2007 Paul Jaboulet Aîné, “Les Grandes Terrasses”, Cornas, France
The Wine of the Week by Annette Tomei
Cornas, the tiny appellation at the southernmost end of the northern Rhône Valley, is – in its entirety, smaller than the primary estate of the d’Arenberg family in the McLaren Vale in Australia (110 hectares vs. 113 hectares) – same grape, different world. The wines of Cornas are made from 100% Syrah, the primary dark-skinned grape of the northern Rhône Valley (commonly known as Shiraz in Australia).
The steep, sun-drenched slopes of Cornas assure that machine farming will never be practical, just as they also assure low yields and intense, supple wines. Though long considered to be the “country bumpkin” compared to its sophisticated neighbor, Hermitage, Cornas is now experiencing a revival of sorts, both at home with renewed attention to quality and abroad in the international media
Paul Jaboulet Aîneé has produced wine in the Rhône Valley since 1834. The Frey family acquired the company in 2006. Under the care of Caroline Frey, they have made significant improvements to the quality of the wines, and renewed the energy and reputation of this long-respected name. “Les Grande Terrasses” is a reference to the extremely steep, granite terraces where the 45+-year-old vines grow. This wine is aged for 12 months in 20% new oak.
The 2007 vintage, though still available, is not the current vintage (that would be the 2009 at this time). This wine is deep garnet in color with aromas of roast meat, black pepper, and ripe plums. The rich flavors are consistent with the aroma and have a lingering smoky spiciness. The hearty tannins are well balanced by a plum-like tartness. If you’re planning ahead for Thanksgiving, this is a red to consider, especially if your tastes lean toward the more savory flavors of the season – roast meats, hearty roast vegetables, and game birds. This is also a wonderful accompaniment for duck confit, cassoulet, or earthy lentil soup.
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