Auguste Clape Cuvee Renaissance Cornas 2003
Syrah/Shiraz from Cornas, Rhone, France
"Deep inky ruby. Rich and ripe on the nose, with notes of dark berries, plum jam, espresso, bitter chocolate and fresh rose. Powerful and dense on the palate, showing great ripeness but also a complicating mineral lift. Finishes ripe, concentrated and long."
Auguste Clape Winery
Auguste Clape is the mayor of Cornas, and the same is said about his public service as his winemaking: solidity and consistency. He makes no fancy bottlings or vineyard designated wines, just a simple Clape Cornas. His only secrets, he will tell you when asked, are ripe fruit and old vines. Auguste and son Pierre-Marie try to harvest late each year, a risk considering the possibility of rain close to harvest time. No new wood is used; the wine is raised for 18 months in older barrels and foudres. The key to complexity, according to the Clapes, is vinification of each vineyard separately. Before bottling, a blend is decided upon which harmonizes the separate components while keeping a unified overall impression.
Despite lack of conscious marketing, Clape Cornas had become one of the most reputable names in the northern Rhone, due not only to his consistency from vintage to vintage, but also because it has become the hallmark style of Cornas Syrah, a style now emulated elsewhere in the world.
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Talk about potential... the appellation of Cornas is lesser-known than its northern counterparts, but has the ability to make delicious, hearty, long-lasting wines. The hills of Cornas are steep and hug the Rhone river, as many Northern Rhone appellations do. Cornas is typically best when aged for up to 10 years, although pioneer winemakers, like Jean-Luc Columbo, are now producing wines that require less time in bottle for maximum enjoyment.
All Syrah, all the time. No whites from this appellation. The Syrah grapes are sun-drenched and well-protected from the Mistral winds on the super steep hills where the vineyards are terraced. The wines have got power and punch, and are perhaps a bit rougher around the edges than an Hermitage. Flavors coming from wines of Cornas are big and powerful, with lots of leather, earth & spice, yet backed by the typical black fruit of a Syrah.
About France - Other regions
When it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and
Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
Alcohol By Volume Guide
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.