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Staff pick... Guigal Cotes du Rhone on a roll

2014 Guigal Cotes du Rhone $19.99

It’s surprising how tasty this humbly priced southern French red is. And it has improved immeasurably over the past decade, ever since the family owned Guigal winery has moved their aging facilities for all of their wines to Ampuis, in the northern Rhone.

This month we were privileged to have Rod Hull here in New Zealand to introduce nearly the entire range of Guigal wines to the trade, providing indepth detail about what makes these wines so good. Hull is an Englishman based in Bordeaux where he works with a wide range of top European wine brands, including Guigal and Chave, among many others.

While we were privileged to taste a lot of great wines, it was the detail about the lovely, lively Cotes du Rhone is a blend that really took my breath away. I've enjoyed this wine for many years but in the past 5 to 10 years, I have noticed a massive improvement in its quality and style - and the price remains the same. That's no mean feat.

Guigal is a large family owned Rhone Valley winery, which makes great wines from both the northern and southern Rhone Valley. The Cotes du Rhone may seem to be entry level but great effort has gone into raising its quality over the past decade. This means that about three years' worth of stock is held back to ensure the quality remains consistent; it is also now aged at the family owned winery facility in Ampuis in the northern Rhone, to allow the family full control of its aging process. The blend is a complex, consistent one too; 65% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre, which no doubt adds the body and oomph to this exceptionally tasty red wine.

The style is all about velvety smoothness, soft mouth feel and fresh fruit flavours with an interesting chocolatey twist. That would be the Mourvedre kicking in. Talk about a lovely red - and outstanding value at $19.99.

This wine sells its socks off so it barely needs promoting, but the facts and figures we learnt this month blew us away, explaining just why it does taste so consistently good.