Alain Voge Cornas Vieilles Fontaines 2003
Almost all of the vines at Domaine Voge are 50+ years old, meaning that virtually all of Voge's production is labelled Vieilles Vignes. Steeply sloping like Côte Rôtie and facing south and east, the terroir of Cornas is dense granitic schist rather than mica-based as in Côte Rôtie, giving the wines a more subtle elegance in the mouth and a bit more high-toned purple fruit in flavor.
"Produced from 100 plus-year Syrah vines planted on pure granite, the 2003 Cornas Vieilles Fontaines is a candidate for Cornas of the vintage. While extremely backward and more austere than the Vieilles Vignes cuvee, it possesses remarkable freshness and vigor as well as a dense ruby/purple color, and an extraordinary nose of acacia flowers, melted licorice, plums, blackberries, and truffles. The wine is deep, full-bodied, relatively high in tannin, and exceptionally lively and well-defined. Give it 3-5 years of bottle age, and consume it over the following 15 or more years. It is a potential legend in the making."
Since its inception, several generations ago, Domaine Alain Voge has always been a family domain located in Cornas. In 1958, Alain Voge joined his father to work on the small typical farm. He decided to specialise in wine.
At the time, it was an audacious decision: despite their history, the Cornas and Saint Peray appellations were forgotten sleeping beauties. Very quickly, he extended the vineyards in places which had remained uncultivated over the last 30 years and developed the sales of his bottled wines. Supported by his wife Eliane, he visited the best national and regional restaurants to make his wines known.
Thanks to their quality and to Alain Voge’s creative approach, the domain’s reputation has rapidly increased. Yesterday, as today and tomorrow, our philosophy is to practice a hand made viticulture on the slopes of the Rhône right bank, dedicated to Syrah and Marsanne. Our wines are the expression of their terroir, for the pleasure of lovers, all over the world.
Distinguished as a fine Syrah producing zone since the 18th century, Cornas, like Cote Rotie, is made up of vineyards covering steep and hard-to-work, granite terraces. As a result the region’s wines fell out of favor during the mid 20th century when the global market was more focused on bulk wines and vineyards that yielded high quantities. It wasn’t until the 1980s when a group of energetic young winemakers reestablished the integrity of these precipitous terraces and also began making an ultra-modern style of Syrah. The new style didn’t need a decade before it was drinkable and could reach the consumer faster than the region’s traditional wines. Given the new quality coming out of the zone, its popularity once again soared and today a good Cornas can easily challenge many of those from Hermitage. Characteristics of Syrah from Cornas include teeth-staining flavors of blackberry jam, plum, pepper, violets, smoked game, charcoal, chalk dust and smoke.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.
Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.
In the Glass
Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.
Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.