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MAY 2014

2012 CROZES-HERMITAGE RED: the review of this vintage has been posted under 2012 NORTHERN RHÔNE, THE LEADING WINES. The vintage there is full of fruit and fun in the best examples, with a good showing from both sectors – the flat plain of Les Chassis and the hilly sector of the villages around Gervans. Recently drunk with great pleasure, for example, was the 2012 GILLES ROBIN PAPILLON RED, a wine to target for any convivial picnic or outdoor event this summer.

As triumphs go, this ranks highly. Our CHEVAL MASCOT, the mighty CORNAS, has risen from his retirement box, travelled to France, to the Loire no less, and given the locals a right duffing up. ALLEZ CORNAS! His trainer, the West Country Maestro NICK WILLIAMS, porteur or sporteur if you like of fine country casquettes, had hinted to me early this year that perhaps CORNAS would not be altogether retired, and so it proved.

SYRAH beats CABERNET FRANC: yes, it was in a Cross Country race just to the west of Angers, in ANJOU wine country, that CORNAS prevailed, in the Prix Maurice Foucher – bonjour, Maurice - over 2 miles, 5.5 furlongs. In winning the race, Cornas, now a 12 year old, beat a horse half his age who had previously won three races in Pau, down in the South-West of France. For a 12 year old to do this is remarkable - his year at school are already fully clad in their slippers.

The race review stated: “always prominent, jumped well, led 13th fence, joined at 15th, led again 4 fences out, ridden 3 out and rallied, hard pressed last fence, stayed on gamely under pressure to assert final 50 yards.”

Even the bare words provoke images of toil and honest endeavour, suited to the grey and brown granite slopes of Cornas in the Ardèche, as much they apply to the lush green pastures of the middle Loire Valley. BRAVO, CORNAS! Your world fan base will be delighted. Cue more opening of Cornas, perhaps a wholehearted vintage such as 1989 or, more recently, 2005.