Alain Verset, Cornas 2013

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By C4

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.

92-93 points Vinous / IWC

... Smoke- and spice-accented scents of dried cherry, black currant and violet pastille complicated by a hint of olive paste. Juicy and smooth on the palate, offering intense, deeply concentrated dark berry and licorice flavors and a touch of cracked pepper. Comes off elegant and precise, finishing with thrust and gentle, harmonious tannins...

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