M Chapoutier Cornas Les Arenes 2007 and Pouilly Fuisse Domaine Valette Tradition 2005
Cornas is a wine appellation in the northern Rhone with the potential to provide serious challengers to Hermitage on the opposite bank to the north. Cornas was renowned in the era of Charlemagne, and in the 18th century, but many of the terraced vineyards on its steep south-facing granite slopes fell into decline in the early 20th century. The appellation experienced a revival of interest in the late 1980s with the arrival of ambitious newcomers prepared to reestablish the terraces needed for high quality vineyards, so that by the mid 2000 there were almost 100 ha of vineyards in the production. Starting with the early 1990s new techniques have been used: new oak and destemming, an anathema to Auguste Clape, the standard bearer during the lean years of the 1970s. Perhaps because Clape’s very traditional wines demand considerable bottle age, Cornas gained a reputation as a long-living wine, but the likes of Thierry Allemandm, Eric et Joel Durand, Vincent Paris and Domaine du Tunnel are making a much more luscious style of Cornas.
Many of the best slopes such as Les Renards in the south are well sheltered from the cold north winds and enjoy some of the best positions in the northern Rhone. Cornas can provide some of the most satisfying red wine drinking, and offers a much more uniform and dependable quality level than the elastic St Joseph appellation to the immediate north.
M Chapoutier Cornas Les Arenes 2007
The wine has a clear dark red/purple color. The nose reveals a mix of red fruits, light dark cherry, black pepper. In the mouth the wine is medium body, initially over powered by alcohol, but that faded away during the tasting, with rich red fruits, sour red cherry, licorice; the wine is silky on the palate. The wine is drinking nicely already and finishes in a short to medium aftertaste.I don’t think that this wine justifies its high price. Good+
I also tasted a Chapoutier Crozes Hermitage 2007 that was selling for 30 EUR that I found better than the Cornas. I liked the red fruit and dark chocolate aftertaste in the wine.
My general experience with Chapoutier wines has not been very successful so far. I tasted: Chateauneuf du pape La Bernardine 2005 and 2006, Belleruche 2006, Coteaux du Tricastin 2006, plus a couple more and now Cornas and Crozes Hermitage. I didn’t find the wines appealing at all. Certainly not for the prices they sell for. Perhaps the premium cuvee’s are justifying their cost, but I’ll not venture to try them on my expense.
Pouilly Fuisse is an important white wine appellation which commands the highest prices in the Maconnais district of Burgundy. The appellation, restricted to the Chardonnay grape, includes about 850 ha in the communes of Fuisse(the most powerful wines), Solutre(the richest wines), Vergisson(most minerality) and Chaintre(the softest wines). There is no concept of Premier Cru vineyards in this appellation but Pouilly Fuisse may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard. A popular myth is that the soil beneath the crags was enriched by the remains of animals driven from the top of the cliff by Stone Age hunters. The wines are full body and ripe but do not usually attain the elegance of the finer wines from the Cote de Beaune. Normally bottled after a year’s barrel maturation, they are capable of aging well thereafter. Prices can vary a lot depending on the demands of major export markets in a given year.
Domaine Valette – Tradition 2005
Price: 25 EUR
The wine has a clear emerald gold color. The nose is pretty tight with little butter and some mineral flavors. In the mouth the wine is rich, full body, with mineral notes, toasted almonds, hazelnuts, everything dominated by honey flavors and a creamy texture; everything is nicely integrated. The aftertaste is medium to medium plus leaving more honey behind. I liked this wine a lot. Very good+
Information about Cornas and Pouilly Fuisse is courtesy to “The Oxford companion to Wine” – Jancis Robinson
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