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GOOD VIBRATIONS

Domaine Courbis

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Some family stories are built on shifting sands, while others rise fully-formed from the ground. Take the Courbis family of Châteaubourg.

The roots of their estate date back to 1587 – practically an eternity, and God only knows where the family’s first vine stood! What Dominique and Laurent Courbis do know, however, is that their father was the first to clear some land and plant on the spectacular hillsides above the village, with their panoramic views to the Rhône-Isère confluence. “In the mid-sixties, he pioneered the idea of making life difficult for oneself in order to make good wines.” Trouble must certainly be taken to tend this quite beautiful vineyard: the steep amphitheatre of terraces form dizzying waves of vegetation that defy the vignerons with each new vintage.

Such a terroir is sure to ask a lot of humans. Which is fine, because the Courbis brothers have no time for the easy option. “I’m just a hard-working guy” was Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s reply to those who fêted his melodic genius. Dominique and Laurent have also worked hard to improve their quality and rigour, persevering with the tougher path, such as planting vines on steep gradients in Saint-Joseph… In this and other appellations, the Courbis brothers make upfront, subtle, elegant and full-bodied wines, with highly respected single-plot cuvées but also a seductive IGP Syrah. But there are no trumpets blown, just open minds.

Dominique, who has worked in the United States, and Laurent, already in his third term as Châteaubourg’s mayor, are unfailingly curious about what is being done elsewhere, and about this whole fast-moving world…

vineyards

5 ha (white) in SAINT JOSEPH AOC. 19 ha (red) in SAINT JOSEPH AOC, including 6 ha for Les Royes. Planted on slopes overlooking the village of Châteaubourg. 8 ha in CORNAS AOC, in three lieux-dits: Champelrose, Les Eygats, La Sabarotte. 1 ha CROZES-HERMITAGE AOC, 1 ha in SAINT-PÉRAY AOC. Chalky-clay soils for white varieties Marsanne and Roussanne. Granitic grus for the Syrah; limestone grus for Les Royes.

CELLAR

Grapes hand-picked, sorted and destemmed. Vinified in temperature-controlled stainless-steel vats. Long maceration. Aged in barrels and vats (Saint Joseph reds and whites and Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Péray); and in new and recent barrels (Cornas).

WINES

SAINT JOSEPH WHITELes Royes: Vine age: 30 years. 50% new barrels, 50% 1 year old • Domaine Courbis: barrels: 1-5 years old. • SAINT JOSEPH REDLes Royes: Wine for ageing, from chalky hillsides. 1/3 new barrels, 1/3 1 year, 1/3 2 years old • Domaine Courbis: vats (20%) and barrels (20% 1 year, 60% 3-4 years old). • CORNASChampelrose: Very old vines at foot of hill. Barrels: 10-15% new and 1-3 years old • Les Eygats: Vines at 250 m altitude, planted in 1991, East/South-East facing, with an exceptional micro-climate. 50% new barrels and 50% 1 year old • La Sabarotte: From old vines (planted 1947) on South-East facing slopes. Barrels: 70% new and 70% 1 year old.
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