Auguste Clape Cotes du Rhone 2007
August. A month but also the appropriate moniker for this producer whose Cotes du Rhone is anything but plebeian. Not of the lushly endowed south, this Cotes du Rhone is a savory, gamey and feral wine that is 100% pure Northern Rhone Syrah and nothing but. It is rare to get a wine of such pedigree at this price in Canada (the same as the U.S.).
Geological Time in a Bottle
I’ve written about Clape before, having visited the domaine in September of last year. However, I had not tasted the “basic” Cotes du Rhone until this bottle, which proved revelatory.
This is no ordinary Cotes du Rhone. It is made from 30-50 year old vines near to Cornas (compared to the 12-20 year old vines in the more expensive Cornas Renaissance bottling) and is made with the same care and attention as the top wine, the eponymous Cornas. Everything at Clape is made with whole cluster fermentation using natural yeasts and twice a day punch downs/pump overs (which I witnessed with verve last year). The Cotes du Rhone is aged 6 months in cement and 6 months in old oak foudres from Alsace.
A wine with few talking points except that it is the perfect entry point for anyone who has not experienced true old-school Syrah from the Northern Rhone. This is top quality wine that in most markets is very hard to find. It tastes of the earth and as though it understands geological time. There are too few wines with such clarity of purpose but also such an ancient voice.
Excellent and Highly Recommended Value
$45 at Marquis Wine Cellars
Note: Re-tasted on November 24-25, 2012. Not showing nearly as well this time. Still a flavourful and delicious wine, but lacking structure and pretty uncomplicated for the price. The wine falls away without developing a good finish. I’d rate it Very Good based on this tasting.