Domaine Guillaume Gilles
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.
Cotes du Rhone “Les Peyrouses”
This wine, feral and exciting, issues from an old vines parcel on the flats in Cornas. The soil is sand and clay overlain with large “galet” stones. The vinification is the same as is used for the more prestigious wines of the cellar. Best described as a “mini-Cornas”, it’s outside of its generic category of Cotes du Rhone.
Cornas “La Combe de Chaillot”
The only red in this cellar that suffers the fate of “destemming”. The vines are on the lower slopes of the Chaillot vineyard where the soil is granite with a slightly sandy consistency making for a less ferociously tannic wine, a touch more elegant and open in its youth. Also, the Combe de Chaillot is produced in miniscule quantity.
This is the grand wine of this tiny domaine. The vines are situation on the higher slopes of the Chaillot vineyard. The “terroir” is more complex here with a mixture of soil types and expositions. There are terraces of pure granite that are oriented east – southeast; then, these are supplemented by terraces that sit on a clay-limestone base that have a full southern exposure. The grapes are never destemmed, the cuvaison is long (30 days) and the elevage is in demi-muids for eighteen months. As with the other wines of the domaine, this wine is neither fined nor filtered.