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stirring the lees with james molesworth

Urbanization in Cornas

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Aug 17, 2007 10:00am ET

There’s a current proposal afoot to take 3.4 hectares (just over 8 acres) of vineyard land in Cornas and rezone it for housing. While it might not seem like much, 3.4 hectares represents a significant portion of the appellation, which totals only 100 hectares (247 acres) of vineyards. Cornas has no room to grow. It’s a unique granite hillside, with full south, southeast exposure, so it can never get bigger, only smaller. The proposal puts two prime lieux-dits located near the base of the hill of Cornas—the Mazards and Chaillots parcels—in the crosshairs.

True, Cornas still doesn’t command the respect of its more northerly Syrah-producing neighbors, Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. But that doesn’t make it any less important. Cornas produces wild, gamy wines full of olive and briar notes, backed by sometimes rigid, chalky tannins. They’re not for the uninitiated. But anyone who has had aged bottles of Noël Verset, A. Clape or Thierry Allemand can tell you that they are a singular experience.

The appellation has also improved markedly in the last generation, and there are a number of new growers, producers such as Domaine Courbis, Eric & Joël Durand, Domaine du Coulet, Vincent Paris and Domaine du Tunnel, who are making names for themselves alongside the historical leaders such as Alain Voge and Jean-Luc Colombo.

The proposal is currently up for public review through the end of September, so all those opposed and in favor of it have a few weeks to get their two cents in. One of the vignerons in Cornas who is leading the fight to stop the proposal is Albéric Mazoyer at Domaine Alain Voge, and you can reach out to him through their website (www.alain-voge.com). I’ve sent a letter to the mayor of Cornas, who supports the rezoning, noting my opposition to it. If you feel like it, you can drop him a line at:

 
Vineyards could be destroyed if land is rezoned in Cornas for housing.  


Monsieur Gilbert Garnier
Mairie de Cornas
07130 Cornas, France

Yes, urbanization is a necessity of the modern world, but I’d rather it not come at the expense of longstanding traditions and culture. I can’t tell France’s growing population where to live, but I can say that France’s wine tradition is one of the reasons so many Americans adore the country. And what wine lover doesn’t hate to see serious vineyard land anywhere go under the bulldozer?

Anacleto Ludovic
paris france  —  August 17, 2007 4:10pm ET
i believe james that even more critical its what is happened in ribera del duero , were the spanish state wants to build a highway in plain center of the DO Ribera were several vineyards INCLUDING Vega Sicilia are going to be split and have thousands of car running all day long in the middle of the vinetards! unfortunatly, humans love to sacrifice land instead of spending more money to make another path for roads or urbanizations. In france for example, their is millions of hectars availlable to build but no, they build in vineyards its mor funny isnt it!!! Anyway thanks for relaying this info un grand merci Ludovic
Scott Oneil
UT —  August 17, 2007 6:25pm ET
James, Thanks for the info. A noble cause, to be sure. When I visited Voge's website, however, I repeatedly got a "The page cannot be found" when I hit the English language button (Union Jack). Is there some other way for those of us whose French is not advanced enough to read a webpage?
Anacleto Ludovic
paris france  —  August 18, 2007 3:13am ET
if somebody need to translate in french any letter to the mayor of cornas i will be more than glad to do it just let me know and i will give my email thanks for the support ludovic
Johann Rupert
South Africa —  August 19, 2007 6:30am ET
James, Jancis Robinson asked "everyone who feels similarly inspired, to send an email to vinparis@wanadoo.fr saying ¿Sauvez Les Mazards! Comme amateur de vin, je suis contre le project d¿urbanisation ¿ornas¿ and append their name, address, email address and, optionally, their profession. (If you want to know what you¿re saying, and don¿t speak French, it means: ¿Save Les Mazards! As a winelover I am opposed to the urbanisation project in Cornas¿.)"
Anacleto Ludovic
paris france  —  August 19, 2007 2:30pm ET
for the ones who received johann comment with several bugs here it is :sauvez Les Mazards, comme amateur de vin je m oppose au projet d urbanisation a Cornas!send it to vinparis@wanadoo.frregards
James Molesworth
August 20, 2007 9:29am ET
Scott: You're right, their website has some kinks. Try this url:

http://www.alain-voge.com/gb/accueil.cfm

And check the link in the upper right hand corner.

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