In September-October last year, the Swedish importer of Guigal (Vinunic) hosted a series of three Guigal Masterclasses. I blogged about the white wine Masterclass a long time ago, a short time after it happened, and recently about the Masterclass featuring the red 2007s. So both that blog post and this one belong to the category “Tasting note lost and found”.
The vertical tasting of La Turque crowned the trio of Masterclasses, and included a dinner at the one star Stockholm restaurant Esperanto.
Guigal’s La Turque is one of their so-called “LaLa” wines from Côte-Rôtie. Stylistically, La Turque is the middle wine between the perfumed and smooth La Mouline, and the dark and tannic La Landonne. Since it made its debut with the 1985 vintage, it is the most recent addition to Guigal’s LaLas.
La Turque is a genuine vineyard wine from a very steep vineyard (inclination 60°-70°) of just over one hectare in the middle of the Côte Brune sector of Côte-Rôtie, straight above the village of Ampuis. The composition is approximately 93% Syrah and 7% Viognier. After have been run by a local vineyard owner, it laid fallow from the early 1960s and grew over. Remember that until the late 1970s, the Rhône wine didn’t attract that much attention outside their own part of France, and consequently wasn’t very easy to sell, so an abandoned vineyard in a good location wasn’t as strange as it sounds, if you consider that it is a difficult vineyard to work. The neighbouring vineyards of La Turque belonged to Marius Gentaz-Dervieux and Vidal-Fleury, and it was finally taken over by the latter. They replanted the vineyard in 1980, and in 1984 Guigal bought Vidal-Fleury, which meant that La Turque made its comeback as a Guigal wine. (This description is based on John Livingstone-Learmonth’s book The Wines of the Northern Rhône.)
Just as the other LaLa wines, La Turque sees 42 months in new oak.
Looking back at my notes, it looks like I was even more frugal than usual (and then it’s really bad) that evening. Perhaps the calibration of my palate wasn’t quite up to the challenge of being exposed to that many top wines without first tasting a simpler wine as reference, because when I read my own notes (which I consider more important than the score on its own) it’s obvious how much I liked the wines. I don’t see any point in trying to recalibrate my scores (such as adjusting all La Turque scores by +1 point) more than a year after the fact, so you’ll just get them the way I jotted them down that evening. In any case, the scores still show my order of preference at this tasting.
Note: these tasting notes are from October 2012!
2008 La Turque
Nose with cherries, strong flowery notes of violets, some liquorice, a hint of herbs, well integrated oak. Definitely elegant. Medium bodied(+), palate with slightly sweetish note, cherries and red berries, noticeably tart already in the attack, slightly spicy, medium tannins (well embedded in the fruit), mineral. The aftertaste is tart and fruity with slightly angular tannins. Young, the nose is better than the palate, 89-90+.
The 2008 shows a little lighter coloured notes than the 2007, and a slightly harder tannic structure. It is clearly a good and elegant wine for the vintage, which was a difficult one.
2007 La Turque
Nose with blackberries and dark cherries, notes of ripe berries with a sweetish impression, noticeably flowery with violets, some tar, well integrated oak. After a while in the glass, animal notes emerge. Definitely elegant. Full bodied(-), palate with blackberries, dark cherries, some tartness, powerful concentration of fruit, balsamico notes, medium+ tannins but rather soft and well integrated. Long, fruity and tart aftertaste. Rather young, but accessible, 93-94+.
2007 shows a little sweeter and darker notes in the nose compared to the 2008, and has a more soft tannic structure.
I scored the same wine 95+ a few weeks earlier, at the tasting of the 2007s, when I on the margin considered this to be the best of the three LaLas. My overall impression was rather similar, however, so this is mostly a sign of me setting low scores that evening.
2006 La Turque
Nose with dark berries including blackcurrants, some cherries, aromatic and flowery notes, spice, rather well integrated oak. Elegant. Full bodied(-), cherries, powerful concentration of fruit, some sweetness of fruit, some tartness with a hint of bitterness, medium+ tannins but rather soft and well integrated. Fruity and tart aftertaste. Young, reasonably approachable, some tendency to being closed/in a “dumb phase”? 92-93+
2006 is more spicy and less flowery than 2007 and 2008, and has a little more tannins than 2007. It shows some emerging mature notes and a bit more of a Bordeaux feeling.
2004 La Turque
Nose with cherries, some dark berries and sweet red berries, aromatic notes, slightly herbaceous with green notes. Elegant, the nose grew in the glass. Palate with rather ripe red berries including cherries, good concentration of fruit, some sweetness of fruit, some tartness, medium tannins, tart aftertaste with rather hard tannins. Young but approachable, on its way out of a “dumb phase”? 91-92+
The green notes in the nose clearly sets 2004 apart from the other vintages of the 2000s that were included in this tasting. It is a little lighter in style than 2006 and 2007, and considerably lighter than the two vintages it is sandwiched between, 2003 and 2005.
2005 La Turque
Nose with ripe dark berries, slightly sweetish but balanced fruity note, aromatic, mild spice, some balsamico, well integrated oak. Definitely elegant. Initially a bit discrete nose, but amplified in the glass. Full bodied, palate with cherries and dark berries, powerful concentration of fruit, powerful but well integrated and velvety tannins. Long aftertaste with tart fruit and polished tannins. Rather young, although accessible, but will gain from cellaring, 95+.
That the nose initially was rather discrete indicates that it is currently in a bit of “dumb phase”, which is what I had expected of any powerful red 2005 from any of the classical French wine regions, at 7 years of age. Tasting notes from when it was released indicate a more expressive nose at that time. The palate isn’t closed or “dumb” in the same way, so the wine was actually more accessible than I had expected.
By the way, this is a 100 point wine according to Parker, and he has indicated the drinking window as 2013-2043. Generally, I find him to indicate a rather early start of the drinking window compared to my preference, so I would rather wait until at least 10 years of age, at the earliest 2015, before attacking a bottle of this vintage with a corkscrew, and even then I would allow it several hours of decanting.
1996 La Turque
Nose with ripe cherries, slightly sweetish red berries and a hint of dark berries, rather flowery, some herbaceous nores, mild oriental spices, developed notes with a discrete animal note. Dominating berry aromas but rather noticeable development; quite elegant. Full bodied-, slightly sweetish fruit, ripe cherries, red and some dark berries, velvety tannins, mineral, some spice. Rather fully mature but still berry-dominated nose and palate, 94.
The first wine in the lineup with noticeable development in the nose.
1991 La Turque
Nose with sweetish and partially dried red berries with some dark berries, rather aromatic, mixed spice with allspice and rather mild oriental spices, animal notes with leather and some meat juices, well integrated oak. Fully mature nose, very elegant. Full bodied, palate with concentrated notes of cherries and dark berries with some red berries, velvety medium+ tannins that are very well integrated, some spice, long aftertaste with berries and balanced tannins. Elegant and well balanced, fully mature but still with berry aromas in the nose and on the palate, no hurry to drink up, 98.
Without any doubt the best wine this evening, with power and perfect ripeness in combination.
2003 La Turque
Sweetish nose av very ripe dark berries, flowery with violets, sweetish tar and liquorice notes, some oak. Powerful and young nose with elegance; rather makes me think of an elegant New World wine. Full bodied, palate with massive concentration of fruit, sweetish dark berries, peppery spice, some tartness, the alcoholic fire can be felt a little, the tannins are somewhat velvety but still rather tough. Fruity aftertaste with some toughness from the tannins. Young, but reasonably accessible, 94+.
This was the only vintage where the alcohol was noticeable. It is in a way a very impressive wine, but it comes across as atypical when tasted next to the other vintages. The very hot 2003 vintage has obviously made its mark on the wine, but this is the case for almost all French 2003s. I perceived the influence of the vintage on the wine style in exactly the same way when we recently tasted through all 15 vintages of 15 vintages of Guigal Château d’Ampuis (1995-2009), when the 2003 also was the only wine where I really noted the alcohol, and the hot character definitely made the wine differ from the rest.
The 2003 is also a 100-point wine according to Parker, but in general terms it is an odd and somewhat controversial vintage that is not held as high by classical noses as by fruit bomb lovers.
In summary: quite an amazing vertical of a true top wine! Neither 1991 nor 1996 showed any signs of becoming tired, which proves how long-lived these wines are. At the same time, the young vintages are rather accessible for a wine of this profile. The two latest vintages are accessible in the case of many great and well made wines, but then they tend to go into a “dumb phase” to emerge only at an age of 8-10 years, sometimes later. Against this background, the vintages 2003-2006 are surprisingly accessible, with 2005 the big surprise. I assume that it is the style of Guigal, combining sweet fruit and a long time in oak barrels, that contributes to this.
Below a video where Philippe Guigal presents the 2009 La Turque, which was released during 2013 and therefore didn’t feature in last year’s tasting, and says some things about La Turque in general:
Additional dinner wines
Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV
Champagne, grape varieties: 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier, of which 5% vinified in oak and 10% is reserve wine stored in oak. On the average 3 years of storage before being sold, and 10-11 g/l dosage.
Nose with citrus, yellow apple and peach. Palate with citrus, yellow fruit, good acidity, a hint of spice, grapefruit, fruity and fresh aftertaste. Rather young, but fully accessible, 88 p.
The Champagnes from Roederer, which are made from good grapes, usually give a rather fruity impression compared to some other good Champagne houses, which may be related to the fact that they are rather high in dosage (the maximum allowed for a Brut is 12 g/l sugar).
Nose with ripe pear, peach, white flowers, some spice, a hint of vanilla and some oak, mineral. Full bodied, oily palate with rather low acidity in the attack, ripe pears, noticeable mineral, spice, a hint of alcohol, and a hint of bitterness. Aftertaste with oily impression and mineral notes. Young, 91-92+
I scored the same wine 92+ at the tasting of the white Guigal wines, when we tasted the vintages 2008, 2009 and 2010 of La Doriane, and the 2009 came across as the best. In connection with that tasting I wrote some words on how I perceived the stylistic difference between the different wines.
Nose with cherries, some dark berries, slightly sweetish fruit, a hint of tar, some spice, some oak. Medium bodied, palate with cherries, decent concentration of fruit, rather good acidity, medium but slightly hard tannins. Young, 88-89+.
Also in this case a good wine in a difficult vintage, showing a lighter style in terms of concentration and slightly harder tannins than usual.
Vignes de l’Hospice is Guigal’s best Saint Joseph out of the three red wines produced from that appellation.
2009 Saint Joseph Vignes de l’Hospice
Grape variety: Syrah
Nose with concentrated dark berries, some tar and graphite powder, a hint of flowery notes. Full bodied(-), dark berries, ripe cherries, a hint of sweetness of fruit, rather present medium+ tannins, fruity and tannic aftertaste. The impression of sweetness is definitely kept in check. Young, 93+.
Tougher than typical 2009 Crozes-Hermitage, which were the Northern Rhône wines I had tasted the most of at this time.
The Swedish version here.