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Guillaume Gilles, CornasNorthern Rhône, France 2018 (750mL)

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Guillaume Gilles, Cornas Northern Rhône, France 2018 (750mL)

Fruit
Earth
Body
Tannin
Acid
Alcohol

Every time we think Guillaume Gilles’ wines just can’t get any better, this humble yet hyper-talented winemaker of Cornas releases a new vintage and blows our minds all over again. When we first tasted his Northern Rhône Syrahs long ago, we knew we were in the presence of something special. And as we’ve observed/admired his trajectory over the years—including a personal cellar visit and an unforgettable vineyard tour—Gilles has continuously exceeded our lofty expectations.


He’s now a bonafide superstar, and one of our favorite producers in the entire Northern Rhône. Today’s wine is quintessential, traditionally made Cornas that drips with robust, rustic notes of roasted meat, scorched earth, inky purple fruit, and savory spice. It’s built for serious longevity, but, as we were fortunate to observe in an early barrel tasting (Spring 2019), it’s also explosively ripe and remarkably accessible. Much of the fruit for today’s wine comes from the “Chaillot” vineyard, one of the two most revered sites in Cornas, and the source of Thierry Allemand’s coveted single-vineyard bottling (which will run you upwards of $300, if you can even find it). As you can see, for a wine of such stellar pedigree and renown, Gilles’ prices remain absurdly reasonable, and his 2018 presents a rare opportunity to experience Cornas at its finest. Up to four bottles per person.



As a young boy in Lyon, Gilles dreamed of a life amongst the vines—just like his grandfather, Marcel Juge, a deeply respected Cornas vigneron. In early adulthood, Gilles had the opportunity to learn the craft under some of the region’s top talents: the legendary Robert Michel and the even-more-legendary Jean-Louis Chave. By the time Michel retired following the 2006 vintage, Gilles was ready to take over his cellar and prime vineyard holdings, including those in “Chaillots.” The portion now farmed by Gilles, planted in the mid-to-late 1970s, sits on the higher slopes of the site. There, a complex mixture of soil types and expositions, including east-southeast-facing pure granite and south-facing clay-limestone terraces, contributes to the soaring complexity and concentration in today’s wine. The balance of the fruit in Gilles’ Cornas comes from “Mazards” and “Saveaux,” both planted in the 1950s. 
 
In the cellar, Gilles has done great justice to his noble mentors, adapting a classic approach and resisting the pressure to conform to the modern trend of excessively ripe, heavily oaked Cornas. One of the last “purists” of the appellation, Gilles farms all of his vines organically and by hand; never de-stems, fines, or filters; uses only ambient yeasts; vinifies in concrete; and ages his wine in large, neutral oak barrels. He knows how fortunate he is to work with such incredible vines, and sees it as his primary duty to let the fruit do its thing without getting in the way. 
 
Wild, savage, and intoxicatingly aromatic, Gilles’ 2018 Cornas reveals an almost-black hue of violet in the glass and erupts with deep, dark, and dense blueberry, blackberry, currant, and boysenberry fruit—the fruit is ripe, but in a sophisticated, expressive way; not bombastic or overbearing. Black pepper spice accentuates the intense umami notes of roasted meat, layered with nuances of kalamata olive, damp violet petals, wet stone minerality, crushed granite, and plenty of that trademark “scorched earth” character from which Cornas derives its name. While the influence of Robert Michel is palpable in terms of the soulful expression of terroir, Gilles takes a more robust, concentrated, and almost feral approach to Cornas, contrasting plush, opulent fruit with sanguine, savory elements. There is a striking interplay here between raw power and elegant, perfumed aromatics that makes this wine a sheer delight to drink today, although it’ll evolve for decades. If you opt to enjoy this in its youth, a 60-minute decant will open it up beautifully. Serve at 60 degrees in a large Bordeaux stem with a hearty pairing like blue cheese-crusted lamb chops or cassoulet.




Guillaume Gilles, Cornas Northern Rhône, France 2018 - SommSelect

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionNôrthern Rhone Valley
  • Sub-RegionCornas
  • SoilGranite
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendSyrah
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • OakNeutral French Barrels

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionNôrthern Rhone Valley
  • Sub-RegionCornas
  • SoilGranite
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendSyrah
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • OakNeutral French Barrels
  • Temp.Serve at 60-65° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2040+
  • Decanting60 Minutes
  • PairingGorgonzola Crusted Lamb Chops