Cornas pioneer Pierre-Auguste Clape dies

Cornas pioneer Pierre-Auguste Clape dies

Pierre-Auguste Clape, a leading figure of the Cornas appellation in northern Rhône, has died at the age of 93.

Cornas producer Pierre-Auguste Clape dies

Considered one of the pioneers of the renewal of quality wines in Cornas, Clape was also viewed as a guardian of a traditional approach to winemaking in the northern Rhône.

In 1949, he married an heiress of the Frugier farming estate and subsequently decided to revive the property’s vineyard. It extended to only four hectares and was almost abandoned after the phylloxera crisis.

In the 1950s, while producing wine for Rhône negociants, Clape decided instead to bottle his wines at the estate – which was revolutionary at the time.

In the 1970s he was then one of the first to export his wines to the United States and England.

At the head of an 8.5-hectare estate, Pierre-Auguste Clape always favoured a traditional vision of Cornas wines.

Using vinification in whole bunches, long ageing in concrete vats and then in tuns, his wines were produced on the best granite slopes of the appellation and were considered among the best of the appellation.

He was also a tireless defender of the terroirs of Cornas, although he never made wines from specific parcels of vines.

He produced two wines: Cornas, from vines of 40 to 90 years of age, and Renaissance, a cuvée made from young vines.

On the steep slopes of the Reynards, the Sebarotte or the Côté, Pierre-Auguste Clape worked to give Cornas all its letters of nobility. It was in fact the creation of the Cornas wine market in the 1950s.

Today, his son Pierre-Marie Clape and grandson Olivier have continued the work of this rigorous and very discreet visionary.

See also: A full vintage report on Rhône 2016 wines, by Matt Walls

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