WTN: '95 Chapoutier Cornas

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WTN: '95 Chapoutier Cornas

Postby Mark Lipton » Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:56 pm

Tonight, in celebration of a major research discovery, I cooked some venison steaks and went down to the cellar for a Bambi wine, coming back with:

1995 Chapoutier Cornas
nose: initially, simple blueberry fruit, later developing green olive notes
palate: medium body, high acidity, smooth tannins, very simple initially, later losing most of its fruit while taking on a green olive character

This wine was purchased lo those many years ago, back before I'd discovered this group in fact, when I still put faith in the pronouncements of the Pope of Monkton. Since then, I've learned that Chapoutier's wines from that era are not held in high esteem by all who love the wines of the N Rhone, so it was with some trepidation that I opened this bottle. For the first 30 minutes, it was impossible to identify the wine as a N Rhone Syrah, let alone a Cornas. Later, the olive character began to proclaim its origins, but at the same time I noticed a loss of fruit. In the end, this wine might improve over the next 1-2 years, but I wouldn't hold it much longer than that, as there are signs that it may begin fading soon, too. In his review of this wine, RMP was very positive and forecast a lifetime until 2016. Unless your cellar is colder than mine or you won't miss the fruit, I think that that prediction is overly optimistic. In addition, I never got a sense of Cornasness from this wine, as I do/did with the wines of Verset and Clape.

Mark Lipton
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Re: WTN: '95 Chapoutier Cornas

Postby Hoke » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:11 pm

Mark, much as I love Cornas, I've had some problems with it over the years.

Cornas is a harsh place---or can be---for Syrah, and I've often been confounded by the wines from some producers/vintages---primarily because of that hard green olive character that you identify! Sometimes I've confounded them to the point of not thinking they were Syrah at all, and were perhaps misshapen young weedy Merlots.

When I was at Alain Voge earlier this year, I had the ability to sample through a range of vintages and walk the slopes to get a feel of the terroir. It was a good exercise because I then could understand some of the conditions in certain vineyard locations that could dictate that hard green note to the wines. Location, exposure to the wines, and very importantly the soil composition and texture can strongly influence and determine what the resulting wines will be.

(And I still believe Chapoutier does better with other Rhone AOCs than they do with Cornas. In general.)
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Re: WTN: '95 Chapoutier Cornas

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:47 am

Hoke wrote:Mark, much as I love Cornas, I've had some problems with it over the years.

Cornas is a harsh place---or can be---for Syrah, and I've often been confounded by the wines from some producers/vintages---primarily because of that hard green olive character that you identify! Sometimes I've confounded them to the point of not thinking they were Syrah at all, and were perhaps misshapen young weedy Merlots.

When I was at Alain Voge earlier this year, I had the ability to sample through a range of vintages and walk the slopes to get a feel of the terroir. It was a good exercise because I then could understand some of the conditions in certain vineyard locations that could dictate that hard green note to the wines. Location, exposure to the wines, and very importantly the soil composition and texture can strongly influence and determine what the resulting wines will be.

(And I still believe Chapoutier does better with other Rhone AOCs than they do with Cornas. In general.)


Yeah, Livingstone-Learmonth goes into this in quite some detail, as you'd expect. I've walked the slopes of Cornas, too. Not as insane as Côte-Rôtie to be sure, but still pretty crazy landscape for agriculture. Trying to imagine elfin Nöel Verset still trudging up the slopes of Chaillot and Reynard in his mid-80s is almost beyond me, but of course he did, much to our benefit. Unlike you, Hoke, I love that green olive character to the wines, especially if it's accompanied by a careful dose of Brett. FWIW, though, I associate green olive less with Cornas than with certain parts of St. Joseph, but I'll take it however I can get it.

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Re: WTN: '95 Chapoutier Cornas

Postby Salil » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:00 am

Congratulations on the discovery, Mark. I'm looking forward to hearing about it in a few major publications soon. :D
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Re: WTN: '95 Chapoutier Cornas

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:25 pm

Salil Benegal wrote:Congratulations on the discovery, Mark. I'm looking forward to hearing about it in a few major publications soon. :D


Thanks, Salil. We might shoot for Science or Nature on this one, but that's always as much about politics as it is about the science. We'll see...

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Re: WTN: '95 Chapoutier Cornas

Postby Rahsaan » Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:15 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:
Salil Benegal wrote:Congratulations on the discovery, Mark. I'm looking forward to hearing about it in a few major publications soon. :D


Thanks, Salil. We might shoot for Science or Nature on this one, but that's always as much about politics as it is about the science. We'll see...

Mark Lipton


Indeed. Congratulations and nice to aim high. So what did you open to really celebrate the results?
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Re: WTN: '95 Chapoutier Cornas

Postby Bill Spohn » Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:17 pm

Thanks for the review. I have 4 bottles of this (somewhere) and will pull one out to try very soon.

Have had several Cornas lately, all good, but haven't pulled one of these in awhile. Might be fun to pull a cork beside the same vintage of Jaboulet Dom. St. Pierre Cornas.
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Re: WTN: '95 Chapoutier Cornas

Postby Jenise » Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:36 pm

Mark, I've heard the same thing, but the 95 and 91 Sizzerannes are falsely blamed, if indeed other vintages deserve it. Both are terrific wines.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: '95 Chapoutier Cornas

Postby Mark Lipton » Tue Oct 13, 2009 1:03 am

Jenise wrote:Mark, I've heard the same thing, but the 95 and 91 Sizzerannes are falsely blamed, if indeed other vintages deserve it. Both are terrific wines.


Jean got a magnum of the '95 Sizeranne at auction. I'll look for your notes before opening ours.

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Re: WTN: '95 Chapoutier Cornas

Postby JC (NC) » Tue Oct 13, 2009 3:10 pm

Congratulations on the research discovery, Mark.
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Re: WTN: '95 Chapoutier Cornas

Postby Jenise » Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:34 pm

Congratulations, Mark, on the achievement. I'm sure whatever it is would be over many of our heads, but would you be tipping your hand to tell us what it is?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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