Auguste Clape Cornas (750ml)
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. For many years, the majority of growers in Cornas sold their fruit to négociants.
Auguste was the first to bottle his own wine, which eventually paved the way for such contemporary superstars as Thierry Allemand. 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.
Many layers of aromas, complex and spicy with a fragrant array of dark brambly berries, dark plums, dark chocolate. Spices and peppers, as well as graphite-like stony notes. There’s a silky core to the palate with extreme power, all delivered so precisely that appear light and elegant. Sweet spiced-fruit flavors run long and bright, exploding in a spectacular spicy finish.
The Clapes farm only eight hectares on rough, steep terraced vineyards. All vineyard work must be done by hand and they work the old-fashioned way, by instinct, feeling, and common sense. The vineyards sit on granite subsoil, behind the village, with optimal sun exposure. They own pieces in prime sites and individual parcels are vinified separately in old, oval foudres. Whole grape clusters are fermented with natural yeasts in open air cement cuves with punch-downs or pump-overs twice a day over 12 days. Malolactic fermentation occurs in foudre. Long élévages of twelve to twenty-two months add depth to the natural complexity of the wines. The wines are capable of tremendous longevity in the cellar, although Kermit also encourages trying them while they are young and fresh, to better appreciate the evolution to come. For a taste of the old-style Syrah from the fabulous, sculptured slopes of the Northern Rhône, Auguste Clape’s Cornas is the only place to start.