TN: 1983 Guigal Hermitage ( rouge)

Of uncertain provenance. Was unloaded to me for $10 from the bargain bin of a well-regarded wine store. Glad I took a chance.

Cork: top half dry and clean, good deal; bottom half wet but intact. Top half broke with the Ah-So but a conventional corkscrew took out the bottom half without breaking.

Rich garnet with light bricking. Initial nose of wet leaves blew off. MInimal funk. The classic syrah nose of rich, bloody meat came to the fore, with notes of iodine, white pepper tobacco and dried flowers on the back end, as well as lean black fruit peeking through. It felt both primal and elegant. Midpalate weight was there with some still-slightly- drying tannins and a 25-30s finish. Satisfying and balanced. Great, mature syrah.

This makes me wonder a bit about the syrah I buy now. I wish I had tasted this 30 years ago to know what to cellar today. Sigh.

Sounds like your bottle was better stored than my last one, had about 3-4 years, and was just over peak. That bottle today would have been a bit dried out and tired.

I used to have a few bottles of this and they were really nice (last experience was probably 8-10 years ago). It has drunk well for quite a while but I’m not surprised to hear it’s still good.


I had a 1983 Guigal Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde from the same cellar and was also pleasantly surprised. It was past its peak, but interesting and persistent. We had it open for almost two hours and it never went south. For $10, a real treat.

I had a 375ml of the 83 Hermitage that had been kicking around (temperature controlled) for ages. I finally popped it with an friend ITB five years ago, figuring it would be shot and we’d move on. It was stunning. I posted on it and gave it 95+, as high as any score I’ve given in years:

I figured the Hermitage would be a tired novelty, but we were agreed we didn’t need another full bottle.

Pow! In the nose, there was a fair deal of maturity – a trace of caramel, black tea and coffee powder. In the mouth, however, it was extraordinarily fresh, full bodied and fruity from the get-go. Hints of cassis and black olive. The tannins are pretty fully resolved, but there’s a nice acidity to support the wine, lots of fruit and the whole was utterly seemless. It was decanted maybe 30 minutes ahead and it just got better and better in the glass, the aromas freshening and fleshing out… until we drained the dregs and happily scarfed them down.

This was the essence of the best, most graceful old style Northern Rhone. Marcel knew his shit! 95+

Some of those dried out relatively early and the acid came to the fore. Others held on for a long time.

One thing to remember is that Guigal, Jaboulet and most other Rhone producers bottled different lots in those days that were substantially different. There was a thread recently on the 83 La Chapelle where this issue came up. The EU didn’t require lot numbers to be indicated on the bottle until the late 80s, so it’s a bit of a crap shoot buying older Rhones if you don’t know the provenance back to purchase.

Transatlantic shipping was sketchy back then too. You could even have bottles bought on release that were damaged.

I bought a fair number of Guigal wines in that era and never had a damaged wine.

8/10: in Maine…this is a wow wine…vibrant, super concentrated, mature and harmonious syrah (is there some viognier in this? as it is plenty finesseful). Olives and that glue of syrah…light on the palate w/.chocolate and long long clean fruity choclately fruit with good structure . WOW! Wonder how good the Chave is?

This is a note for the '83 Hermitage almost five years ago. My last bottle of that, unfortunatley. Still have one CR left (and a note from 2005 says if might not be great).

I think 1983 was a superb vintage in the Rhone, particularly the N. Rhone (though Beaucastel and, particularly, Vieux Telegraph in the south were terrific). As it was in Burgundy, the syrah ripened terrifically, with good structure and concentration. I still have a few bottles of Chave and Delas Hermitage resting for the “right” occasion.

Am I right that the Guigal Hermitage then was all bought wines/grapes…and that Guigal owned no vines on the Hill.

Sounds very much like my 2010 encounter with the wine.

I don’t recall if Guigal owned any Hermitage vines then, but in any event, I think a lot of it was bought fruit, and the Hermitage never had the same reputation that his Cote Rotie B&B did.

I doubt there’s any viognier in the Hermitage, as few producers there include it.

I’ve found the acidity stood out a little too much in some 83s as they aged, including some bottles of the CR B&B, so I have a slightly more mixed view of the vintage than I did early on. But the best – Clape, the better lots of La Chapelle – are super.

I haven’t had one in a long time, so I’d be curious if you open the CR and post notes.

I will…assuming my inventory, which says one bottle, is correct.

And, FWIW, and for whatever reason, I’ve never been as big of a fan of CR as I have with Hermitage.

(Wow…it’s there…bought in February 1987 for $19.00 at Calvert Woodley…and sitting in my “cave” since. Now I have to figure out an occasion. 1983 was our marriage year, so…)

The rules for Hermitage allow up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne, but no Viognier. I don’t think many Hermitage producers blend with the white grapes, pretty sure the Guigal has always been 100% Syrah.


In general, are among Guigal’s wines?

In general.

For whatever reason, I’ve not loved too many CR and have often been wowed by Hermitage.

Al…but in CR viognier is allowed, right? And, do many producers blend that in?

I knew more at one point about those white-wine blending practices, but…I stopped paying much attention to the N. Rhone after the late '90s.

Back then, Guigal had no vines in Hermitage. They do so now. I still have a few 1978’s kicking around that I need to get to sometime.

Yes, CR allows Viognier and many use it. Hermitage allows Marsanne and Roussane, but very few use it.


Production has vastly increased over the past 20 years, with land on the flats above the slopes now planted. That hasn’t helped. But at it’s best, it can be truly great. FYI, Guigal produces something like 50% of all CR.

Yes. Here’s what I posted a while back:

Actually, viognier is used by most Cote Rotie producers in at least some of their bottlings. Livingston Learmonth says that the vineyards are planted only 95% syrah, and by implication 5% viognier. He gives the following figures for major producers, in general or for the particular cuvee listed:

Bernard - 0%
Barge - 5%
Bonnefonds - 8%-10% for Cote Roziers
Burgaud - 0%
Champet - 6% (of vineyard)
Chapoutier - 3% for Les Becasses
Clusel-Roch - 4% for regular bottling
Yves Cuilleron - 10% for Bassenon cuvee
Pierre Gaillard - 20% (!) for Les Vialleres cuvee for the U.S.
Gangloff - 10% for Barbarine cuvee
Gerin - 10% for Champin cuvee
Guigal - 5% for Brune & Blonde; 11% for La Mouline; 7% for La Turque; 0% for La Landonne
Jasmin - 4%-5%
Levet - 0%
Rostaing - 3%-5% for Brune & Blonde
Vidal-Fleury - 3%-5% for Brune & Blonde

That thread also had info on the (rare) inclusion of white grapes in Hermitage.

I wonder if the viognier is why I never warmed to CR vis a vis Hermitage.

I don’t like many Condrieus/viogniers…though I love those from Vernay (and like their “Maison Rouge” Cote Roti; will have to find out what % viognier is in it.)

added: 100% syrah for the Maison Rouge CR; 5% viognier for the “lesser” CR.

I very much doubt it.

Whose CR’s have you been drinking?

We had '83 La Landonne last night and it was singing. I’ll type up some notes on that and the other wines of the evening.

It’s really a “had” been drinking. I stopped buying them in the early '90s…and drank up what I had, beside some Vernays, which I bought with some of their viogniers. I know the last few I’ve had were Vernays.

I used to buy the Guigal “regular” CR most years throught he early '90s from the early '80s…and I visited a couple of estates there in the late '80s…and carried some back. Names escape me, as I never got into the town/appellation, after visiting Chave, Fayolle, Delas Sorrell and a couple of other places in the Tain area and liked those wines much better.

And, you, do you prefer CR “over” Hermitage? And, if so…or not…why?

I do feel that I gave up on CR with too little experience maybe.