Auguste Clape Cornas 2016
Monsieur Clape's Cornas is systematically considered the best in the appellation, constantly attaining the most amazing levels of excellence. There is always an extremely deep purple, almost black color that exudes a never-ending array of rich complex aromas of dried fruits, licorice, spice and pepper. The sheer power and concentration of the wine on the palate is overwhelming. The attack is sensational, followed with an incredible volume of extract that saturates the palate in rich, concentrated fruity tannins that last through a magnificently long, stunning finish. These wines need at least 5 or 6 years in bottle before they will open up, but areat their best after 10 years.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
This has deep, smoky notes and a quite tarry edge, too. The dark plums and black fruit pastilles are assertive here. Very succulent and long with freshness and composure. This is a very elegant Cornas. Excellent length. Try from 2023.
The 2016 Cornas is cut from the same cloth yet has slightly more density as well as structure. Crazy notes of incense, beef blood, plums, ground pepper, and blueberries all emerge from this perfumed, massively concentrated Cornas that has building tannins, a tight, chiseled mouthfeel, and a great, great finish. Hide bottles for 5-7 years and it will keep for 2+ decades.
Marked by hints of tar and black pepper on the nose, Clape's 2016 Cornas is earthy and savory, loaded with notes of black olives but with enough blueberries and blackberries to satisfy fans of fruit as well. It's full-bodied, rich and tannic but not tough or hard, with incredible balance. It's so harmonious that it's not overly difficult to drink now, yet it should age gracefully for a couple of decades.
No destemming as usual, fermented in concrete and aged in large, old oak barrels. A tasting of the four main component parts (La Petite Côte, Sabarotte, La Côte and Reynards) reveals a more classic expression than the very ripe 2015 vintage. Though still ripe, the Cornas terroir is in sharper focus this year, with each terroir clearly showing its character. Fresh, defined and floral aromatics abound, with ripe but chiselled, saline tannins and relatively high acidity. An elegant vintage with good Cornas typicality.
Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
In the world of wine, there are many good winegrowers. However, there are only a very select few who are truly great, and Auguste Clape will go down in history as one of the greats. A proud and uncompromising pioneer of fine winemaking in the Northern Rhône, his Syrahs from the cru of Cornas have earned their place among the most celebrated wines of France. The Clapes have been vignerons for many generations, but the infamous grower strikes of 1906 and 1907 forced Auguste's grandfather out of the Languedoc and into the Northern Rhône to start anew from practically nothing. The Clapes rebuilt their fortunes, terrace by terrace, along the steep, western slopes of the Rhône River. Without pretense or fanfare, Auguste, the former mayor of Cornas, was a stately picture of grace and magnanimity—a no-nonsense wise man who never rested on his laurels and sought to better himself and his wines each year until his passing in 2018 at the age of 93. Today, his son, Pierre-Marie, and grandson, Olivier, carry on his legacy with honor and integrity.
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 makes an intense, powerful and often age-worthy red. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah achieves its maximum potential in the steep village of Hermitage and plays an important component in the Red Rhône Blends of the south, adding color and structure to Grenache and Mourvèdre. Syrah is the most widely planted grape of Australia and is important in California and Washington. Sommelier Secret—Such a synergy these three create together, the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre trio often takes on the shorthand term, “GSM.”