There's no producer in the Northern Rhone that continues to rasie the bar each vintage like Guillaume Gilles in Cornas. His 2008 was a showstopper for me at the time of release, impressing for an authenticity of Syrah that grabbed ahold of me immediatly - the kind that's romantically spoken of, but rarely found in bottle. Savage, spicy, and filled with a sense of crushed granite, Gilles Syrah from the famed Chaillot vinyeard encapsulated everything that habitually points me to Cornas.

Each vintage seems to bring a new face to the growing domaine that is Guillaume Gilles, but 2014 marks a vintage where the sense of completeness is immediately obvious.
 There's an untamed deliciousness to Gilles's wines that's simply bona fide Cornas. Unlike Côte Rôtie and Hermitage, Cornas has a generosity in its youth that begs to be devoured. There's nothing reticent about the 2014 - the bottle opened on Super Bowl Sunday with braised pork shoulder reminded me just how much these wines deliver.

Guillaume trained under Jean-Louis Chave and the now-retired Cornas legend, Robert Michel. If Michel's wines were known for their uncommon transparency and light-handed touch, Gilles are darker, more ferocious, and packed with a concentration that's quite different. However, like Robert Michel, the soul of the wines from Gilles are founded on a sense of place that's undoubtedly pure granite and 100% whole cluster fermentation - just the way we like our Cornas.. 

Cornas is the southernmost red wine appellation in the Northern Rhone Valley, and essentially a south-facing amphitheater of steeply terraced granite slopes. The protection offered here from the fierce mistral wind of the valley gives a decidedly more robust and forward quality as compared to Hermitage and Côte Rôtie to the north.

Personally, falling hard for the wines of 
Thierry Allemand have set my eyes continually toward today's more under-the-radar producers. Allemand's $150+ bottles are unrivaled, but at half the price there's simply no producer that deserves more attention now than Guillaume Gilles. 

Today, Gilles farms just 2.5 hectares, working by hand the famed Chaillot vineyard (pictured below) that he leased from Robert Michel. His traditional approach means zero de-stemming, aging in large neutral barrels, and no fining or filtering. That quintessential combination of roasted meats, violets, blackberries, smoke, black pepper, and the granitic "scorched earth" that Cornas derives its name from is always front and center. 

2014 Guillaume Gilles Cornas
$71 per bottle.


Also available:

2013 Guillaume Gilles Cornas
$71 per bottle.


2008 Guillaume Gilles Cornas 1.5L
$149 per bottle.