Rhône's Old Guard
Marcel and Olga Juge Cornas 2004 & 2005
The Old (Traditional) Northern Rhône Lives!
Are you a fan of Trollat, Verset or Gentaz-Derivieux?
You know there is something truly special about the wines of the Northern Rhône's old guard.
These are guys who began their careers before the region's wines traveled very far (even Paris was a distant place), before there was an international wine media, before wine was reduced to a point score... this was back when winemaking reflected a very local, very tangible culture.
These old-school Northern Rhônes were sometimes brutal, sometimes ferocious or wild, but also somehow delicate, somehow beautiful - black olive and dark berries crushed together in granite. Structured wines that revealed a poetry with age, that wilted in "tasting competitions" yet danced on tables weighed down by meat, game, friends and laughter.
These are the Northern Rhônes we love. And while the greats of Trollat, Verset and Gentaz are impossible to find, today we announce a member of the old guard, still staunchly traditional, still pure, still well priced and available... for now.
For fans of traditional Northern Rhône wines, do not miss this offer. I don't think we've ever been so collectively excited about a new (old) Cornas as we are about the wines of Marcel and Olga Juge.
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."
Juge is certainly a case in point. Now somewhere around his eightieth birthday, Juge shows no intention of relaxing and enjoying retirement. Marcel Juge has in fact invoked a provision in the French law that allows him, post-retirement, to make a very small amount of wine as a "hobbyist."
He now makes only about 150 cases a year.
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.
This style of fragrant elegance along with Cornas' signature of meat, herbs, game and spice is best on display in Juge's "Cuvée C." The "C" here stands for Coteaux (or hill); this bottling is sourced from the vineyard of Combe, which is in the southern section of Cornas near St. Peray and where the sandy, weathered granite is known for producing aromatic and relatively supple wines.
However, Juge's style is also on display in his 2005 Cornas, which comes from the more centrally located vineyards of Cayret and Champelrose, both of which are known for their robust structures and earthy undertones.
Needless to say, both wines are worth having. Also needless to say, everything done here follows the dictates of tradition. The grapes are not destemmed and rest 18-24 months in casks up to 50 years old. The results are honest and charming, and I have to say that in an age where it seems like most wines are striving for profundity, the clarity, the ease and simplicity of these wines is invigorating.
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 this seems to be something in decline, if it is not simply inaccessible in this day. As such, you're strongly encouraged to stock up. We are.
To place your order, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the store at (212) 980-9463.
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