2018 Domaine Auguste Clape Cornas
Auguste Clape first came to Cornas in 1949 to marry his wife Henriette whose family owned 5 hectares of vineyards in the appellation. Today his son, Pierre-Marie and grandson Olivier Clape run the estate, which is considered to be the benchmark producer in the region. They farm 5.38 acres of Cornas including a resounding 3 hectares on the granitic soils of what is the finest plot in Cornas - Reynards. An “old-style” producer with no destemming, wild yeast ferments that take place in concrete vats and aging in older, neutral foudres for 20 months before bottling without filtration. If you seek a traditional Syrah from the sun-drenched, terraced slopes of the Northern Rhône, the stunning wines of Auguste Clape should be at the top of your list.
Bottled late in 2020, the 2018 Cornas is another exceptional vintage for this cuvée, drawn from the family's older vines, largely in the lieux-dits of La Côte, Sabarotte and Reynard. Yes, it's from a hot, sunny vintage, it's rich and ripe, with plenty of red plum fruit up front, but there's a solid underpinning of crushed stone to provide balance. Full-bodied and velvety in feel in the mouth, it lingers elegantly on the lengthy finish. Complete, balanced and fine, it should drink well through at least 2040. Drink 2023 - 2040.
Joe Czerwinski - Wine Advocate (Jan 2022)
Spice- and mineral- accented dark berry, smoky bacon and floral pastille scents show excellent delineation and pick up deeper licorice and olive paste notes with air. Sappy and expansive in the mouth, offering juicy boysenberry, bitter cherry and spicecake flavors that show outstanding depth and are lifted by a potent mineral flourish. Powerful yet lively in character, delivering solid finishing thrust and closing with noteworthy tenacity and youthfully chewy tannins that build steadily.
Josh Raynolds - Vinous
The flagship comes largely from the Reynard lieu-dit (unquestionably one of the finest vineyards in the appellation) and the oldest vines of the estate. The lots destined for this cuvée offered another level of richness and depth, with more opulence and decadence than most recent vintages. Full-bodied, concentrated, and tannic on the palate, it’s going to require patience. The 2015 was even more tannic and backward at this stage, but there’s more than a touch of greatness in this beauty.
A tasting of the various lieu-dits suggest a fairly classic vintage, on the riper side but not as ripe as 2015, with well-balanced acidity and ripe tannins that are relatively approachable for this domain. Some tanks showed a little raised volatile acidity, which may show up in the final blend. They will make Renaissance this year; tanks yet to be selected at this stage, so the score is very much just an early indication. Some rain in May had Pierre Clape worried about mildew, but a few treatments with copper did the trick - there was a little on his whites but not his reds. A relaxed harvest started on the 12th of September, fermentations were long with no destemming as usual, fermented in concrete, aged in large old oak barrels.
Matt Walls - Decanter