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French and Greek Côte-Rôtie side by side

I was looking forward to this comparison for a few months now. A bottle of 2005 Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde by Guigal was lying in my cellar for longer. A few months ago, as I discovered a Greek wine shop in Frankfurt, I stumbled upon this other bottle, a 2007 Syrah named Evangelo by Domaine Gerovassiliou. The shop owner explained that this wine is supposed to represent a Greek kind of Côte Rôtie, as it is made exactly with the same methods and even uses 8% ( double the amount compared to the Guigal!) of the white grape Viognier within the wine – a common thing in the Northern Rhône to stabilize color, add acidity and flavor to the wine. And as both wines even are in the same high price class (around 40 Euro), I thought this could only be an interesting showdown.

Both wines started a little reserved and needed some time in the glass to show their full shape.

Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde 2005

The 2005 Guigal Brune et Blonde shows a quite one-dimensional nose of berries at first. But after a while it opens up and reveals notes of blueberries, meat and blood, all complemented by a gentle floral touch. On the palate it is a compact and powerful wine, without being overly muscular. There’s still tannin but I would say that the wine has no age right now and albeit it has great further aging potential, it is also perfectly enjoyable at this moment. The wine shows more and more depth with airing, also revealing the typical pepper notes.Furthermore, it is of good balance and shows a long finish full of flavor. This is a very satisfying and typical Northern Rhône wine, and this bottle only justifies its reputation as one of Côte Rôtie’s benchmarks.

The 2007 Evangelo also starts a little one-dimensional but with more sweet fruit in the nose than the Guigal, without appearing jammy though. In addition, it shows slight caramel tones, both in the nose and on the palate. Although it is younger than the Côte-Rôtie, it first apears more smooth with even finer tannin than the Frenchman. But this lasts for about 45 minutes and then, while opening up with more complex fruit notes added (plums), it suddenly shows its relative youth with an increasing astringency. The wine somehow signalizes that it is able to show more layers, more depth, but the bottle empties way too fast for delivering proof. Its Length is about the same than the Guigal.

While having about the same felt metrics for body, length and harmony, the 2 wines of course show differences. The Gerovassiliou displays a little more sweetness in the fruit and appears maybe just a hint more powerful. I have to credit it for achieving this, while only displaying 13% alcohol on the label (less than the Guigal with 13,5%, which is something I wouldn’t have expected). On the other hand, the Côte Rôtie definitely shows a little more finesse, more freshness and a greater complexity. It seems that the typical floral, pepper as well as steak notes are something that cant be reproduced elsewhere so easily. But to be fair: as the Evangelo is a couple of years younger, it might still have a chance to get there.

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