E. Guigal is a noted producer of Rhône wines, specializing in top flight Côte-Rôtie reds; 1998 was (as is mentioned elsewhere) a banner year in the Rhône valley. This wine would therefore have been a natural choice on my apparent drink-my-way-through-the-Rhône quest. However, this wine received generally bad reviews from such groups as the Wine Spectator and some columnists I respect, such as Oz Clarke. But some other sites railed against the "elitist snobbery" of these reviewers and said it was a great wine. Anyway, having very nearly exhausted our wine store's supply of sub-$12 1998 Cotes du Rhones, I said what the hell.

I now understand both sides of the argument. The wine is a brilliant (and therefore probably highly filtered) red, offering aromas of pepper and other spices. So far so good. But the wine fails on the taste, which is grapey without any real complexity. It's medium-bodied with almost no finish (meaning little tannin) and a slightly acidic, dry feel. As a wine, it's fine; but it's not really a fine wine, if you know what I mean. You just really expected more, especially as some less-storied producers turned out much better stuff with the same 1998 grapes.

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