Auguste Clape, one of the ambassadors of Cornas, left us yesterday at the age of 93. Critics and connoisseurs alike all agree that he was one of the greatest pioneers of the Northern Rhône and that his Cornas Syrahs are among the most celebrated wines of France.
Auguste first went to Cornas in 1949 to marry his wife Henriette whose family owned 5 hectares of vines in the appellation. For many years, most growers in Cornas sold their fruit to négociants but Auguste became a local legend when he became the first to make wine from his own grapes instead of selling them. This decision set the tone for the future of Cornas.
Today, his son Pierre-Marie and grandson Olivier Clape run the estate. Although they only farm 8 hectares, the tightly stacked and terraced vineyards present a huge challenge. The sharp precipices makes the use of any machinery impossible and, as a result, all the work must be done by hand.
Clape’s powerful and authentic Syrahs, produced from the region’s best granite soils, have become world renowned. They only produce two cuvées – the Cornas, from 40 to 90-year-old vines, and the Cornas Renaissance which is produced from their younger vines.