More news from Cornas

Here’s a short follow up on my two previous posts (here’s the first one, and here is the second one) regarding the Cornas municipality’s plan to develop the Les Mazards vineyards by ripping up 100-year-old vines and setting up buildings instead.

According to recent communications received from the Association Cornas les coteaux d’abord (Cornas vineyards first, literally translated), the fight is getting organized and being played out at the local, regional and political level. The Association is contesting the development plans submitted by the municipality, and has succeeded in getting a “commissaire enquêteur” (investigating commissionner – again, my poor translation) to come to Cornas for three days to hear what people have to say about the project. A local member of the National Assembly has sided with the association, and the region’s Conseiller Général is also coming to town this week to hear more about the situation.

It seems like a tough fight, though. The municipality seems to want to finalize approval for the project before the end of the year – which is also, interestingly enough, before the next municipal elections in March 2008. Lots of work to do in order to stop this: in total, 3.5 hectares of prime vineyard could be affected, it seems, and built up with 4-story buildings in an area where there are only individual houses, so far.

If you feel like joining in to this struggle to save these vineyards (including some by legendary producer Auguste Clape), you’ll find the instructions for adding your voice to the petition launched by the association or for writing the mayor of Cornas in my previous posts.

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Published in: on September 3, 2007 at 10:56 pm  Comments (1)  

Cornas threatened by… Cornas?!?

I just read something unbelievable on a Vinography post by Alder Yarrow. Apparently, the mayor of Cornas has decided that he wants a 4 or 5-story building erected on a site called Les Mazards, in the middle of the top vineyard sites in this remarkable appellation. This decision would entail the construction of an access road through some of the best vineyards of Auguste Clape, one of Cornas’ most renowned producers. John Livingstone-Learmonth, probably the world’s greatest expert on the Rhône region, also rang the alarm about this situation.

Both suggest that a note can be dropped to the mayor of Cornas, Gilbert Garnier, to tell him a thing or two about this outrageous proposition. I’m certainly planning to put pen to paper and to send my thoughts to:

Monsieur Gilbert Garnier
Le Maire de Cornas
Mairie de Cornas
07130 Cornas
France

The situation is a useful reminder that the wine world’s greatest sites cannot be taken for granted, and that they are not immune from threats. A similar kind of fight has taken place in Margaux, in the Bordeaux region, against plans for a new highway that would have gone through this legendary appellation. Many excellent vineyards in lesser-known appellations will probably be ripped up as France and Europe try to resolve their overproduction (or is that underselling?) problem.

Local producers and wine-lovers have to rise up to protect and enhance such remarkable heritage which cannot be moved elsewhere. And the Syndicat des producteurs in Cornas is doing just that. So it’s certainly worth lending them a hand.