2006 Guigal Ermitage Ex-Voto Blanc


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(bottled in February of 2009) Deep yellow. Exotically perfumed bouquet of wild, herb-laced tropical and pit fruits, with notes of licorice and dried fig emerging with air; reminds me of an old Chartreuse. Deep, chewy and very rich, with gently sweet apricot, peach and dried pear flavors and notes of botanical herbs. Smoky, surprisingly nervy mineral and floral notes carry through a long, sappy, penetrating finish. I'd serve this powerful wine with a preparation of chicken and mushrooms or truffles.
Josh Raynolds - Vinous
The Brief
How's it taste?
L'Ermitage Ex-Voto white is produced only in exceptional vintages. It is remarkably aromatic and complex. The nose is bursting with acacia flowers, honey and toasted notes.
The Who
Critic Reviews
Expert Review
Expert Review
94 Points
Josh Raynolds - Vinous
(bottled in February of 2009) Deep yellow. Exotically perfumed bouquet of wild, herb-laced tropical and pit fruits, with notes of licorice and dried fig emerging with air; reminds me of an old Chartreuse. Deep, chewy and very rich, with gently sweet apricot, peach and dried pear flavors and notes of botanical herbs. Smoky, surprisingly nervy mineral and floral notes carry through a long, sappy, penetrating finish. I'd serve this powerful wine with a preparation of chicken and mushrooms or truffles.
Expert Review
Expert Review
93 Points
Robert Parker - Wine Advocate
The 2006 Hermitage Ex-Voto Blanc reveals nearly the same character, but there is slightly more Roussanne (15%) in the final blend. It is thick and unctuously textured, with mouth-searing levels of acidity. These limited production wines with extraordinary power and intensity are as compelling as any dry white available anywhere in the world!As always, a tasting at Guigal is an opportunity to receive several years’ worth of wine education in one day (that’s how long it takes to go through all the bottles and barrels). Marcel Guigal is obviously a brilliant businessman, but most importantly, he understands vineyards, how to get maximum quality from them, and how to make wines, at all different price levels. From his Cotes du Rhones to Cote Roties, these wines are as good as one is likely to find. When I first visited Guigal nearly thirty years ago, this was a relatively small firm. Today, his may be the most successful wine operation in France. Guigal attributes his success to hard work and never being satisfied with the status quo. He pays the highest prices of any negociant for the fruit used to fashion his Cotes du Rhone as well as other negociant wines. He has also been extraordinarily adept at buying fabulous terroirs, as evidenced by his purchase of the De Vallouit properties in Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage as well as Grippat’s top-notch vineyard holdings in St.-Joseph. Along with the late Thomas Jefferson, Guigal has always believed that white Hermitage is France’s greatest white wine. With his recent acquisitions of superb vineyard sites, he is hell-bent on proving to the world that Jefferson was correct – that white Hermitage is an amazing as well as long-lived wine. In top vintages, two cuvees are produced, the regular offering (usually a blend of primarily Marsanne with a touch of Roussanne) and the luxury cuvee called Ex-Voto, which is generally 95% Marsanne and 5% Roussanne from two stunning vineyards. Eighty percent comes from Les Murets (regarded as one of the appellation’s finest white wine vineyards) and 20% from l’Ermite.Tasting through Guigal’s new and up-coming releases confirms his legendary consistency. He is the quintessential multitasker, fashioning inexpensive fine wines as well as super-luxurious, utterly profound reds and whites. When Guigal purchased the Grippat holdings, he received six acres of the Vignes de l’Hospice, a stunningly steep, photogenic vineyard at the top of the northern sector of St.-Joseph, looking down on the town of Tournon. These are the same decomposed granitic soils found across the river in Hermitage’s Les Bessards vineyard. Everything Guigal has produced from this vineyard has been as profound as St.-Joseph can be. In fact, his only competitor is Michel Chapoutier’s 500 or so cases of St.-Joseph Les Granits.Marcel’s talented son, Philippe, is taking over more and more of the business, and appears more than capable of filling the extraordinary shoes of his father, who I doubt will ever retire. I reviewed Guigal’s Cotes du Rhones and Chateauneuf du Papes in issue #173 (October, 2007), but he also continues to be an active buyer of high quality juice from Gigondas. He accomplishes this by tasting hundreds of samples, visiting 50-60 caves, and paying the highest price for his purchases. Guigal is unquestionably the most important producer of Cote Rotie. He buys grapes from nearly four dozen small growers, and supplements that from his own holdings. The single vineyard cuvees are excluded from this blend, but all his Cote Roties are vinified in his cellars. Guigal produces around 2,000 cases of Cote Rotie Chateau d’Ampuis, a cuvee he first made in 1995. About 7% Viognier is included in the blend, and the sources for the fruit are all fabulous sites from both the Cote Blonde and Cote Brune. According to Guigal, research in France’s National Archives prove that in its past, Chateau d’Ampuis produced Cote Rotie from these same sites
Expert Review
Expert Review
93 Points
Josh Raynolds - Vinous
(93% marsanne and 7% roussanne; scheduled to be bottled in February of 2009) Bright gold. Vibrant mango and mirabelle aromas expand with air, picking up spicy lemon and floral qualities. Broad and deep but focused, with sweet pit fruit and citrus flavors and a strong undercurrent of smoky minerals. The smokiness gains strength on the finish, which is strikingly sappy and long. For a big wine, this is admirably precise, even elegant. "There has to be a marked difference in the cuvees to justify making an Ex-Voto," Guigal told me, "otherwise it all gets blended together for the Hermitage classique
Expert Review
Expert Review
93 Points
Robert Parker - Wine Advocate
The 2006 Hermitage Ex-Voto blanc is a powerful, aromatic wine offering notes of crushed rocks, quince, orange marmalade, white peaches, and honeysuckle with spicy oak in the background. This dense, unctuously-textured offering is a promising white Hermitage that should drink well for three decades.(Not yet released)While the entire world of wine knows how profound Guigal’s red wines are, they may not know that he continues to demonstrate a complete mastery of white wine varietals, from his lowly Cotes du Rhone blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Clairette, and Bourboulenc, to his seriously-endowed dry whites from the northern Rhone. There are two cuvees of white Hermitage. The luxury offering, Ex-Voto, comes from five acres of 90-year old Marsanne vines planted in two separate vineyards on Hermitage Hill - l’Ermite and Les Murets. As the following notes indicate, Guigal has set aside a number of barrels that could make up the 2007 Ex-Voto, but he is not yet sure the quality will be high enough as this must be a wine of great richness and complexity.Importer: Fred Ek and Patrick Will, Ex Cellars Wine Agencies, Solvang, CA; tel. (805) 686-9153
Expert Review
Expert Review
93 Points
Robert Parker - Wine Advocate
The medium gold-colored 2006 Hermitage Ex-Voto Blanc (90% Marsanne and 10% Roussanne) exhibits pear and peach marmalade, honeysuckle and exotic Asian spice notes. It is a nearly over-the-top, intense, full-bodied white with an extravagant fruit character that conceals considerable acidity and structure. It will offer a mouthful of viscous, dry white wine over the next 10-15+ years.As I have written many times before, no one in the wine world is better at “raising” a wine (or as the French call it elevage) than Marcel Guigal, who learned the skills from his father, Etienne. Because everyone tends to focus on vintage conditions and terroir, the importance of a wine’s elevage is often overlooked, but Guigal’s unusually long tank, foudre and small barrel aging regime for all his red wines as well as several of his whites results in an array of remarkable wines time and time again. Even the most challenging vintages, which often taste under-nourished, vegetal and thin in their first year or two of life, tend to take on concentration and character, turning out to be some of the finest wines in many of the most difficult Rhone vintages. Moreover, Guigal’s wines always taste better out of bottle than from barrel, which speaks to his honesty and integrity as well as to his brilliance in deciding how long to age a wine in wood or tank as well as choosing the perfect moment to bottle it. None of this is as simple as it might sound, and that’s why Marcel Guigal gets my vote as the reigning genius in terms the upbringing his wines. For ten to twelve years after my first visit to this estate in the late 1970s, I tended to think of Guigal as primarily a red wine specialist. I still believe the red wines are the heart and soul of Maison Guigal, but the quality of the white wines has gone from strength to strength over the last few decades, and the Guigal family now routinely produces some of the finest dry whites of the entire Rhone Valley, including their humble Cotes du Rhone, and more particularly their white cuvees of Crozes-Hermitage, St.-Joseph, Hermitage and Condrieu. They produce more of the latter wine than any other proprietor of this tiny appellation. Guigal’s 2008 whites have turned out surprisingly strong. There is widespread agreement that the greatest terroir of the large appellation of St.-Joseph is the 8-acre parcel high on the steep hillsides above the city of Tournon. With a south/southeast facing exposition overlooking the Rhone River and Tain l’Hermitage, this 8-acre site is Guigal’s famous Vignes de l’Hospice St.-Joseph. This vineyard is composed of fragmented granite soils that are similar to the famed Les Bessards on the other side of the river in Hermitage. Unfortunately, only 500 or so cases of the Vignes de l’Hospice emerge from this vineyard. Along with Chapoutier’s St.-Joseph Les Granits, it is always one of the St.-Josephs of the appellation. The Vignes de l’Hospice spends 30 months in small new oak casks, but one would never know that when smelling or tasting it. I admire what Guigal is doing with his two white wines from St.-Joseph. The generic St.-Joseph is always 95% Marsanne and 5% Roussanne aged in stainless steel (50%), new oak (25%) and neutral oak (25%)......
Expert Review
Expert Review
93 Points
Jeb Dunnuck - Wine Advocate
The 2006 Hermitage Ex Voto Blanc is downright decadent, yet is also starting to show some evolution in its caramelized peach, quince and honeyed toast aromas and flavors. It’s still impressively concentrated and rich on the palate, and I’m sure will keep for another decade or more, but I would error on the side of caution and drink this over the coming 7-8 years.
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