The Cornas vineyards are located in the foothills of the Massif Central, to the north of Valence and to the west of the village Cornas. They cling to the hillside in a half circle (south-southeast location) which forms a kind of natural amphitheater and provides some protection from the harsh Mistral wind. Cornas acquired its AOC status in 1938, and in 1960 the region was expanded considerably. Although it is smaller (131 hectares in 2013) in comparison with the other northern appellations, most of the Northern Rhone’s full-bodied red wines come from this region. The most important lieu-dits (properties) are le Chaillot, le Renard, la Côte, la Génale, Patou, les Sept Vaux, le Calvaire, and les Mazas.

The soil has a high granite and chalk content, especially in the higher-altitude vineyards in the north. The wines here are fresh and tannic in comparison with those produced in more low-lying vineyards. Then oldest vines are found in the south-facing vineyards in the middle of the Cornas appellation. Then soil here contains more gneiss and clay, and consequently the wines are richer and fuller, with ripe, round tannin. The sandier soil in the south has a looser structure; the wines are more supple and aromatic but they have, relatively speaking, less aging potential. The maximum yield allowed is 40 hl/ha, whereas the average yield in 2013 amounted to 30 hl/ha.

Wines produced in the traditional manner have a deep colour, are rich in tannin and somewhat ‘rustic’. The mineral-rich granite soil means that the young wines (always 100% syrah) are astringent; they require several years of aging in the bottle. There have been changes in this respect over the past fifteen years. Both the traditionalists and the modernists among the winemakers have increased the density of the grapevines, and attention to detail in the cellars has become even more painstaking. As a result, wines have made gains in terms of purity, minerality, and fruit, and they can be drunk when they are younger. The new guard favours (partially) destemming the grapes, soaking the skins for a longer period, fermentation at lower temperatures, and partial storage of the wine in new barriques (casks). The old school continues to advocate only frequent pigéage (submerging the must during the fermentation process through cap punching), more extraction and a shorter aging period (still eighteen months on average) in bigger casks (demi-muid or foudre). However, as taste is a personal matter, both schools are represented in the assortment.

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