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“Some of the best kept secrets of the northern Rhône.”Jeb Dunnuck
For more than half a century, Auguste Clape has been a Cornas icon, the very definition of “old school” in what is one of the wine world’s most steadfast bastions of tradition.
Today, his son Pierre-Marie and grandson Olivier continue to craft Cornas that’s the real deal, made by methods that have changed little since Auguste’s youth.
One important change did take place in the 1990s though: the creation of the Côtes du Rhône and Le Vin des Amis cuvées. These Old School Cornas taste-alikes are made with classic whole-cluster, old-barrel vinification from younger Cornas vines (planted since 1990), as well as fruit from Clape’s old Syrah vines (some planted in 1895!) in nearby St. Pèray.
Each is beautiful in its own right, approachable earlier than Clape’s Cornas, but every bit as pure a rendering of the aromas and flavors that only Syrah grown in and around Cornas can express.
The key is the breadth of Clape’s holdings; from the southern sector’s Patou to the great Chaillot in the north, Clape draws from an unparalleled palette of great Cornas lieux-dits. But there’s more: Clape also has old-vine Syrah on the granite slopes of the neighboring village of St. Pèray, as well as on the adjacent galet-strewn plain near the Rhône.
The St. Pèray and riverside fruit is blended with juice and press wine from top Cornas terroirs, creating wine that is unmistakably chez Clape. Vinified completely with whole clusters and aged in neutral old foudres, both cuvées are beautiful expressions of the Clape family’s artistry and dedication to traditional methods.
When tasted blind alongside many other growers’ Cornas, they would very likely have the upper hand, particularly after a few years of bottle age.
The only challenge is finding the. With only 300 to 400 cases made of each wine in each vintage, and much drunk upon release, if you can find well cellared examples, don't hesitate!
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