E. Guigal Cote-Rotie 2003 "Brune et Blonde"
Score: 93 - The Cote-Rotie French wine appellation is one of the world's most unusual and famous. Located on a hillside along the banks of the Rhone River in the South of France, its name in English literally means "roasted slope" due to the steep angle at which the vines face the sun. Because of this, the berries get plenty of direct sunlight, become super-ripe and take on an almost "roasted" character.
The wines are red, made with Syrah grapes and up to 20% Viognier, a white grape used for its aroma. According to appellation rules, Syrah and Viognier must be fermented at the same time, a process known as cofermentation. Cote-Rotie wine typically exhibits a combination of meat aromas (including bacon) from the "roasted" Syrah, and floral aromas from the Viognier.
This bottle, a 2003 produced by E. Guigal, was from one of the hottest vintages on record. The cuvee ("Brune et Blonde") refers to the iron-rich soil in the "Brune" (brown) vineyard, and the lighter-colored, gravelly soil in the "Blonde". Super-tight and monolithic upon opening, it began to unfold and reveal its mysteries after 90 minutes in decanter. It was jam-packed with cocoa, plum, fig paste and black olive notes, its bouquet was brick red, and its finish lasted for what seemed like an eternity.
Due to its high demand, Cote-Roties can be fairly expensive, but this is a good introduction to the genre at a reasonable price. Drink now through 2017.