Cornas AOC is one of the smallest appellations in the Rhône Valley of France. It indicates a 100% Syrah red wine from Cornas, a commune located south of Lyon in the northern Rhône. On the opposite side of the river is the town of Valence.
Background: ‘”The mountain of this village is most entirely planted with vines which produce a very good black wine. This wine is much sought after by the merchants and is very heady.” ‘Since the village priest wrote these lines a propos of the local brew back in 1793, many things have changed in Cornas: due to a succession of natural and man-made disasters, the “mountain” now harbours only one third of the vines it did at the end of the 18th century; thanks to improved winemaking and a new generation of winemakers Cornas is no longer the “fighting wine” it was once reputed to be. The rather shabby village of Cornas, nestling at the foot of the limestone and granite coteaux, is traditionally considered to be the poorer cousin of Côte Rôtie AOC and Hermitage AOC. It is here that the Rhône Valley broadens out and the vines, which are set well-back against its western flank on south and south-east facing slopes, are sheltered from the cooling influence of the Mistral. This leads to higher average temperatures and makes it the earliest ripening of the Northern Rhône appellations,’ writes Roy Richards.
Communes (1): Cornas.
Vineyard area & wine production: 2002 3,225hl from 97.2ha (Guide Hachette: 2004, p.1042).
Terroir: Steep slopes, sandy-granite soils, held in place by small walls (‘murets’).
Wine style: Dark purple-black, plenty of tannin. Red Cornas is a ‘compelling alternative to pricey neighbours Hermitage AOC and Côte Rôtie AOC,’ (Oz Clarke: 2015, p.98). Auguste Clape suggests Cornas is the perfect wine for Roquefort cheese (Hugh Johnson: Wine Companion: 1991, p.195).