The small village of Cornas sits at the Southern end of the Northern Rhone where the steep granite slopes rise up on the West side of the Rhone River. The vineyards form something of a natural suntrap and given the more southerly location of Cornas, ripening grapes in Cornas poses less challenge in a typical vintage than can be the case in northern areas of Hermitage and Cote Rotié. On the steep slopes of Cornas, Syrah is the only variety that can be grown.
Toiling in the vineyards of Cornas is no easy task and modern viticultural methods (i.e., machines) are of little use given the precipitous slopes. It is the need to work everything by hand, as well as an international awakening to the high quality wine produced in Cornas, that makes these wines creep up the price ladder.
Johann Michel has been making wine since 1997. A humble and gentle fellow who we were fortunate enough to meet thanks to an introduction from our good friend and Saint Joseph producer, Julien Cecillon. Johann works to keep yields down and tends to his vineyards (Chaillot, Saveaux, and Bouyonnet) in an environmentally sustainable way (call it organic but not (yet) certified). Johann’s wines are soulful representations from Cornas that leave little doubt about from where they come. The true mastery that you’ll find in his wines is his touch of capturing ripeness, body and savage character, all while keeping the level of alcohol nicely in balance. True “Balanced Wine Selections”.
This is a guy we think you’ll be hearing a lot about in the years to come.
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