2016 Saint-Joseph Blanc, Lieu-Dit, E. Guigal, Northern Rhône, France. £48, Laithwaites, 020-7407 6378.
I tasted the new releases from pioneering Rhône heavyweights Guigal the other day and it was business as usual until I encountered the cheeky 2016 Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc (about £12.99, PortlandWine.co.uk, NobleGreenWines.co.uk, LokiWine.co.uk). The new vintage of this justly revered white-wine classic is absolutely terrific.
A complex blend, with viognier leading the way, this is an ethereal treat that brings a completely new flavour palette into play for the adventurous wine drinker. It has mild exoticism and dramatic acidity in equal measure.
Job done? Not so, because the very next wine completely blew my palate away. One step above Marcel Guigal’s standard St-Jo Blanc is his monumental Lieu-Dit creation. Using old-vine marsanne, from the former Grippat estate that Guigal now owns, augmented with dramatic roussanne, this is a wine with extraordinarily lofty ambitions. It is fermented in both new and one-year-old barrels and this brings a stunning, faint gingerbread note to the already luscious, pear and quince-smooched fruit. I am certain that this is the finest St-Jo Blanc I have ever encountered.
Superficially, the label and stunning etched bottle add immeasurably to this wine’s class – trumpeting its glory long before you satiate your palate with its sumptuous flavours. It has only just arrived in the country and the only merchant is Laithwaites, so do not delay. This is a game-changer for this oft-ignored appellation.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).