Saint-Joseph – Les Royes
100% Syrah. The terraced, cliff-like Saint-Joseph Les Royes vineyard is a spectacular “cirque” or extremely steep amphitheater. It is located at the southern limit of the Saint-Joseph appellation, on the border of Cornas. The exposition is to the south-east, so the amphitheater retains the heat of the day, while completely protecting the vines from northerly winds. The soil is a mixture of clay, granite, and limestone (the latter being the source of the small amount of Les Royes Blanc.) Yields are a miniscule 25 hl/ha and the vines average 30 years of age.
The Syrah grapes for Les Royes Rouge are given three weeks of maceration; they are fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged 100% in barrels, of which 1/3 are new; 1/3 one wine and 1/3 two wines. After 13 to 15 months in cask, the wine is assembled and aged for 3 additional months in tank before bottling. A profound and complex wine with sweet black cherry-raspberry fruit, notes of minerals and smoke, and ripe tannins that give it remarkable structure.
About the Producer
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 concentrated fruit with 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 together with fermenting in tanks and aging in barriques. The wines emphasize the expression of fruit while highlighting the specific character of the various St-Joseph and Cornas vineyard origins.
The estate owns 33 hectares divided as follows: 8 hectares in Cornas; 5 hectares of St Joseph Blanc; 19 hectares of St Joseph Rouge and 1 hectare of Syrah Vin de Pays de l’Ardèche. The vineyards are all on south and east facing slopes in the communes of Châteaubourg, Glun and Cornas. Because of the strong winds, the vines need to be tied up. All the grapes are harvested by hand, rigorously sorted and 100% de-stemmed. The maceration period for the Syrahs lasts between two and four weeks. The wines mature in barriques which are new or up to three years old. They are bottled between 18 months and two years after harvest.
The Courbis brothers produce some of the most compelling examples of St. Joseph and Cornas being made today. They have successfully combined their long family experience with a modern style, and their achievement has earned them international recognition. The wines are vegan.
Laurent and Dominique Courbis
Vinous report - 2017 & 2018 Northern Rhône - Josh Raynolds, 07:18:2019