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We have previously written about the excellent 2015 vintage in the northern Rhône, where late season rains served to freshen and revive the grapes which were suffering from heat and drought. The resulting wines have proved to be superb with beautiful concentration and ripeness, brightened by firm acidities and with good structure for aging. We're very happy to offer two beautiful 2015 Cornas from the very traditional estate of Gilbert and Nicolas Serrette.
The Dumien name can be found mentioned in Cornas as far back as 1515. In 1925, before Cornas was recognized as an AOC in 1938, the family purchased the 1.8 hectares of vineyards which constitute their current estate. Most of this land, 1.5 hectares of it, is found in the Patou vineyard, which has primarily granitic soils; the remainder is located in Les Savaux. The vines in Patou date back to the 1920’s, with some even exceeding 100 years old. After years of selling in bulk to negociants such as Delas, Chapoutier and Jaboulet, Domaine Dumien-Serrette began to bottle their own wine in 1983.
Although the estate is not certified organic, the vineyard work is all done by hand and only organic fertilizers are used. The vines are trained into two-vine canopies to protect against wind and hail. The Patou vineyard is very steep and Gilbert, who is in his 60’s, still insists on tending the vines using a special cart he invented which pulls him slowly up the rows while he works.
The estate's principal wine is the "Cuvée Patou." The grapes, from 20 to 90 year-old vines, are pressed with an old-fashioned basket press and aged 2 years in 2 to 7-year-old barrels. The estate’s total annual production is around 300 to 500 cases and Madame Serrette still labels each bottle by hand. Since 2013 a new cuvée from vines planted in 1913 has been made, simply called "Cuvée Henri" after Gilbert's father. For this micro-cuvée the grapes are not de-stemmed and the wine ages for two years in one to three year-old barrels. The 2015 Cuvée Patou is an extraordinary wine, particularly given the reasonable price. The rare and beautiful "Cuvée Henri" is certainly one of the finest Cornas from this great vintage and belongs in the cellar of any lover of the northern Rhône! (Wines arrive Friday 1/12)
"Patou" is a vineyard in the southern portion of Cornas with vines planted from the 1920s to the 1990s on granite soils. The grapes are mostly de-stemmed, fermentations are with wild yeasts and the wine ages for approximately 2 years in 3 to 7 year-old barrels. While we don't like using other people's notes, we love what our friend John Livingstone-Learmonth wrote about this wine: "dark red robe. The nose is grilled, meaty, has a primal nature, real entrails in the glass, with pine, basil. The palate also gives pine woven into its plump blackcurrant content, and a broad, rounded mass. The tannins are ripe, supple, well entered. This is full-blooded, STGT (wine of terroir) Cornas, big on character, for the aficionados. It goes well long. Stand back: a freight train is coming! 13.5° alc." While it's quite impressive now, best to wait a few years then drink until 2035.
From Syrah planted in 1913 in the lieu-dit "Patou" on granite soils in the southern sector of Cornas. Whole cluster fermentation, aged two years in one to three year-old barrels, 600 bottles produced. The 2015 "Henri" is a real "black wine of Cornas," showing a dense red/black color and aromas of game and deep blackberry and black raspberry fruit with prune, black pepper, orange blossom and bitter chocolate. The palate is densely textured with chocolatey black raspberry fruit liqueur, earth, licorice and garrigue flavors, showing a great combination of ripeness, power and firm acidity that bodes well for aging. The finish is remarkably long with elegant fruit and mineral flavors lingering on the palate. This is a beautiful Cornas that will be at it's best from 2025-2035 and beyond. David Lillie