2017 Domaine A. Cape, Cornas, Northern Rhone, France.
These glorious Domaine A. Clape Cornas wines are gloriously alive and intense with classic palates and terroir influences, like this 2017 that has crushed blueberry, boysenberry, damson plum fruits and a touch kirsch, along with background complexities that include pretty violets, cinnamon, olive tapenade, saline, black licorice, camphor, iron/meaty tones and lingering cassis. There’s plenty of body and richness (here) to fill out in the mouth, as well as a nice cut of acidity (still pumping away) and grippy firm tannin holding this edgy and purple/garnet Syrah, this is serious stuff that should get even better in the next 3 to 5 years. To make this wine, the Clape’s use some special grapes, an ancient clone mainly, and Kermit Lynch, Clape’s long time importer, says the vineyards sit on granite subsoil, behind the village, with optimal sun exposure. Adding to that the Clap family farms a number of prime mature 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. All of the wines here at Clape are well worth the effort to chase them down, and all are small lots bottlings from the St. Peray White, the de-classified Vin de Amis (VdF), and Cotes-du-Rhone (100% Syrah), young vine Cornas, to this outrageously good and age worthy Cornas.
The Clape old vine Syrah parcels, as mentioned, are some of the finest in the Cornas region, with these mature vines on steep slopes of granite, now with the two youngest generations of Clape’s in charge here, since Auguste sadly passed away in 2018, just after this wine was fermented and put to barrel. The late Auguste, who was 93 at his death was the first to bottle his own wine in Cornas for the family, and now with his son Pierre-Marie and grandson Olivier leading the way here things have kept going with a smooth transition. They run this tiny cellar and estate with the same passion, hard work and style, with the vinifications that are old school, all whole cluster with full stems, native yeast ferments done in cement cuves (vats) and extended elevage in very old large foudres. Everything is by hand and long hours in the vines to allow (for) extra hang time so the stem inclusion is ripe and not overtly green (herbal) and bitter, but still feral and structured. For this top cuvée the Clape’s use only the best old vine fruit and they age this one for just under two years, with this 2017 Cornas seeing a full 22 months, making for a transparent and rustic beauty that should reward Syrah lovers in the same way Domaine Jamet Cote-Rotie’s do!
($159+ Est.) 96 Points, grapelive