The origins of the Courbis family estate date back to the 16th century. More recently, the brothers Dominique and Laurent Courbis succeeded their father, Maurice, in the early 1990s. They have since firmly established themselves as leaders of the modern school of winemaking in St Joseph and Cornas. The Courbis style may be summarized as offering wines filled with intense aromas and fruit of great purity and length. This is in large part achieved by a combination of meticulous and sustainable vineyard work undertaken to attain perfectly ripe, healthy, concentrated grapes and vinification and aging in both tanks and barriques. The wines emphasize the expression of fruit while highlighting the character of the various St-Joseph and Cornas vineyard origins..
The estate owns 26 hectares divided as follows: 5 ha in Cornas, 5 ha of St Joseph Blanc, and 15 hectares of St Joseph Rouge and 1 hectare of Vin de Pays de l’Ardeche. The vineyards are all on south and east facing slopes in the communes of Chateaubourg, Glun and Cornas. All the grapes are harvested by hand and yields are kept to an average of 30 hl/ha. The fruit is rigorously sorted and 100% de-stemmed. The maceration period for the Syrahs lasts between two and three weeks. The wines mature mostly in barriques which are new or up to three years old. The red wines are fined with egg yokes and are not filtered. They are bottled about two years after the harvest.
Domaine Courbis offers two exquisite, single-vineyard Cornas wines. The 1 hecatare, terraced Cornas Les Eygats site is situated at a relatively high 250 meters of altitude. It has pure granite soil and has an ideal south-east exposure. Les Eygats is aged entirely in barriques for 16 months, of which 50% are new and 50% and one year old. It is a highly concentrated wine, packed with smoky black fruit that can age for many years but is always inviting when young. The Cornas La Sabarotte parcel – widely considered to be among the very best sites of the appellation -- has extremely old vines (most planted in 1947 but some are even older) on a granite-limestone soil. La Sabarotte is aged in 100% new oak for 16 months and undergoes its malolactic fermentation in cask. It is Courbis’ most dramatic wine, showing saturated black-purple in color with layers of chewy, ripe, sweet fruit with black olive and berry, tar and mineral notes.
Also revealing an opaque purple color, the 2010 Cornas La Sabarotte exhibits gorgeous aromas of pen ink, spring flowers, smoked meats, graphite and massive quantities of blackberry and cassis fruit. This terrific Cornas will age gracefully for 20-25 years. One of the most quality conscious estates in the Northern Rhone, Domaine Courbis produces a trio of vineyard designated Cornas as well as two cuvees of impressive St.-Joseph. After the brilliant success of their 2009 vintage, I thought it would be difficult for this estate to equal what they achieved, but the 2010s are all stunning, and the 2011s are not far behind. The Courbis family has nearly 48 acres in St.-Joseph and another 20 in Cornas, making them a relatively impressive family-owned estate. The Cornas vineyards are planted in decomposed granite soils with little top soil. The Cornas Les Eygats emerges from what the Courbis brothers feel is their greatest micro-climate, from a terraced vineyard composed of broken granite, planted at an altitude of 250 meters. #204 Dec 2012
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