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The Appellation:
Northern Rhone: Cornas and Saint Peray

our most recent virtual wine tasting experience.

The Varietals: Syrah and Marsanne 

The wines and why we love them:

2015 Alain Voge Saint Peray “Fleur de Crussol” 
The under the radar Northern Rhone white appellation, across the river from Cornas, where the Marsanne grape reigns as queen.
Not to mention Alain Voge, the gentleman, who has contributed so much to keeping his region alive and shining through every bottle ever made under his name.

2017 Dumien-Sumetre Cornas “Patou” 
A four acre estate of old vine Syrah, a diamond in the rough in the Cornas hillsides. Concentration, power, complexity and finesse, an exemplary Cornas made from the labor of love and tradition.

2015 Alain Verset Cornas 
Nephew of legend Noel Verset. Alain inherited his uncle’s and dad’s parcels, for a one and only Cornas cuvee.
A family trait one cannot deny, a wine as scarce as the legend itself.

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The Northern Rhône … such a dynamic region.
Filled with the new generational winemaker enthusiasm yet combined with ancestral knowledge in a small array of land with so much diversity.
Embracing change while preserving tradition, sound advice in all areas.

Let’s talk location.
 A fifty mile stretch of land, a forty five minute drive that if one blinked an eye could miss most of the beautiful nuances.
It runs about twenty minutes south of Lyon in the north to Valence in the South.

When it comes to wine, one needs to finish the drive, fill up a glass, look at a map and indeed assess these very nuances.

On the red side, you are dealing with one grape varietal, SYRAH, so how hard and diverse can this grape be.
Not hard, just intricate… And one where subtlety is magnificently defined.

We just finished our second zoom tasting series on the Northern Rhone. We focused our time on these appellations:
Crozes- Hermitage
Saint-Joseph
Cornas
Cote Rotie

yes, so little time that we missed coverage on Condrieu and Hermitage…

Starting with, Crozes Hermitage. This region offers perhaps a more readily enjoyable wine.
So does St. Joseph in the northern parts, while St. Jo in the southern parts calls for more time in the cellar.
Not to miss the most collectible and acclaimed appellation to the very north: Cote Rotie!

But let’s dwell in the southern part of Northern Rhône …Hermitage is the patriarch, a wine requiring many years of aging, but, oh, what a reward!

The appellation we fancy best for it’s character, precision and linear syrah notes is Cornas.
A tiny “island” of a hillside, preserved by the perseverance of a few hardcore vineyard lovers that favored grapevines to condos.
A 1970’s fight that rewards us still today.

Dumien-Seurette is a micro four-acre estate with close to one hundred year old vines in the very top hillside of Cornas. Old vines don’t generate much juice, but where they lack in volume they make up in quality! 
That being said, where is the logic for a viable business? It’s not about that… To this family, it’s not only about pulling the best juice out a small hillside plot that the family has owned for three hundred years, it is about putting their name on that juice, year after year with the pride of ownership.

Our next stop in Cornas is with Alain Verset. Which carries a heavy prestige inheritance.
His dad made a little Cornas that the world never had a chance to see or taste.
His uncle did sell his wine abroad, and passed away before the world realized how precious his bottles had become.
An ultimate treasure or prize to come across, Noel Verset Cornas are now legends!
Alain has done right by both his dad and uncle, mixing the three parcels he acquired, making for one single cuvee.
There is something in the family genes taking place with Alain’s winemaking skills…
This 2015 is not yet a legend…but time will reveal to us it is….

Lastly arriving to Saint Peray- just across the river Rhône,
to Alain Voge- a living legend in Cornas.
His Cornas’ are a reference mark.
His winemaking ability is revered with winemakers throughout France.

He was at the forefront of the ones who battled in the 70’s to keep the vineyard land safe (along with the Verset family).
A hidden gem and an “under” un-discovered appellation for the Marsanne grape.
An incredible potential for greatness, just like what one will find up the road in Hermitage.
A broad white wine with density and expression.
Saint-Peray is gold before purification, stay tuned and be sure not to miss out.

Again how can a small stretch of fifty miles, all planted to a single red grape and very few white varietals display such contrasting experiences….the answer is in every bottle….

 

Fun facts:

The only grapes grown in the region are Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne

Cornas is celtic and means “burnt earth”.

A Syrah conservatory has been established to preserve the varietal. More than 650 clones will be studied!

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