Northern Rhône's Old Guard: 2009 Juge Cornas

Posted by Joe Salamone

Northern Rhône's Old Guard
2009 Juge Cornas

Marcel Juge is somewhere in his eighties. He's the last of Northern Rhône's old wisemen still commercializing wines.

Wines like Juge's can seem like an endangered species in their low-tech honesty and immediacy.

The knowledge, the instinct, to make wines like these seems to be something in decline, if it is not simply inaccessible in this day.

Last weekend, Juge had a moment in the spotlight when John Gilman sent out an email alerting the readers of his View From the Cellar how incredibly impressive Juge's 2009 Cornas is.

We were very happy to see his note. Juge's Cornas have been amongst our favorites for some time. As soon his wines became available again in the U.S. we jumped all over them. Back in 2011, we sent out an enthusiastic email announcing the wines return.

These are some of the most distinctive, soulful expressions of Cornas that we know. The only catch, and this is super-painful, is the quantities. Juge is retired and can only make wine in tiny quantities as a hobbyist by French law. Production is only around 150 cases.

Having said that, I'm going to keep this short.

Contrary to Cornas' reputation for being dark and fiercely tannic, Juge's wines have always been known for the elegance and the charm that they are able to display in their youth. Yet despite their early accessibility, their reputation for aging is formidable. They age on their balance, not their muscle. In a vintage like 2009, Juge's style really shines. It's a beautiful wine.

There must be something addictive about the backbreaking granite slopes of the Northern Rhone that makes its winemakers so reluctant to hang up their pruning shears. As Livingstone-Learmonth writes in The Wines of the Northern Rhone, "the habit of working on until the body can take no more is ingrained."

This is certainly the case with Juge. We couldn't be happier that we still have his beautiful, traditional examples of Syrah. As we mentioned, these are rare. Please give us your ideal order and we'll try our best.

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

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits

John Gilman: "Though Marcel Juge is officially retired, he still makes a very small amount of wine from his remaining parcel of old vines as a hobby, which is raised in an ancient foudre and now bottled by his American importer, as Monsieur Juge is now too old to be handling the bottling himself. The 2009 Cornas from Marcel Juge is outstanding and utterly classic in style, shape and octane. Over Monsieur Juge’s long career, he often made one of the most elegant examples of old school Cornas, and this style has neatly dovetailed with the very high quality 2009 vintage to produce one of the best wines of his era. The deep and youthful nose wafts from the glass in a fine blend of raspberries, pepper, a touch of youthful medicinal syrah tones, stony soil notes, a bit of hay and incipient notes of the roasted game to come with further bottle age. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and still very primary, with a superb core, excellent soil signature, ripe, chewy tannins and outstanding length and grip on the focused and excellent finish. For those who lament where Noël Verset’s older vintages have gone in price in the last few years, here is an opportunity to buy another old school classic Cornas at a far more reasonable tariff."