DOMAINE AUGUSTE CLAPE
Now in his eighties, Auguste Clape is one of the few remaining old-school proponents of French winemaking, a pioneering and unassuming genius who falls almost effortlessly into the category of ‘great.’ In reality, of course, there has been much effort involved, with the Clapes inserting themselves into the northern Rhône landscape in the early 1900s to build their fortunes from next to nothing. Indeed, the Clape Syrahs from the Cornas appellation are among the most celebrated in France.
Auguste paved the way there as the first to bottle his own wine. Today he works alongside son Pierre and grandson Olivier, farming a mere eight hectares of precipitous terraces by hand using traditional methods.
Here, old vines are harvested as late as possible in a gamble with Nature to produce wines capable of tremendous longevity. The King, then, of Cornas, both because his wines are widely considered to be the best from this tiny appellation, and because he has at times fought single-handedly to maintain its integrity.