Rising Star in Cornas

Today’s Story: Domaine Vincent Paris

Domaine Vincent Paris was established in 1997 with 1 hectare of inherited vines in Cornas. Vincent studied enology for four years before working alongside his uncle, famed Cornas vigneron Robert Michel, and desiring autonomy with his own wines. Vincent set about planting vines in St. Joseph and Cornas, ultimately acquiring La Geynale in 2007 and farming a total of 8 hectares today. Vincent farms 1.5 hectares of Saint Joseph, 6 of Cornas, and 0.5 of Vin de Pays with meticulous attention and refuses to use insecticide or chemical fertilizers while limiting treatments. Vincent severely prunes his vines (to only 4 bunches per vine) which helps produce concentrated, high quality berries and cuts down on green harvests. In the cellar, Vincent destems his fruit to varying levels and ferments the wines naturally after cold maceration at relatively lower temperatures. The wines spend 3 months in vats and then a year in oak barrels that are never new but rather 2-8 years old in an effort to not mask terroir, before they are ultimately bottled with light fining but no filtration.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Granit 30

100% Syrah; 13% ABV

The 2017 Granit 30 is opaque medium to deep purple in color. I decanted this for four hours, which allowed the nose to blossom and showcase aromas of blackberry, black plum, overripe blueberry, bacon fat, violet, wet rocky/clay earth, charred herbs, rubber, and gravel. Once in the mouth, the wine displays notes of dusty blackberry, black cherry, cassis, anise, sweet tobacco, mild smoke, granite, black pepper, chocolate, and iron. There is even a funky note of root beer flavored Bottle Cap candy! This is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $40 (might be able to find it a few bucks cheaper). This is a really nice value for Cornas, especially if you can snag it for around $35. While the Granit 30 is the more approachable and modern bottling, this drank significantly less people-pleasing than I was expecting (which is great). Pair with herb roasted lamb, venison steak, or braised beef ribs.

People-Pleaser From Cornas

Today’s Story: Domaine Courbis

Domaine Courbis dates back to the 16th century, with the estate today under watchful guidance of brothers Laurent and Dominique Courbis. Laurent and Dominique took over from their father Maurice in the early 1990s, and though they maintain traditional practices such as hand harvesting and rigorous sorting the brothers greatly modernized the winemaking philosophy at the estate. Consisting of 35 hectares under vine, the domaine falls largely in Saint-Joseph with 18 hectares of Syrah and 5 hectares split between Marsanne (95%) and Roussanne (5%). The next largest holding is in Cornas with 8 hectares and the balance is split among Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Péray, and others appellations. The fruit is sustainably farmed, fermentation occurs in tanks, and aging occurs in oak barriques that vary from new to 3 years old, with the overall style yielding intense and concentrated wines.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Cornas Champelrose

100% Syrah; 14% ABV

The 2015 Cornas Champelrose is opaque medium to deep purple in color. I decanted this for about an hour, and it seems that is as long as this needs due to its aim of being approachable young. The nose showcases aromas of jammy blackberry, blueberry, violet, crushed rock, smoke, and light oak. Once on the palate, the wine displays notes of blackberry, black plum, black pepper, tobacco, wet granite, chalky mineral, and chocolate. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, dusty medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $40. This is a tasty Cornas, but on a value perspective I’d probably look elsewhere. This was lacking complexity compared to others, and certainly fits into a more “people-pleasing” camp that is already highly competitive. Pair this with beef short ribs, grilled lamb chop, or charcuterie and blue cheese.

Tear-Jerking Syrah

Today’s Story: Thierry Allemand

Founded in 1982, Thierry Allemand’s winery originated as one member of a small bastion of producers in Cornas who sought to revitalize what was the “red-headed stepchild” of Northern Rhône. Though the wines of Cornas were once adored, the terraced vineyards fell into great disrepair during the early 20th century and many large négociants churned out harsh wines with heavy tannins that drove consumers away. During the 1980s, Thierry Allemand worked for Domaine Robert Michel when he started assembling (and more so rescuing) abandoned vineyards that needed clearing and restructuring of terraced walls. The process of building his own domaine took 15 years and he utilized many things he learned at Domaine Robert Michel (including terrace farming and noninterventionist winemaking) during construction and onward.

Allemand’s vineyards total less than 5 hectares and his annual production is about 650 cases of wine. While all fruit is farmed organically, Allemand takes this a step further and does everything by hand (not even a tractor is used in the vineyards). All of his wines are fermented in stainless steel and open-top wood vats, stems are left on cluster, punch-downs are by foot, and each wine is vinified separately. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered, while very little (and sometimes none at all) sulfur is added. Allemand produces the “Les Chaillots” from vines 5-40 years old in limestone and granite, as well as the “Reynard” with vines 34-90 years old in decomposed granite.

Today’s Wine: 2011 Cornas Reynard Vineyard

100% Syrah; 13.5% ABV

My first (and long overdue) bottle of Allemand and I must say I am incredibly impressed. The wine is medium to deep ruby in color and we let this decant due to its young age. Once the wine opens up, the nose showcases aromas of plum, black cherry, blueberry, crunchy cranberry, smoked red meat, fresh leather, purple florals, black peppercorn, cedar, and mint. Right out of the bottle, the nose showed aromas of barnyard and forest floor that mostly blew off after decanting. In the mouth this beauty shows notes of blackberry, blueberry, violet, damp loamy soil, cigar box, slate, crushed stone, and spicy minerality. Medium- to full-bodied with high acidity and dusty medium (+) tannins, this incredible Syrah finishes long with dominating notes of black fruit, crushed rock, and spicy pepper.

Price: $300. Not an everyday wine, though great for a celebration or nice dinner (I drank this at Spago Beverly Hills). Pair this with beef (like Spago’s Snake River Farms Wagyu), duck, pheasant, or even roast chicken and rabbit (like my fellow diners).