Stereotypical Cornas is “burly” and tannic. Nonsense. The greatest producers in Cornas produce wines of lithe complexity and deeply focused intellectualism. I now understand why so few appreciate these wines. They always underperform expecations. Those seeking power coming to Cornas will likely misunderstand the wines – those few remaining that go for the overt modern simply don’t work. Those expecting an ethereal Burgundy with clear fruit presence will also leave disappointed – fruit is rarely primary in these wines.
To enjoy Cornas you have to appreciate a demented Burgundy, a slightly confusing wine that is inherently imperfect. But past this are sui generis wines of world class.
Clape wines are irreplicable. Clape holds the widest selection of top terroirs and, like Chave, rejects single vineyard bottlings in favour of ‘idealist’ Cornas expression.
Allemand, a purist’s vision of single-vineyard perfection.
Both Clape and Allemand reach the apex, but with radical distinction. These two producers are by a far league the greatest of Cornas. But they contrast in a way that it would be easy to think them stylistic rivals.
Clape shows blending makes so-called ‘lesser’ years such as 1997 outstanding. The regime was less sophisticated with stems in the 1990’s, however, and more current vintages approach greater perfection.
A sole Allemand cannot provide internal comparison, but the contrast to Clape, combined with its structure clearly designed for longevity despite being the secondary bottling, proves genius.
For a detailed profile of Domaine Clape, see my article based on a visit to the domaine.
Clape 1997 Cornas – Excellent
Clape 2004 Cornas – Excellent+
Clape 2005 Cornas – Excellent+
Thierry Allemand Chaillots 2011 – Excellent