Parker's "Finest Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape EVER"
When Robert Parker's report on the 2007 wines of the southern Rhone hit the web, it would ignite the fastest selloff in Chateauneuf history. Almost every top name in town would take full advantage, emptying cellars in less than a month, then watching as prices climbed on the secondary market.
The sales velocity was so brisk that even the most famous name in the Rhone was obliged to reconsider his release strategy. For years, Philippe Guigal had done just as his father and grandfather had, allowing his prized Chateauneuf-du-Pape and his $500/bottle Cote Roties -- "La Landonne," "La Moline" and "La Turque" -- to age for a couple of years prior to release. But as Philippe read the report in which Parker would not only declare 2007 "the greatest vintage of his 30 year career," but Philippe's 2007 "the greatest ever from Guigal," he found himself openly questioning his family's strategy.
"Markets are capricious," we were told. "There's much to be said for striking while the iron is hot. Parker's 93-95pt score is the highest ever awarded to a Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape! Why not sell it all now?"
The question was a good one. Markets are indeed fickle. What's 'hot' one day is often forgotten the next. By sticking to his family's late-release protocol, Philippe Guigal risked walking away from Parker's 2007 cash flow bonanza -- a tough pill to swallow with the global economy in free fall.
First, Philippe went back to the Wine Advocate report, if only to revisit Parker's impeccable notes on that historic growing season. He couldn't suppress a smile as he again perused Parker's nouns and adjectives in Guigal's 93-95pt review. And only then did he make the call that no one in Chateauneuf-du-Pape save for the grandson of Marcel Guigal, could have possibly made. Philippe prepared to release his 2004 -- and ordered the entire stock of the voluptuous 2007 to be cellared for 28 months!
For those of you who were quick on the draw and stuffed your cellars with the extravagant 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Papes from Mordoree, Clos St. Jean, La Janasse. Xavier Vignon and Beaucastel, you know all about that miracle growing season. For those who might have missed the boat, here's a quick recap.
Simply put, the summer of 2007 was a vigneron's dream. From June, right up until the fall harvest, sun-baked soils of Chateauneuf barely saw a drop of rain. Guigal's old-vines, with their deep root structure, shrugged off the drought, quenching their thirst on deep underground water reserves. But even as the sun shined brightly, temperatures remained mild, and even more importantly, the Mistral gusted briskly, both cleaning and refreshing clusters. The harvest was conducted under perfect conditions -- gorgeous Indian summer, turquoise skies. Natural sugars were astounding.
The JUST-released 2007 Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape is brilliant purple in color. Juicy, youthful aromas of black fruit preserves and sweet herbes-de-Provence. Rich, high-toned and vibrant on the attack, packed with black cherry and blueberry, gaining weight after 20 minutes of oxygen. Cloaked in velour, the finish is finely honed and beautifully delineated, arguing eloquently -- as Parker did -- for a two decade slumber in a cool cellar.