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02.27.2005

2000 Domaine Alain Voge "Cuvée Vieilles Vignes", Cornas (Rhone), France

In 1950, just after the war, a bushel of peaches was worth more than a case of local wine from Cornas. That didn't stop Alain Voge from making it, though. His family had already been at it for three generations, and Voge, who was just taking over the management of the estate from his father, wasn't about to change things. Indeed, not much ever changes at Domaine Alain Voge, and according to Voge and his wife, along with countless devotees, that is not a bad thing. Voge has been farming the same 14 acres of 50+ year old vines for nearly 50 years himself, and generally produces somewhere around 2000 cases of wine. Because of the age of these vines nearly all of his wine is labeled with the optional designation "Vieilles Vignes."

The Cornas region is the southernmost of the red wine appellations in the Northern Rhone Valley and it's tiny, holding a little more than 200 acres of vines (by comparison there are many single estates in Bordeaux which exceed this acreage). The appellation is characterized by south/southeast facing slopes of shallow schist based soils that are basically pulverized granite, hinting at the solid bedrock that lies not to far under the surface. The entirety of the appellation is planted with Syrah, which grows deep, dark, and tannic on these steep slopes.

Needless to say, then, this wine is 100% Syrah, and made in a traditional style, but one that is more refined than some wines in the Cornas region. It is made from almost entirely destemmed grapes that are fermented in concrete vats for nearly a month before being put into oak barrels (25% of which are now) for secondary fermentation and aging for up to 18 months.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is a deep purple black in the glass with a subdued but rich nose of blackberry and blueberry with notes of cassis. In the mouth it is elegant and surprisingly smooth with primary flavors of blackberry and crushed stones that taper to a significant finish that is remarkably high toned.

Food Pairing:
I served this wine at a wine dinner recently to accompany a roast rib-eye of fresh lamb and some slow braised lamb shoulder, both done in a Provencal style.

Overall Score: 9

How Much?: $45

There are a few places on the Internet where you can purchase this wine.

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