When Robert Michel, our long-time vigneron in Cornas, decided to retire after the 2006 vintage, he did us the enormous favor of introducing us to Guillaume Gilles, a young vigneron resident in Cornas who, it turns out was Michel’s protégé. In fact, not only did Robert Michel mentor the young Guillaume Gilles, he also leased his prime parcel in the Chaillot vineyard to him and provided his cave (with all its history and secrets!) for Gilles’ use. It has been, then, a nearly seamless transition for us from Michel to Gilles.
Guillaume Gilles is convinced that Cornas is at its best when one follows the most traditional of paths. Like Michel, he eschews the destemmer (in virtually all cases), works his vineyards by hand, ages his wine in old demi-muids and bottles without fining or filtering. His Cornas is as it should be and is exactly as we like it: brawny, sometimes austere, profound, sauvage. He cultivates his vineyards with an organic philosophy and his wines are made using the natural yeasts from his grapes. He produces three wines, two of which are in excruciatingly limited supply.
Copper sulfate only
Annual hoeing and ploughing to maintain vineyard health
Granite and limestone-clay
Staked and head trained, vines were planted at 6,000 vines/ha in the 1870’s, 1950’s, 1976-1978, and 2009-2013.
Controlled through severe winter pruning, debudding, and an occasional green harvest, yields average c. 35-40 hl/ha
Entirely manual, usually in mid-September
Entirely estate fruit
Wines ferment spontaneously as whole clusters in concrete vats. Cuvaison lasts 20+ days
Wines seem punch downs during cuvaison
Vertical basket press
Spontaneous, in vat following alcoholic fermentation
18 months in neutral 600 and 400-l demi-muids
Wines are racked off their gross lees after cuvaison and remain on their fine lees until assemblage prior to bottling
Fining and Filtration
All wines are unfined and unfiltered
No more than 60 mg/l total sulfur