is a French wine
French wine is produced in several regions throughout France, in quantities between 50 and 60 million hectolitres per year, or 7–8 billion bottles. France has the world's second-largest total vineyard area, behind Spain, and is in the position of being the world's largest wine producer...
Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée
Appellation d’origine contrôlée , which translates as "controlled designation of origin", is the French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products, all under the auspices of the government bureau Institut National...
(AOC) in the northern Rhône wine region
The Rhône wine region in Southern France is situated in the Rhône river valley and produces numerous wines under various Appellation d'origine contrôlée designations...
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...
south of Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....
. It is one of the smallest appellations in the Rhône valley and produces only red wine, from the Syrah grape.
The name Cornas is Celtic
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...
for "burnt earth", and the first written sources mention wine in the region as early as 885. Both Louis XV and Cardinal Richelieu are said to have been admirers of the wine. Cornas became an official appellation in 1938 although it was not until 1950 that the first local producers began bottling the wine themselves.
Climate and geography
Cornas, along with the rest of the northern Rhône, has a continental climate rather than the Mediterranean climate found in the south. However unlike some of the other northern Rhône appellations, Cornas is mostly shielded from the cold le mistral
The mistral is a strong, cold and usually dry regional wind in France, coming from the north or northwest, which accelerates when it passes through the valleys of the Rhone and the Durance Rivers to the coast of the Mediterranean around the Camargue region. It affects the northeast of the plain...
winds that can last into the Spring, and is often the first appellation in the north to begin the harvest. The vineyard
A vineyard is a plantation of grape-bearing vines, grown mainly for winemaking, but also raisins, table grapes and non-alcoholic grape juice...
s are just north of Valence
Valence is a commune in southeastern France, the capital of the Drôme department, situated on the left bank of the Rhône, south of Lyon on the railway to Marseilles.Its inhabitants are called Valentinois...
, in a fairly small area of steep slopes facing east south east, south of Tain l'Hermitage. The vineyards are situated at anything between 100 meters and 400 meters above sealevel. In the northern part, especially near "Les Chaillot
", the soil contains chalk but is mostly sandy and rocky, with characteristic reddish-brown dirt. The sunny sector of "Quartier de Reynard
" which has vines at 300 meters has a granite soil. To the south, near "La Côte
" and "La Combe
", the soil is mostly clay. It is a small appellation of only 90 hectares, with an average output of 4,000 hl. By way of comparison there are individual châteaux in Bordeaux which produce more wine than the entire Cornas appellation.
Grapes and wine
Along with most wines produced in the northern Rhône, Cornas is a red wine made from the Syrah grape. Unlike other northern Rhône red wines, no addition of white grapes is permitted, and no white wines are produced. Any wines designated Cornas AOC will be made from 100% Syrah by law. Although growers could plant different grape varieties in Cornas, the appellation is planted exclusively with Syrah as any wine made from other grapes would have to be sold under a different label, probably Côtes du Rhône AOC
Côtes du Rhône is a wine-growing Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée for the Rhône wine region of France, which may be used throughout the region, also in those areas which are covered by other AOCs...
and as a result would fetch a lower price.
used to produce wines which required long ageing, but under the impulse of winemaker Jean-Luc Colombo, a new more fruit forward style has emerged. However, several producers still produce a more traditional style which typically requires 6–7 years in barrel and bottle before it is approachable.