Inside one of the most Meridional parts of Northern Rhone areas, there is a small appellation where Syrah has an unique expression : Cornas*.
**Planted on steep South-East slopes that overlook the Rhône River, the vines get a lot of temperature variation during the day which permits to increase natural acidity. They are also maturing very well and are actually the first to be harvested in this "Septentrional" Rhone area**.
Eventually, Syrah behaves here with both deepness that you can find in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and freshness, elegance that you have in Côte Rotie. As a result, these wines need time to smooth down with tannins and acidity and that's the reason why they will stay two years in barrels before they are bottled.
With only 300 acres of vines on such a quality area, rare are the "OK" wines of Cornas. Michel Chapoutier, a quality vine owner and negociant is producing a nice Cornas that you should be able to find in quality wine stores. If you prefer the small family Estates, try to look for the Cornas from Domaine Dumien Serrette. At last, the coop of Tain l'Hermitage produces also a good Cornas with the advantage of a very fair price, which is always appreciated here.
You will enjoy Cornas with marinated meats cooked on the barbeque, like this very simple smoked pork chops recipe***. 2002, which was a good vintage in this area, is ready now and affordable. Otherwise, don't hesitate to leave some bottles in your cellar, they will age very well. By the way, if you have the chance to own some old vintages of Cornas, Côtes Rotie and Châteauneuf-du-Pape (like 1989 for example), put them together in a blind tasting and you will see how these wines can evolve to the same style of complexity with age.
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**Plantées sur des coteaux pentus Sud-Est qui dominent la Rivière du Rhône, les vignes recoivent de fortes variations de température pendant la journée, ce qui augmente l'acidité naturelle. Elles maturent également très bien et sont en fait les premières à être vendangées dans cette région septentrionale du Rhône.**
***Smoked pork chops recipe :
Ingredients for 4 people :
4 pork chops
4 sugar cubes
Put salted butter on potatoes and wrap them with tin foil. Prepare the sauce with soy, lemon and sugar until. Let the pork chops marinate for at least 24 hours and flip them a couple of times. Put the wraped potatoes on coals (45 minutes) and cook the pork on the barbeque, making sure that there won't be any flames. The meat must only be cooked by heat and smoke (5 minutes each side). When you take the pork chops out of the barbeque, put them right away in the original sauce. Serve warm or even cold with the potatoes.