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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.
ViticulturePracticing 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 12.5% 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 cellar in the centre of Cornas at Number 1 Grand Rue.

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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, and although he isn’t yet certified organic, no chemicals are used throughout, the soils are ploughed, and the vines pruned to limit yields at 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 natural course in the cave with native yeasts fermentation, no fining or filtration and low sulphur - “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.

Surprisingly approachable in their youth, 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 Le Chaillot end of October

Guillaume Gilles Wines

Guillaume Gilles

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

Although les Rieux is planted at 350m altitude, in a sandy granitic soil to the south west of the appellation, the south-facing vineyards soak up the sun throughout the whole day. Guillaume gave this wine a shorter cuvaison, although otherwise vinified and aged it in the same way as the Chaillot cuvée. It is showing really well already, is very floral (violets), supple and elegant but with a distinct mineral stamp. Excellent vfm. For drinking now to 2024.

Guillaume Gilles

CORNAS 2014
100% Syrah (14% alc.)

This is Guillaume’s top cuvée of Cornas from 33yo vines planted on the steep exceptional hillside of Chaillot. Following Robert Michel’s path, the grapes were not destalked, and the wine has been aged in two thirds 400ltr barrels and bottled without fining or filtration. A natural, very unforced elegance here with attractive rich, irony, blackberry fruit, touch of spice and hint of menthol, good substance and extremely long on the finish. Guillaume commented to us in late 2015 (and again since) that he can’t think that he will ever make a better wine than this 2014. Everything went perfectly for this cuvée throughout the viticultural year, he even finished harvesting and three hours later it started to rain (many 2014s were diluted by rain). For drinking now to 2030.

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