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Parker 100 point: The 1976 is even thicker, richer, and more jammy than some of the other great vintages of La Mouline. In essence, it is something between a dry red table wine and a vintage port. Of course it is not sweet, but it is so concentrated; one simply does not see wines such as this except for 1947 Petrus or 1947 Cheval Blanc. The wine has thrown a couple of ounces of sediment. It offers a heavenly bouquet of sweet, floral-infused black-raspberry/cassis fruit. Extremely unctuous and viscous, with mind-boggling concentration, this wine has always been exceptional to drink, but it continues to defy the aging curve. I have drunk my last bottle, so I am dependent on friends for future tastings. This is one of the legendary wines of the century! Anticipated maturity: now-2007. Last tasted 7/96.
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.