2011 Clape Cornas - Northern Rhone Benchmark

Posted by Ian McFadden

Northern Rhône Benchmark
2011 Clape Cornas
Cornas' Dark Side

If the traditional producers of the Northern Rhône soared in popularity in the past couple years, Clape absolutely exploded.

This domaine has been a reference point in Rhône since Auguste Clape first started in 1949. With Thierry Allemand, he is one of the two rock stars of Cornas.

However, with the 2009 vintage and a near perfect score in the Wine Advocate, Clape broke through to a much wider audience than the traditional producers of the Northern Rhône have enjoyed. All of a sudden, serious collectors had Clape on their buy lists right next to Guigal's La La's, First Growth Bordeaux and top Grand Cru Burgundies.

We're huge fans of Clape (his '88 is a Crush legend) and we're happy to see this. Still, his surge of popularity has been disorienting and more importantly, has made securing the wines in any quantity a full-time job.

I strongly advise, if you're interested, that you jump on this. The wine is in short supply and if the current price tags on 2009 and 2010 are any indication, this is likely the best pricing you'll see. The 2010 starts at $200. There is only one listing in the country for the 2009, and it's $250.

There are only a handful of traditionalists left in the northern Rhône that can hold court with Clape, think of heavy hitters like Chave, the Jamet brothers and Allemand.

If Allemand is Cornas as suave, fine and bright, Clape shows the region's dark side, wonderfully bone-crushing and savory.

The 2011 vintage is notable for producing clear, concentrated wines that will drink well in their youth, but still possess the region's characteristic intensity and complexity. Clape really nailed the vintage. Parker has declared, "The 2011s and 2010s rival anything produced at this family-owned, tiny boutique producer."

Clape Cornas transforms in the cellar, tamed by age to reveal a refined core of herbal elegance. But with this long life still ahead of it, andin the clarity of the 2011 northern Rhône vintage especially, Clape Cornas will also make for some fantastic early drinking.

Back in 2011 when we offered the '06, we warned against the soon-to-be rapidly dwindling quantities. That time has come. This is one of those wines that we only get one chance to offer. Once these bottles are snapped up, as they invariably will be, prices rise and the wines get even harder to find. Please give us your ideal order and we'll do our best.

To order, reply to offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

Robert Parker: "The flagship wine, the 2011 Cornas exhibits classic notes of blackberries, cassis, camphor, incense, violets and hints of forest floor as well as steak tartare, a sensational texture, a full-bodied opulence, and terrific richness. This remarkable Cornas can be drunk early or cellared for 15-20 years."