Even though I know that Guigal's Cotes du Rhone can be purchased for $9.95 a bottle, I was willing to pay $10.50 for only a glass of it at Eddie Merlot's in Fort Wayne, Indiana. As the name implies, Eddie Merlot's is an upscale wine-oriented restaurant with awards from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast posted on the walls. Passing over many big names on the wine list, I chose the Guigal CDR, a wine I have enjoyed over many vintages dating back to 1978. With vineyards in Cote Rotie, Guigal is a negociant for Southern Rhones, but his selection of grapes is excellent. Year after year, E. Guigal offers one of the best and most ageworthy of simple Cotes du Rhone wines.
Knowing all that, and respecting the quality of the 2007 vintage, I was surprised to find that this glass of Guigal CDR offering up only flat, oxidized smells and flavors. The bottle had clearly been opened for several days. My complaint to the waitress was met courteously and promptly and, from the first sip, the glass from the freshly opened bottle was gorgeous: fresh berries, lavender and saddle leather with good depth and concentration, oriented toward Syrah rather than Grenache at this stage of its development. The wine is medium to full bodied with tannins that are noticeable but not obtrusive. This Cotes du Rhone would go very well with a well aged steak from Eddie Merlot's (although my choice from the menu was the pork osso bucco).
Paying $10.50 at a restaurant that prides itself on its wine list, I felt I had a perfect right to complain about being offered a stale glass. I'm glad I did. In the warm vintage of 2003, Guigal produced one of my favorite CDRs. In the slightly less warm vintage of 2007, Guigal has been equally successful. I'll keep an eye out for a few $9.95 bottles.