• Rockstar Realized: Guillaume Gilles Cornas

    Rockstar Realized: Guillaume Gilles Cornas

    Guillaume Gilles in Cornas continues to raise the bar each vintage. A visit with him in July 2018 was a great opportunity to learn more about the young vigneron who highlights Northern Rhone's new generation. Gilles trained under Jean-Louis Chave and the now retired Cornas legend, Robert Michel.

    Gilles leases 2.5 hectares of the famed Chaillot Vineyard from Michel. His traditional approach means zero de-stemming, aging in large neutral barrels, and no fining or filtering. If Michel's wines were known for their uncommon transparency and light-handed touch, Gilles is darker, ferocious, and packed with concentration. Still, they have that undeniable sense of pure granite and 100% whole cluster.

    Since Thierry Allemand's Cornas wines easily fetch for $250+ per bottle, I've set my eyes on today's more under-the-radar producers. There's simply no producer more deserving of attention than Guillaume Gilles. That quintessential combination of roasted meats, violets, blackberries, smoke, black pepper, and scorched earth that Cornas derives its name from is always front and center.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Bona Fide Cornas: 2018 Domaine Clape

    Bona Fide Cornas: 2018 Domaine Clape

    A visit to the Northern Rhone for my birthday started by hitting the road at dawn. I was short on sleep from the previous night's festivities in Burgundy, but the anticipation for the next stop on the tour was all of the fuel I needed: Domaine Auguste Clape.

    The style here has always pushed for maximum ripeness, choosing to pick at the last moment before the ominous fall rains begin. These fruit-forward Cornas from porous granite soils endow the wines with tremendous structure but with a pleasurable side of lusciousness. It's often argued that of the Big Three, including Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, Cornas offers an up-front approachability thanks to its southern and warm amphitheater setting. However, the savage scorched earth quality where Cornas derives its name is the foundation of this fabled domaine.

    Clape's five hectares of vines in Cornas cover over 10 parcels, such as Allemand's Reynard and Chaillot and Nöel Verset's Sabarotte. This dizzying array of Cornas terroir plays a huge role in the success that's spanned so many decades here. The wines are produced most traditionally with 100% whole cluster fermentation and aging in old barrels, with the two Cornas cuvées seeing 22 months in large foudre.

    Finding adequate words to place Auguste Clape into the context of Northern Rhone's history is difficult—Eric Asimov does a much better job in the NYT. Auguste started bottling under his own name in 1955 and stopped all négociant sales in 1968. Sadly, the day after I visited his son Pierre-Marie, he passed away at 93. Auguste is a pioneer of the Rhone alongside Noël Verset, Raymond Trollat, and Marcel Juge.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Bona Fide Cornas: Domaine Auguste Clape 1988-2016

    Bona Fide Cornas: Domaine Auguste Clape 1988-2016

    After I finished up a great birthday dinner with friends in Meursault, I packed my bags and prepared for the 6am departure for Cornas. Leaving eight days of Burgundy in my rear view was difficult, but the upcoming appointments in the Northern Rhone Valley had enthusiasm sky high. First stop: Domaine Auguste Clape.

    Today, I'm happy to offer wines from the legendary Cornas family, stretching from 1988 to 2016.

    Finding adequate words to place Auguste Clape into the context of Northern Rhone's history is difficult. Eric Asimov does a much better job. Of course, being the original producer in Cornas to bottle under his own label is a notch on the belt. And, having worked exclusively by hand on these treacherously steep terraces is another. Sadly, the day after my visit with his son Pierre-Marie, Auguste Clape passed away at 93. 

    No domaine founded in the birthplace of Syrah captures the soul of its appellation like Clape has with Cornas. Having started with a domaine bottling in 1955 and having stopped all négociant sales in 1968, Auguste Clape is a pioneer of the Rhone joined in ranks with names like Verset, Trollat, and Juge. 

    Clape's 5.5 hectares of vines in Cornas cover over 10 parcels, such as Reynard and Chaillot from Allemand fame, as well as Nöel Verset's cherished, 
    Sabarotte. This dizzying array of Cornas terroir plays a huge role in the success that's spanned so many decades here. The wines are produced in the most traditional fashion with 100% whole cluster fermentation and aging in old barrels, with the two Cornas cuvées seeing 22 months in large foudre.

    The style of the domaine has always been one that's pushed for maximum ripeness, choosing to pick at the last moment before the ominous fall rains begin. This style of fruit-forward Cornas coming from porous granite soils endow the wines with tremendous structure, but with a pleasurable side of lusciousness. Unlike Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, the argument is often made that of the Big 3, Cornas offers an up-front approachability thanks to its southern and warm amphitheater setting. However, the typical savage scorched earth quality where Cornas derives its name is the foundation of the wines from this fabled domaine.

    Tasting through each parcel and visiting the vines with Pierre-Marie was a window into a time long ago. Methods and settings have remained unaltered. There hadn't been rain for some time, and just maintaining footing on these steep slopes was a challenge, as both of us used a grasp on the échelas stakes for support.

    In the cellar, tasting 2017 in foudre back through bottles from the 90's was a great lesson in the transformation of the wines. The highlight may have been that 2017 barrel sample of the isoloted 80-yr-old, 1.2 hectare Reynard parcel. A concentrated and chiseled beast from the robust 2017 Northern Rhone vintage.


    Côtes du Rhone is 100% Syrah from 30-50-yr-old vines. 100% whole cluster fermented. Aged 6 months in cement, and another 6 months in foudre. 2% is comprised of free-run juice from young vine Cornas.

    Cornas is sourced from 30-60 yr-old vines. 100% whole cluster fermented. Aged 22 months in 6 or 22 hl-foudres.

    Cornas Reinassance is sourced from younger vines. Fermentation and aging is the same as the Cornas.


    8x 2016 Clape Côtes du Rhone
    $49 per bottle.

    6x 2015 Clape Côtes du Rhône
    $49 per bottle.

    7x 2014 Clape Côtes du Rhône
    $46 per bottle.

    7x 2015 Clape Cornas Renaissance
    $99 per bottle.

    4x 2000 Clape Cornas
    $227 per bottle.

    4x 1999 Clape Cornas
    $299 per bottle.

    5x 1995 Clape Côtes du Rhone
    $135 per bottle. (Pre Arrival)

    1x 1989 Clape Cornas
    $579 per bottle.

    1x 1988 Clape Cornas
    $579 per bottle.
    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Bona Fide Cornas: Clape 1989-2015

    Bona Fide Cornas: Clape 1989-2015

    Finding adequate words to place August Clape into the context of Northern Rhone's history is difficult. Of course, being the original producer in Cornas to bottle under his own label is a notch on the belt. Working exclusively by hand, still today, on these treacherously steep terraces is another. A visit to the cellar might personify the strongest quality of the family's ties to tradition, as today the barrels appear to be the same we see pictured below. With Auguste still working closely with son, Pierre-Marie, and grandson, Olivier, the rustic yet hautingly pure wines from this address are still the stuff of legends. Today's offer features the anticipated 2015 release, as well as back-vintage gems like 1989, 1990, and 1999.

    Clape's 5.5 hectares of vines in Cornas cover over 10  parcels, such as Reynard and Chaillot from Allemand fame, as well as Nöel Verset's cherished, 
    Sabarotte. This dizzying array of Cornas terroir plays a huge role in the success that's spanned so many decades here. The wines are produced in the most traditional fashion with 100% whole cluster fermentation and aging in old barrels, with the two Cornas cuvées seeing 22 months in large foudre. With time the wines maintain a chiseled frame, but begin to show a delicacy that's rare for this appellation known for it's wild character.

    The style of the domaine has always been one that's pushed ripeness as far as possible, choosing to pick at the last moment before the ominous fall rains begin. This style of fruit-forward Cornas coming from porous granite soils endow the wines with tremendous structure, but with a pleasurable side of lusciousness. Unlike Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, the arguement is often made that of the Big 3 Cornas offers an up-front approachability thanks to its warm amphitheater setting. With rich and concentrated vintages like 2015 this element of charm is front and center. But, the typically savage, scorched earth quality where Cornas derives its name is the foundation of the wines from this fabled domaine.

    2015 Clape Cornas
    $139 per bottle.

    2015 Clape Cornas Renaissance
    Sourced from younger vines. Fermentation and aging is the same as the Cornas.
    $99 per bottle.

    2015 Clape Côtes du Rhone
    100% Syrah from 30-50-yr-old vines. Aged 6 months in cement, and another 6 months in foudre. 2% is comprised of free fun juice from young vine Cornas.
    $45 per bottle.

    Also Available:

    1989 Clape Cornas (January Arrival)
    $459 per bottle.

    1990 Clape Cornas (January Arrival)
    $742 per bottle.

    1999 Clape Cornas
    $299 per bottle.

    2006 Clape Cornas
    $159 per bottle.

    2014 Clape Côtes du Rhône
    100% Syrah from 30-50-yr-old vines. Aged 6 months in cement, and another 6 months in foudre. 2% is comprised of free fun juice from young vine Cornas.
    $48 per bottle.

    2016 Clape Côtes du Rhone
    100% Syrah from 30-50-yr-old vines. Aged 6 months in cement, and another 6 months in foudre. 2% is comprised of free fun juice from young vine Cornas.
    $50 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod