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Guillaume Gilles in Le Chaillot

Guillaume Gilles

VigneronGuillaume Gilles
LocationCornas (Ardèche)
Size of Domaine5 ha
TerroirContinental climate, Mistral (northern wind) influence. Granite with limestone and clay, decomposed granite, on very steep terraced slopes. 200-350m altitude.
ViticultureCertified organic
View Guillaume Gilles wines ↓

Although Guillaume Gilles was born in Lyon, from the age of eight he dreamed of following in the footsteps of his grandfather Marcel Juge, a highly-respected vigneron in Cornas.

The opportunity presented itself in 2000 when Robert Michel, a leading grower in the same appellation, offered him a job as an apprentice. He worked with Robert until his retirement in 2006, followed by a stint for Jean-Louis Chave in Hermitage before striking out on his own in 2007 and finally renting 2ha from Robert in the fine lieu-dit of Chaillot. Here the vines average 40yo with a myriad of massale clippings and clones (planted by Robert) in the plots of Les Terrasses and Les Grands Murs on extremely steep south to south-east facing slopes.

My job is to try not to screw it up in the cellar by interfering as little as possible

Guillaume now farms a total of 5ha, mostly in Cornas, including one that he planted in the lieu-dit Les Rieux at 400-450m altitude, from which he makes a more delicate and perfumed version of Cornas that rarely goes above 13% alc. He’s also planning to build his winery and house there to be immersed in nature, as it’s such a magical place with breath-taking views over the valley and its vineyards. For now he still vinifies and barrel ages his wines underneath Robert Michel’s house, in an old atmospheric cellar in the centre of Cornas at Number 1 Grand Rue.

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View from Les Rieux
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Guillaume’s approach in the vineyard is impeccable, in his 30s he works like a dynamo to help his vines produce the best fruit possible. Everything is done by hand, he became certified organic from 2020, the soils are ploughed (although only lightly and infrequently during the recent run of warm vintages) by a mix of horse, tractor, trident plough and winch. The vines are pruned to limit yields to about 35hh.

Having learned the trade from such purists as Robert Michel and JL Chave, it’s no surprise that Guillaume sticks to the traditional way and ferments his reds with whole bunches, he also follows a hands-off approach in the cave with native yeasts fermentation, and no fining or filtration. "My job is to try not to screw it up in the cellar by interfering as little as possible", this is the way he puts it. SO2 is added after completion of the malos and rectified at bottling (around 50mg/l total). Ageing occurs in older demi-muids and 400ltr barrels for 18 months in perfect conditions.

Surprisingly approachable in their youth, but with the capacity to age extremely well, his wines have a true Cornas character, classy bottlings with outstanding quality. A future star in the making.

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La dégustation
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03_Vine_Trail_Guillaume_Gilles_4_3 Lieu-dit Chaillot end of October

Guillaume Gilles Wines

Guillaume Gilles

CORNAS 2017
Les Rieux
100% Syrah (13% alc.)

Guillaume purchased Les Rieux in 2010, the land never held vines before and was mainly planted with massales from Les Bessards (Hermitage). Sandy granitic soil to the south west of the appellation at 400-450m, the south-facing vines soak up the sun throughout the whole day. Guillaume gave this wine a shorter cuvaison otherwise vinified and aged in the same way as the Chaillot cuvée. Showing really well already despite the young vines, it is very floral (violets), supple and elegant but with a distinct mineral stamp. Excellent value. For drinking now to 2024.

Guillaume Gilles

CORNAS 2015
100% Syrah (13.5% alc.)

Guillaume’s vines are 35 years old – a myriad of massal clippings and different clones planted by Robert Michel – from the exceptional lieu-dit of Chaillot (specifically the plots of les Terrasses and les Grands Murs on very, very steep south and south east facing slopes). The cuvée Les Combes des Chaillots will not be made in 2015 as the wine was so good that it has been incorporated into the senior cuvée. The grapes were not destalked and the wine has been aged in two thirds 400 litres barrels and bottled without fining or filtration. A seductive nose, lovely weight of rich red/black fruit and liquorice on the palate, imprint of terroir, notably irony and very fine tannins – it’s all very harmonious. For drinking now to 2030.

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