Alain Verset, Cornas 2012
No one is more revered in Cornas than Noël Verset. But it is not widely known that Noël had a brother, Louis, who also made fine traditional Cornas from the family’s ancient Petite Syrah vines. Louis was never well-known here in the U.S.; his output was even smaller than Noël’s and his wines were never imported. And, while Noël finally retired in 2007 after 63 vintages, Louis stopped making wine in 1994.
Today his wines are impossible to find. Yet, Louis had a son, Alain, who took over the domaine upon his father’s retirement, and changed nothing. He continues to make fine old-school Cornas, still bearing the mythic Verset name. Alain inherited his vines from both father and uncle. Louis’ vines are in the great Reynards, Mazards and Les Côtes crus, but amount to only about a hectare. Noël’s vines are in Champelrose.
Alain only makes about 500 cases, which is unfortunate as his wine is a classic example of Cornas terroir and winemaking. He continues his family’s practice of whole-cluster fermentation with indigenous yeasts, aging for 1½ to 2 years in neutral casks and no fining or filtration. And like Louis and Noël, he makes no single-vineyard Cornas, preferring to make a single blend in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The Verset approach, steeped in history, tradition and terroir is on full display in Alain’s beautiful Cornas.
Deep ruby. Smoky dark berries, cured meat, olive and dried flowers on the pungent nose. Sappy and supple on the palate, offering pliant black and blue fruit flavors lifted by gentle acidity. Becomes sweeter with air and finishes on a spicy note, with chewy tannins adding shape and grip.