A tasting of the various lieu-dits suggest a fairly classic vintage, on the riper side but not as ripe as 2015, with well-balanced acidity and ripe tannins that are relatively approachable for this domain. Some tanks showed a little raised volatile acidity, which may show up in the final blend. They will make Renaissance this year; tanks yet to be selected at this stage, so the score is very much just an early indication. Some rain in May had Pierre Clape worried about mildew, but a few treatments with copper did the trick - there was a little on his whites but not his reds. A relaxed harvest started on the 12th of September, fermentations were long with no destemming as usual, fermented in concrete, aged in large old oak barrels. (MW)
Spice- and mineral- accented dark berry, smoky bacon and floral pastille scents show excellent delineation and pick up deeper licorice and olive paste notes with air. Sappy and expansive in the mouth, offering juicy boysenberry, bitter cherry and spicecake flavors that show outstanding depth and are lifted by a potent mineral flourish. Powerful yet lively in character, delivering solid finishing thrust and closing with noteworthy tenacity and youthfully chewy tannins that build steadily. (JR)
The flagship comes largely from the Reynard lieu-dit (unquestionably one of the finest vineyards in the appellation) and the oldest vines of the estate. The lots destined for this cuvée offered another level of richness and depth, with more opulence and decadence than most recent vintages. Full-bodied, concentrated, and tannic on the palate, it’s going to require patience. The 2015 was even more tannic and backward at this stage, but there’s more than a touch of greatness in this beauty. Pierre-Marie Clape and his son Olivier continue to make some of the most impressive (as well as singular) wines in the world from their tiny cellar in Cornas. This is a bastion of traditional winemaking and the wines are not destemmed, see long fermentations, and aging in ancient barrels and casks. While they didn’t release a Renaissance cuvée in 2017 due to tiny yields, their Cornas is stunning stuff not far off what was achieved in 2010 and 2015. I suspect the 2018 will match, or exceed, the 2017.
Cask samples tasted at the domaine. Sample cuvée 1: Mazards and Pied La Vigne. Leathery nose, quite repressed fruit. Peppery and elegant. Light, delicate style – especially for Cornas. Supple tannins. Sample cuvée 2: Reynards young vines. Leather, aniseed, black cherry. Upfront fruit, with more juice than sample cuvée 1, but less persistence. Sample cuvée 3: Petite Côte. Rich black fruit. Spicy-sausage complexity. Violets too. Leathery and length, and opens in the glass. Sample cuvée 4: Sabarotte. So fragrant! Liquorice, leather, stables and black fruit. Great poise and precision with high acid and softer tannins than expected. Sample cuvée 5: La Côte. Fairly closed and dense with lots of fruit power and chewy tannic grip. No spice here, it's all dark fruits. Sample cuvée 6: Reynards vieilles vignes. Black-cherry fruit, beefy nose, fully tannic and heady. Seems like the engine room of a blend. (RH) 18/20
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