Bottled in June 2021, the 2019 Cornas la Sabarotte delivers huge doses of pristine blueberry and cherry fruit despite being aged in a combination of new and one-year-old barrels. It's full-bodied, rich and tannic but supple, with a long, lively finish. Stylistically, it nicely epitomizes what consumers have come to expect from the Courbis family.
It was great to be back at the Courbis's hillside tasting room in the tiny commune of Châteaubourg, hosted by the always genial Laurent Courbis. We started with prepared barrel samples of the 2020s, a vintage which he said, "[is] ripe but fresh, aromatic, with great balance, similar to 2017." We then moved into the bottled 2019s, which are another solid vintage for the Courbis family, although maybe lacking some of the spark of 2020. These are modern, ripe, sometimes oaky wines that I'm sure make some purists wince but which provide immense pleasure and have yet to see prices soar out of reach.
Drink 2025 - 2040
Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate (January 2022)
About this WINE
With a history spanning several generations, Domaine Courbis has earned a stellar reputation for producing exceptional wines that reflect the unique terroir of the Northern Rhône Valley of France.
The estate was founded in 1958 by Maurice Courbis and is now run by his two sons, Laurent and Dominique Courbis. The family's passion for winemaking and deep respect for tradition and innovation have contributed to their success and acclaim.
The vineyards are situated on steep slopes characteristic of the region. The estate primarily cultivates two renowned appellations: Saint Joseph and Cornas, which are known for producing some of the finest Syrah wines in the world.
The vineyards span approximately 35 hectares (86 acres) and are meticulously maintained. The emphasis on sustainable farming practices, such as organic and biodynamic viticulture, ensures the health of the vines and the preservation of the environment. The careful selection of vineyard sites and low-yielding vines produces grapes with intense flavours and optimal ripeness.
With a commitment to excellence, a focus on terroir-driven wines, and a family heritage rooted in winemaking tradition, Domaine Courbis continues to shine as a respected and esteemed producer in the Northern Rhône, offering a portfolio of wines that capture the essence of the region and delight wine lovers around the world.
Cornas is a small appellation, just 150 hectares, located south of St Joseph. It’s on the west side of the river. The name “Cornas” comes from an old Celtic dialect term, meaning “burnt land”, so it’s no surprise that on the steep terraces here, facing south, temperatures are significantly higher than those in Hermitage, which is just 7km away.
The granite soils are home to the Syrah grape, producing reds that sit somewhere between those of Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. These are strong and powerful wines, with nervy acidity and a robust, rustic charm to them. Their prominent tannins mean that they often demand time in the cellar to express their underlying elegance and complexity.
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.