2018 Domaine Alain Voge, Cornas, Vieilles Vignes, Northern Rhone, France.
The stunningly pure and deep 2018 old vine Cornas from the late Alain Voge (who passed away recently) is a fitting tribute to the man and the legend with beautiful floral and fruit details and complex meaty/savory notes that perfectly capture the varietal and place. This brilliant Syrah absolutely thrills the palate with full bodied density, but with exceptional poise, this Cornas could and does charm with violets, dark boysenberry, damson plum, creme de cassis, wild lavender, minty anise, peppercorns and black olives, as well as very subtle wood smoke. Everything flows together and lingers on and on in this vintage of Voge’s flagship wine. This is an elevated wine that seduces completely, it is less aggressive and feral than Clape or Allemand, but still has a classic Cornas gamey element and easily compares with top Cote-Rotie and Hermitage bottlings by some of the old school stars of the region. I hadn’t had Voge in a long while, and this wine truly make my heart soar and makes me a little sad I wasn’t able to get more bottles! This 2018 is still very young and I suggest if you can’t be patient for another 5 to 7 years, decant it and have it with a hearty meal, that’s not say it isn’t appealing now, it is just there is so much on offer here it needs time to unfold.

Coming from the oldest of the Domain’s wines, Voge says the Les Vieilles Vignes was created during the 1970s to highlight the long-standing family vineyard parcel that is a the heart of the Cornas appellation and makes for a signature wine of great power and intensity. The Alain Voge vines here are now all organic and biodynamic and this vineyard is, as the winery notes, situated on slopes at about 200 meters up in elevation with South-South-East slopes and are on average just over 60 years old. The roots, again as the winery continues, go very deep down into the ancient granite rock soils, called gores locally, giving this wine its concentration and mineral tones. The Les Vieilles Vignes Cornas, 100% Syrah obviously, was hand picked and was partially de-stemmed with typically about 20% whole cluster with stems in any given vintage, with primary maceration all done in stainless steel. The fermentation starts with natural indigenous yeasts and the maceration lasts for several weeks in the vats, with cap-punching and pumping-over done twice a day, after which the wine is pressed to barrels for aging. The maturation is done, as I learned, in mainly used 228-litre Burgundy style barriques for 20 months, with just 15% new oak, all of which feels just about perfect, especially in a year like this one. I don’t think I could recommend a wine more highly and I look forward to seeing this vintage gain in another decade!
($90 ESt.) 96 Points, grapelive

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