To all Best Winers,
You say you want a Revolution? Well, you know. We all want to change the world.
There’s a lot of us out there that want to change our worlds. Make our mark. Do something different.
Doing something different for the sake of being different is one thing. But taking the chance to do something different to better yourself or the people around you is another.
I think Matthieu Barret is doing something different, and making the people around him better.
He is one of the ‘new guard’ in Cornas which, considering how he is producing his wines, may seem a little more ‘old guard’ when I think about it.
But he’s ‘old school’ in a different way. The wines he makes are classical, modern retro interpretations of the mind-numbingly great terroir he oversees in Cornas. By the way, for the money, I honestly believe Cornas is the best region in the northern Rhone (hope nobody based in Cote Rotie or Hermitage is reading this...).
Cornas is all Syrah, all the time, farmed on steep terraces and blessed with a fair amount of old vines. Up until about 15 years ago I don’t think many folks cared about Cornas. Many of the producers there were older, frankly uninspired, a lot of dirty cellars. Cornas was essentially a very fast muscle car in dire need of a tune-up, a detail, new sparkplugs, etc.
A couple producers in the 90’s tried to tune it up, but they gave the muscle car a ‘manicure’, made it pretty, put the wrong paint on it. I’m mixing my metaphors, but I don’t care, I think you get the point.
Matthieu Barret and a couple other ‘young guns’ in the appellation are currently putting Cornas back together again. Mattieu’s Domaine du Coulet is currently one of the hottest domains in the zone, and here’s why. Less is more.
I wouldn’t put Matthieu in the ‘natural wine’ camp. He works naturally, but conscientiously. There are no ‘lab experiments’ here, he actually uses a little (not too much!) sulfur at bottling. He farms biodynamically and makes the wine with a very minimal intervention approach, but there are no farm animals (or old shoes) that I’m aware of in the cellars.
I guess you could say these are very pure but coddled expressions of Syrah. Grown naturally, aged naturally, but protected from harm. Matthieu doesn’t want additives or any of that funky stuff in the wine, nor does he want microbes or some of the dirty, stinky stuff that finds its way into ‘natural’ (read unprotected) wines of which whose many merits are espoused by certain members of the wine press.
He makes four cuvées of Cornas, and we’re happy to offer today his (in our opinion) top two, in his greatest vintage ever, at some pretty hot prices.
His 2009 Cornas Les Terrasses du Serre (Wine Spectator 95!) is produced from a very old granite soil. It is composed of three of the top vineyard sites in Cornas (Les Arlettes, Les Reynards and La Patronne) and carries a hefty 45 year old average vine age. Part of it ages in 400-500 liter barrels (bigger than your standard Burgundy or Bordeaux barrel) while about a third ages in shiny, new concrete eggs (they work, trust us...).
Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth has a pretty fine tasting note on this one, stating, “This really stands apart from the crowd, with searingly intense minerality cutting through a massive core of pastis, plum sauce and fig paste. Gorgeous violet and spice notes fill in the background, while charcoal and tar thunder through the finish. Broad in scope, but still has perfect focus.”
Usually sporting a $90 retail (if you can find it), Best Wine’s price is, of course, substantially lower. Like. $25 a bottle lower. Only $64.88
His 2009 Cornas Billes Noires (Wine Spectator 96) is a little heftier than the Terrasses du Serre. Here the wine is 100% from the Les Arlettes vineyard with an average vine age of 55 years. He only makes around 450 cases so there are no concrete eggs here, the entire production resting in larger barrels prior to a natural, unfiltered bottling.
Spectator’s James Molesworth called it, “A new paradigm for Cornas.” And we can’t argue with that. The retail on this “new paradigm” is usually around $120 seen as only around 50 cases make it into the states. We’re knocking a third off that price.
BTW, there are a whopping 10 Magnums of the 2009 Terrasses du Serre also currently available for those of you looking to ‘go big’. They look totally cool...
Do not let either one of these groundbreaking wines to pass you by...
Kyle Meyer and Tristen Beamon, Proprietors, BestWinesOnline.com