Cornas Surprise: 2014 Pacalet Cornas

Posted by Ian McFadden

This is Cornas like you've never tasted it before.

It's hard to imagine an expression of Cornas so faithful to the appellation, yet so removed from its usual expression.

For those of you familiar with the wines of Philippe Pacalet, this won't come as a surprise. His Burgundies have earned a cult following for being unapologetically transparent, lithe, ethereal and poised.

He brings the same sensibility to Cornas. The results are gorgeous. Pacalet's Cornas is improbably weightless and flaunts the perfume, savoriness and general aromatic complexity that Syrah is capable of.

I have to admit that this wine shocked me. Before tasting it, I was skeptical. Pacalet has worked in Burgundy for over two decades. Since 2001, he has worked as a quality obsessed micro-negociant who seeks choice, very well-cared for parcels. It was hard to imagine how this sensibility would translate to Cornas, the Northern Rhône's inkiest and most bone-crunching appellation.

It's amazing how successful Pacelet's 2014 Cornas is. For all of their delicacy and gossamer textures, Pacalet's wines can have deceptive substance. This gets to the beating heart of his Cornas. It's a wine that walks on tip-toe, but there's a quiet intensity and meatiness that builds steadily and sneakily.

The 2014 Cornas is light and gulpable, yet its core has a rough-and-tumble black mineral streak that you associate with Cornas. You have notes of spice, flowers, game and red fruits all wrapped around a vibrant acidity. It captures the clarity and brightness, plus plenty of the textural allure of the 2014 vintage really well.

Philippe Pacalet is the nephew of Marcel Lapierre. He was mentored not only by his uncle, but also by Jules Chauvet, the Beaujolais negociant who is considered the father of the natural wine movement. He left to work with Prieuré Roch and then, started his own negociant project. He's become one of the looming figures in the natural wine scene. Along the way, he has befriended many of France's most important producers, including Thierry Allemand. Think of Pacalet's Cornas as having Allemand's purity and detail with Lapierre's gulpabilty.

I strongly encourage you to check this out. In the past six months, few wines have surprised and fascinated me as much as this. This a deliciously singular expression of Cornas.

To order, email or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden

Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

2014 Pacalet Cornas