The term 'pioneer' is thrown around too freely today when referring to great winemakers, but in the case of Auguste Clape, it perhaps falls short of describing his contribution to the commune of Cornas. The Clape family were forced from the Languedoc during the grower strikes at the beginning of last century, and landed in Cornas with next to nothing. They not only painstakingly rebuilt their holdings, but lifted the fortunes of the region along with them.
Back then Cornas was a faceless production hub for big négociant houses, but Clape saw a genuine and independent future for the region, and in 1957 they became the first producer to bottle their own wine. This paved the way for many others, including the late Noël Verset and legendary Thierry Allemand, and today Cornas is recognised for producing some of the greatest Syrah wines anywhere in the world.
"Some of the most singular wines in the world emerge from the dark, barely-lit cellars of Pierre-Marie Clape and his son, Olivier. This is a bastion of traditional winemaking and these wines are not destemmed, see long fermentations, and are aged in ancient barrels and casks. As Robert Parker wrote at one time, “There is nothing wrong with a case of Clape!” I agree wholeheartedly!"
- Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate -
Winemaking at Domaine Auguste Clape could be described as rudimentary, but that is a compliment to the quality of the fruit they produce. Picked as late as possible, the Syrah resembles an incredible array of flavours from black strawberry and blackberry, to fresh flowers, tobacco and exotic peppers. Few wineries in the world so successfully transfer the flavour of the grape to the bottle. This is facilitated by a generous maceration on skins, followed by ageing in cement and often very old foudres - again no new oak is used. The newly bottled wine can be tight, pleasantly wild and raw when young, but begins to shed this after only a couple of years in bottle. The result is a hugely intense, athletic and linear Syrah of great ageing potential.
Clape's triumph is undoubtedly his Cornas, a blend of five to six cuvées from the oldest and finest sites. 'Reynard', 'La Côte' and 'Sabarotte' make up the core of the wine, their old vine la Petite Syrah gifting remarkable depth and power. The other bottlings released alongside this powerhouse Cornas are more than worthy of your consideration too however. 'Renaissance' is a cuvée drawn from high quality younger vines, while 'Vins des Amis' and their 'Côtes du Rhône' come from superb single vineyard sites just outside the appellation. These wines will provide particularly memorable drinking in the irresistibly elegant 2016 vintage from which they come.
“A very serious vintage but not as forbidding as 2010 and 2005” is how Pierre-Marie Clape and his son Olivier described 2015 to me. They caution that the wines really deserve patience before they can fully express their inherent complexity, “especially because the fruit is so expressive and needs to calm down,” according to Olivier. “But you probably won’t regret opening them too young, which you did with the ‘05s and the ‘10s, which are still closed.” He followed up by generalizing that “the wines are rich but vibrant, so in a style that people who like elegant wines are going to enjoy even though they’re quite substantial.” The Clape 2015s are indeed deeply concentrated wines and while I agree with the Clapes’ assertion that they will hold appeal for most any Rhône lover, it’s their elegant 2016s, which I also tasted from casks here in their very primary stages, that should really please those who prize elegance in their Cornas. More to follow as those wines mature, of course." - Josh Raynolds, April 2017, Vinous
Domaine Auguste Clape Cornas 2015 - $195
"The two Cornas releases in 2015 are head-turners that warrant serious attention. The flagship 2015 Cornas comes from the older vines of the estate, with a good chunk from the Reynard lieu-dit, which is unquestionably one of the grand cru sites in the appellation. This is a big, rich, sexy vintage from this estate and the top cuvée has a wealth of material and building, sweet tannin, as well as full-bodied richness and a great finish. It’s more approachable than the 2010 was at the same age, but it’s still going to require 5-7 years of cellaring. It’s a brilliant wine. " 95-97 points - Jeb Dunnuck, Issue 228, The Wine Advocate
Domaine Auguste Clape Cornas Renaissance 2015 - $148
"The 2015 Cornas Renaissance comes from the younger vines of the estate and terroirs closer to the village. I was able to taste the different components, all of which were loaded with fruit as well as classic Cornas notes of black olives, violets and pepper." 92-94 points - Jeb Dunnuck, Issue 228, The Wine Advocate
Domaine Auguste Clape Côtes du Rhône Syrah 2016 - $82
"The 2016 Cotes du Rhone is essentially declassified Cornas, so it's entirely Syrah but from young vines. It combines tarry notes with cherry fruit and some earthy notes. It’s medium bodied, with firm, dusty tannins on the finish." 89 points - Joe Czerwinski, Issue 234, The Wine Advocate
Domaine Auguste Clape Le Vin des Amis Syrah 2016 - $56
"The medium-bodied 2016 Le Vin des Amis is derived from Syrah grown on a flat parcel in the village of Cornas. It offers bright cherry fruit allied to a crisp, firm finish." 88 points - Joe Czerwinski, Issue 234, The Wine Advocate
Domaine Auguste Clape Saint Peray 2016 - $95
"The only white wine chez Clape is the 2016 Saint Peray. From a single hectare, it’s a blend of 70% Marsanne and 30% Roussanne. It shows plenty of spice—clove and pepper—to go along with ripe, honeyed fruit and citrus zest. It seems fresh yet nutty at the same time, an intriguing juxtaposition." 90 points - Joe Czerwinski, Issue 234, The Wine Advocate
There are very small amounts of these wines available and they will be offered on a first come, first served basis. This is a pre-arrival offer with wines set to arrive in mid-March. To purchase any of the products in today's newsletter please give us a call on (07) 3252 1117, or email email@example.com