Domaine Auguste Clape Côtes du Rhône 2016

Domaine Auguste Clape Côtes du Rhône 2016

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The Clapes have been vignerons for many generations, but the infamous grower strikes of 1906 and 1907 forced his grandfather out of the Languedoc and into the Northern Rhône to start anew from practically nothing. The Clapes rebuilt vineyards, 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, is a stately picture of grace and magnanimity—a no-nonsense wise man who is still interested in learning. Today, he works side-by-side with his son, Pierre-Marie, and grandson, Olivier. This special Côtes-du-Rhône rouge is made of 100% Syrah from 30-50 year ol

Though the Clapes farm only eight hectares, the challenge presented by the rough, tightly stacked terrace vineyards of Cornas is largely enough to handle by anybody’s standards. The dicey precipices make using any machinery in the vineyards impossible. All work must be done by hand. There are no official rules to their viticultural methodology—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 farm a number of prime parcels, including Reynards, La Côte, Geynale, Tézier, Petite Côte, Les Mazards, Patou, Pied La Vigne, Chaillot, and Sabarotte, the latter purchased from Cornas legend Noël Verset. Their only secrets: starting with old vines, and optimizing the ripeness of the fruit as best they can. They accomplish this by holding out before they harvest—a risky game of ‘chicken’ where the trick is to keep the fruit on the vine as long as possible while still harvesting before the rains. Individual parcels are vinified separately in old, oval foudres. 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 their importer Kermit Lynch 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.

This special Côtes-du-Rhône rouge 

Category Red Wine
Varietal
Country France
Region Rhone
Appellation Cotes du Rhone
Brand Domaine Auguste Clape
  • we89

Wine EnthusiastThe 2016 Cotes du Rhone is essentially declassified Cornas, so it's entirely Syrah but from young vines. It combines tarry notes with cherry fruit and some earthy notes. It's medium-bodied, with firm, dusty tannins on the finish.

Joe Czerwinski, December 2017

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