Dumien-Serrette Cornas 'Patou' 2018
100% Syrah. A bird’s eye view of ‘Patou,’ like so many northern Rhone plots, reveals a minuscule vineyard, more akin to a postage stamp. Blink, and you might miss it. But such is the story of Syrah on these steeply graded, granite slopes: generations-old families cherished the few ancient vines they had, usually selling their precious crop to the larger producers—Delas, Jaboulet, Chapoutier—upriver. Winemaker Nicholas Serrette’s father, Gilbert, did just that for years until in the early 1980s they decided it was long time to try crafting a Cornas that best reflected both their soils and their family’s centuries of toil. In Celtic, Cornas means “burnt earth,” which tells you volumes about the dry, warm conditions on these steeply graded stopes. Soils are primarily granite; vineyards are small and challenging to cultivate, given the abrupt drops and eroded faces of many of Cornas’ hillsides. Nicolas farms according to organic principles, but the estate is not certified. Grapes are harvested by hand and tread by foot in cement tanks. Fermentation happens on wild yeasts, then the marc is pressed in an old-fashioned, hand-cranked basket press with aging happening in old, neutral barrels. Patou is the family vineyard with an average age of the vines at 70 years old. This is traditional Cornas, aromas of black fruit, anise, and earth with mouth-filling, suave yet grippy tannins and a long, long finish. A wine that evolves in the glass as the night lingers on. Do not miss this Cornas, as Nicholas is one of the few winemakers keeping the ancient traditions alive in the Rhone.