition of vineyards continued. However, it would be more than 10 years before the Guigals introduced their next single-vineyard wine, the La Landonne, in 1978. Just over 2 hectares in size, the plot was purchased piece by piece from 17 different small-scale growers.
The Guigals finally revealed their true greatness in 1984 when they acquired the oldest winemaker in the Rhône, Etienne’s former employer, Vidal-Fleury. This significant acquisition instantly made the Guigals the leading producer in the Côte-Rôtie region, giving them a 35% share of the entire region’s output. This new acquisition also gave the Guigals ownership of Vidal-Fleury’s La Turque plot. Introduced in 1985, the La Turque cemented Guigal’s reputation as one of the most prestigious producers of single-vineyard wines in the Rhône. The single-vineyard wines gave the Guigals the authority that helped them to profile their production from the Côtes-du-Rhône wines on. This is how Guigal evolved into the region's leading commercial AOC brand, whose only real contender is, for the time being, Paul Jaboulet Ainé.