When three wines from one vintner earn classic ratings of 99, 98 and 97 from Wine Spectator, it may be hard to choose among such a rare triple threat. But for Marcel Guigal, who is arguably the most influential vintner in France’s Rhône Valley, his single-vineyard cru La Landonne (99), with its tobacco aromas, stands out from La Mouline (97) and La Turque (98), his two other collectible Côte Rôtie crus—at least when it comes to cigar pairings.
Guigal ranks the 1999 Côte Rôtie La Landonne (99, $275 on release) among the top three vintages in the last 20 years, comparing the overall quality to the “sublime vintages” of 1982 and 1988.
And the famed ’90 vintage? “In Côte Rôtie, 1999 is superior to 1990, when Hermitage did better than Côte Rôtie,” says Guigal. “The ’99 is delicious today, but it will still be great in 50 years.”
In 1999, Guigal and his son, Philippe, produced an elegant and racy La Landonne. It displays the ripe tannins typical of the vintage in the northern Rhône, which Wine Spectator rates a “classic” 95 on its 100-point scale. The wine melts on the palate and delivers refined blackberry flavors. Like Guigal’s other single-vineyard crus, the wine was aged for 42 months in new oak barrels, and it smells of mocha-scented oak and chocolate.
In the late 1960s, Guigal and his father, Etienne, began to buy small parcels in La Landonne from other growers in Côte Rôtie, an appellation that grows Syrah on the Right Bank of the Rhône River. The family is credited with revitalizing the appellation at a time when many growers in the area were abandoning grape production because of the high cost of operating on the river’s steep banks, where mechanization is virtually impossible. The winery, E. Guigal, released the first vintage of La Landonne in 1978. Today, Guigal has five acres in La Landonne and produces between 800 and 900 cases a year.
“It’d be a sin to match La Mouline with cigars, because it’s a delicate wine with a lighter tannin structure,” says Guigal. “You need a wine like La Landonne with lots of personality and terroir, and its prune and tobacco notes make a good match.”