Some Syrah was walking in the deep, dark wood…

I’ve never really got on with wines from Domaine Courbis, so when I suddenly found myself standing in front of the wine fridge, out of the blue, holding this bottle I not only pondered how I got there, but I was veritably vexed how it had infiltrated my sancto sanctorum. It cannot have been left by someone after a tasting, I wouldn’t have accepted it. I certainly didn’t buy it and I’ve menaced The Editor to a sufficient degree to be sure he’s not responsible. I can only imagine there is some sly conspiracy by slightly joyless wines to invade and populate my wine fridge so they can reduce the jollity-quotient of my habitually mirthful visage.

I won’t prime you with Courbis’ stylistic misdemeanours in advance and, as I haven’t tasted this yet I don’t know if it’s poxed by them, but previous Courbis encounters made me decant this wine for a good half hour, with lots of swirling, before we consumed it. Will this be yet another one of those unique interpretations of Cornas-style we’ve had to endure since ‘Papa’ Verset gave up and a good dose of the Clape began to cost more than a roll in the hay with a cleaner member of minor royalty… Oooohhhh…. bums, it’s not going to be all that Cornas-y is it? Oh well, open mind and all that; perk up Davy and let’s dive in!

Cornas La Sabrotte 2005 from Domaine Courbis.Cornas ‘La Sabrotte’ 2005, Domaine Courbis

I’m glad I decanted this. When I was swirling I noticed a slight hint of farts and the dreaded Northern Rhone beetroot curse, but now it’s time to drink those have completely gone. Indeed, if you find evil darkness brooding malevolently in the shadiest corner of a brand new wooden orange box to be a good thing you could describe this as even reaching attractiveness. But examine your aesthetic standards, man! That dark fruit nose is a bit hot with alcohol, monolithic with ripeness and it’s pretty oaky for an eight year old wine. Indeed, the whole thing seems very young indeed. I’m all for things needing time but they should develop faster than the movement of a football supporter’s finger following the lines of text in The Sun to assist reading. It’s squeaky clean which I suppose I prefer to pooily Brett-y, but this nose is a collection of near misses and off-target shots for one after a decent Cornas experience. We are starting proceedings rather unimpressed, Domaine Courbis; pull socks up for the palate phase of the endeavour! My, what an aggressively oaky palate. We’ll get to the other stuff, which there thankfully is, in a moment, but my primary, and secondary come to think of it, impressions are that this wine infused with thick, sticky oak sap that oozes around your mouth, banging splinters in soft parts when you are taking a quick few seconds to recover from nigh-on weeping. I’m don’t give tuppence for loons like Jean-Luc Colombo ravings or the new (bastard) owners of Jaboulet’s diseased views, there’s no way Cornas, or indeed any Northern Rhone Syrah should be abused with this much oak. It’s fabulously unnerving for those of us raised on refined, beautiful Cornas. Syrah just doesn’t need vast amounts of vanillia-y, tannic oak treatment, it needs more appropriate treatment, such as filtering before bottling. Once you battle your way out of your new oak sensory-overload cell the booze is ready to swoop in and sedate you. It’s not rocket fuel, but it’s distractingly warm and sweet. The fruit is quite nice, what you can taste of it, as are the few discernible elements of the grape tannins – nice but not quite rugged enough. The palate has also shown little development since bottling and that’s just not big and clever. And lets bang the final nails in this wreck of a coffin by saying the enthusiasm of a 14 year old boy, who discovered his father’s stash of rhythm mags and his mother’s turkey baster at the same time,  wouldn’t be enough to move beyond describing this as pretty short and dimensionless. Some people would try to defend this saying is meant to be a modern interpretation of Cornas for long-ageing. Crap! There’s so little Cornas here you’d need a medium to interpret it and all it will age to is acrid, dry oak juice. I suppose a really feeble line would be that the palate is slightly better than the nose. Deary me! The palate is just an infinitesimally smaller dog turd you’ve trodden in than the dog turd of a nose you were trying to avoid with poorly co-ordinated steps. There is no defence for this appalling waste of Cornas vineyards and grapes, I’m appalled. This is as sub-interest as pricy Northern Rhones get; my vivacious visage as been distinctly dimmed.