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Domaine Lionnet

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If I recall correctly, Robert Michel, our long-time producer of Cornas, announced to me in late 2004 that he was considering retirement, most probably after the 2006 vintage. There were no plans for succession; his son wasn’t interested in doing the tough, physical work that is required to cultivate the terraced vineyards of Cornas. A few years earlier (1998) we suffered the devastating loss of another of our growers in the northern Rhone, Michel Ferraton, who also retired. So, the specter of Michel’s absence from our portfolio was profoundly disconcerting, particularly because appellations like Cornas and Hermitage (Ferraton’s bailiwick) are very small in area and there are very few growers of exceptional quality. I turned to our grower of Cote Rotie in Ampuis, Bernard Levet, and asked him to help in the search. Shortly thereafter, Bernard called and referred me to the young Ludovic Izerable, someone whose wines he had tasted recently and whose work mirrored his own: only manual work in the vineyard, long cuvaison and elevage of the Syrah using everything in the grape (yes, those very precious stems are part of the package) and superbly-sited vineyards full of old vines within Cornas.

So begins our liaison with the Domaine Lionnet. Ludovic Izerable, a refugee from the Haute Savoie city of Grenoble, married Corinne Lionnet whose family has been growing grapes in the village of Cornas since 1575 (that’s correct … no typo … almost five centuries ago). Corinne took control of the domaine in 2003 when her father, Pierre, retired and she and Ludovic now run the show.

The domaine is quite small, only 2.2 hectares at the moment (additional vineyards will be added to the domaine shortly enabling the Domaine Lionnet to also produce a Saint Joseph). The vineyards are organically farmed and are certified as such by “Ecocert”. The vineyards are divided into four separate parcels across four distinct lieu-dits: Mazards, Combes, Chaillot and Brugeres. The vines are all between the ages of 40 and 100 years! Each parcel is harvested separately and vinification is done parcel by parcel as well. The harvest, of course, is manual with a severe selection being done in the vineyard. The cuvaison is long (three weeks) and the fermentation is completely natural: indigenous yeasts and no other materials whatsoever (no albumin, no enzymes, no gelatins … zero!). The grapes are left intact; they are never destemmed. The fermentation occurs in cement vats; then, the wines are racked into large oak barrels (tonneaux and demi-muids). No new oak is used.

Lionnet-Cornas-Terre-Brulee 2016 Cornas “Terre Brulée” Ludovic and Corinne farm very old plantings (40 to 100 years old) in several notable Cornas vineyards, which are all blended into their single flagship cuvée “Terre Brulée”: Mazards, with 50-year-old vines in granite-inflected soils of clay-limestone, is dark and powerful; Chaillot contributes classic granitic heft and dusty spice; clay-limestone Pied de la Vigne, which flanks Chaillot’s eastern edge, provides structural rigor; and Combe, the southernmost lieu-dit in the appellation, comprises sandy granite soils which give rounder, more voluptuous fruit and overtly floral aromas. Aged entirely in well-used 600-liter demi-muids, “Terre Brulée” is a Cornas of immense concentration, deep, meaty aromatics, intense effusive spiciness, and a bristling tension that beckons for a bit of patience but is thrilling in its vibrancy.
Lionnet Saint-Joseph “Terre Neuve”: Ludovic and Corinne own just shy of a hectare of Saint-Joseph, in the village of Châteaubourg—the southernmost village in the appellation, just north of Cornas. Half of their holding is a younger parcel, and the other half was planted in the 1950s, both on clay-limestone soils with a high occurrence of large limestone galets. As with their Cornas, they vinify the Saint-Joseph without de-stemming, and age it for 18 months in used 600-liter demi-muids before bottling without fining or filtration. This is Saint-Joseph with a Cornas sensibility: embracing of its spiciness, firmly structured, and rivetingly mineral-driven.
2016 Cornas “Pur Granit”: 2016 marks the debut vintage of Ludovic and Corinne’s “Pur Granit”—from a southeast-facing one-hectare parcel of selection massale Syrah, planted between 2008 and 2011, in the vineyard of Saint-Pierre at around 380 meters altitude. The combination of high altitude and pure granite soil (hence the name) yields a taut, racy Cornas of remarkable focus and mineral purity. This 2016, while marginally less strapping and profound than the “Terre Brulée” below, offers penetrating spicy aromatics and intense stoniness on the palate, with a sense of real concentration that is remarkable given the vines’ youth. Somewhat in the vein of Gilles’ “Nouvelle R,” this energetic and vivacious wine offers a slightly more easygoing counterpart to the flagship wine below.
Download Lionnet tech sheet
Domaine NameDOMAINE LIONNET
Family/Owners NameCorinne IZERABLE- LIONNET Ludovic IZERABLE
How many years has the family owned the domaine?Since 1575
How many hectares of vines are leased?0
How many hectares of vines are owned?Cornas : 2ha70, Saint Joseph : 0ha 70
Are your vineyards or wines Organic or Biodynamic Certified? If yes, in the EU? In the US? If no, are you in the process of becoming certified? When?Certified Organic by Ecocert. We didn’t ask our certification for US.Biodynamic production for the vintage 2017
Describe your vineyard management practices (e.g. low-intervention, organic, biodynamic, standard, etc.). PLEASE ALSO ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING IN YOUR REPLY:Vines work by hand (pruning, de-budding, training vines on wires, clipping, leaf-thinning
Do you do field work and harvest manually? By machine? By horse? Do you practice green harvest? Leaf thinning?Soil works by crawler tractor or by horse.
How do you fertilize?We use compost in Autumn. For vines leaves we use horsetail and nettle manure from April to June. Green harvest and leaf-thinning when it is necessary
Do you typically sell or buy any grapes? Please specify.No
Do you sell off any of your wine en vrac?No
WINE 1
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationCORNAS
Cepage/Uvaggiosyrah
%ABVFrom 12,5 to 14,5
# of bottles producedFrom 8000 to 11000
Grams of Residual Sugar0
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/lieu dit name(s) and locationsCombes 80 years, Mazards 45 years, Chaillot 45 years, pied la vigne 60 and 70 years, chataignier 4 to 7 years
Exposures and slope of vineyardsCombes plains Lower part of the hillside. Mazards Eas Lower part of the hillside. Chaillot North-east Slope 25% on terraces. pied la vigne South Slope 20% on terraces. Chataignie South-eas Slope 30% on terraces
Soil Types(s)Combes Granite
Mazards Granite
Chaillot thin granite
pied la vigne clay-limestone
chataignier Granite, poor soil
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)8000 vines/ha
Approximate harvest date(s)Mid-september
PLEASE SHARE ANY NOTES ABOUT HARVEST/GROWING SEASON FOR THIS WINE IN THIS VINTAGE2016 : May and June : cool and rainy
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?Late Jully : warmer. August : very hot and dry. Harvest about September 20th. 2015 : May and June : cool and rainy. July and early August : very hot and very dry. Rainstorm the August 15th so moderate temperature. Hot September. Harvest from 10 to 15 of September. Then chain of rains. 2014 : Early and hot spring. July cool and humid. August hot. Dry September, moderate temperature. Harvest late September
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
% whole cluster, % destemmed100% Whole cluster
Fermentation: vessel type and sizeConcrete tank for Mazards, Combes, Chaillots and Pieds la vigne. Stainless steel tank for Chataignier
Duration of cuvaison20 days and more
Duration of contact with leesWith cap
Select or indigenous yeast?Indigenous yeasts
Please share notes about winemaking process for this wine. Grape berries are split in fields into harvest bins (80kg) then emptied in tanks.
PLEASE ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING, IF APPLICABLE:Pumping-over for 2 to 3 days, then punching-down by feet for all the fermentation and maceration
pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationRunning of the free run wine then pressing with wooden press. Blending of free run wine with press wine. Malolactic fermentation in tank. Ageing in barrels
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)Ageing 50% Big barrels (from 4 wines and more) and 50% Barriques (from 3 wines and more)
Duration of elevage18 months
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US market15 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? No fining. No filtration
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Sulphiting: -After malolactic fermentation. During the ageing after analysis. Before bottling. Total SO2: 65mg. Free SO2: 20mg
PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS FINISHED WINE FROM THIS VINTAGE. HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?2014 The usual vintage for Cornas. Nice weather and slow ripening. Harvest late September, very ripe grapes without excess of heat. Very well-balanced wine, with complexity. Similar to 2007. Yield : 33 hl/ha
WINE 2
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationSaint Joseph
Cepage/Uvaggiosyrah
%ABVFrom 12,5% to 14,5% by vol
# of bottles produced600 in 2013, 1200 in 2014, 1800 in 2015
Grams of Residual Sugar0
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/lieu dit name(s) and locationsChateaubourg. Lieux dits Giraud/ les côtes
Exposures and slope of vineyards6 terraces with East exposure
Soil Types(s)Clay, silt limestone
Average vine age (per vineyard)Planting from 2008 to 2012
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)8000 vines/ha
Approximate harvest date(s)Mid-september
PLEASE SHARE ANY NOTES ABOUT HARVEST/GROWING SEASON FOR THIS WINE IN THIS VINTAGE2016 : May and June : cool and rainy
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?Late Jully : warmer. August : very hot and dry. Harvest about September 20th. 2015 : May and June : cool and rainy. July and early August : very hot and very dry. Rainstorm the August 15th so moderate temperature. Hot September. Harvest from 10 to 15 of September. Then chain of rains. 2014 : Early and hot spring. July cool and humid. August hot. Dry September, moderate temperature. Harvest late September
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
% whole cluster, % destemmed100% whole cluster
Fermentation: vessel type and size Concrete tank
Duration of cuvaison20 days and more
Duration of contact with leesWith cap
Select or indigenous yeast?Indigenous yeasts
PLEASE ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING, IF APPLICABLE:Grape berries are split in fields into harvest bins (80kg) then emptied in tanks.
pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationPumping-over for 2 to 3 days, then punching-down by feet for all the fermentation and maceration. Running of the free run wine then pressing with wooden press. Blending of free run wine with press wine. Malolactic fermentation in tank. Ageing in barrels
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)Ageing 50% Big barrels (from 4 wines and more) and 50% Barriques (from 3 wines and more)
Duration of elevage12 months
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US market6 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeNo fining, No filtration
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Sulphiting: -After malolactic fermentation. During the ageing (after analysis). Before bottling. Total SO2: 65mg. Free SO2: 20mg
PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS FINISHED WINE FROM THIS VINTAGE. HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?2nd vintage. Powerful Saint-Joseph, dark colour. Yields : 40Hl/ha
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2017 in the Northern Rhône New Releases from Levet, Gilles, and Lionnet

Domaine Levet

Domaine Levet in Côte-Rôtie has been a cornerstone of our portfolio since the 1983 vintage—the first they ever produced. Bernard and Nicole Levet began their domaine with three and a half hectares of enviable holdings around Ampuis, passed down through Nicole’s father Marius Chambeyron, a legendarily brazen vigneron who planted a coarsely hand-painted “CHAMBEYRON” sign high on his parcel of Côte-Brune to compete with those of his more famous and moneyed négociant neighbors. (It remains there to this day.) Today, their daughter Agnès is at the helm, though Bernard is still intimately involved, and they work their vertiginous, unforgiving terrain with bred-in-bone skill. Labor in this appellation is necessarily manual and unavoidably treacherous, with many terraces so narrow as to accommodate but a single row of vines, which plunge for scarce water through miserly topsoil and meters of pure schist. The wines today are produced in the same doggedly old-school manner as they have always been: minimal de-stemming, natural fermentations, long macerations, élévage in old foudres and tonneaux, and no filtration. Perhaps in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, such unpolished wines were out of step with the times, not offering a gentle enough entryway into Côte-Rôtie’s innate wildness. Today, however, when even many a well-meaning risk-embracing wine displays a certain eagerness to please, Levet Côte-Rôtie stands as a beacon of elemental authenticity.

Agnès Levet describes the 2017 vintage as “classic”—less intense in character than 2018, with more obvious minerality and less overall heft. She and her team began harvesting on September 6th, a full three weeks ahead of 2016, and she reported normal yields: in the vicinity of 40 hectoliters per hectare. The below 2017s were bottled in September of 2019, just prior to harvest.

2017 Côte-Rôtie

Comprised of vines from throughout the family’s holdings, Levet’s basic Côte-Rôtie is de-stemmed 50%, and spends two years in 600-liter barrels, less than 10% of which are new. The primary vineyard sources are Les Craies and Mollard in the Côte Blonde, with younger vines from Moulin and Fontgent in the Côte Brune. This 2017 is rich but balanced, with spice-inflected tannins and an impression of slowly unfolding layers—alternatingly elegant and authoritative.

2017 Côte-Rôtie “Les Journaries”

The Levets own a third of a hectare of forty-year-old vines in the fabled vineyard La Landonne, and this cuvée is built around that holding, augmented by small parcels of old vines in other crus. No de-stemming is done here, which allows for that intoxicating spice signature to reach even greater heights. Compared to the ferocious “La Chavaroche” below, “Les Journaries” shows greater refinement and elegance, though in no sense is it tame. The 2017 is explosively aromatic, with a high-toned but enveloping sense of Indian spices that is something of a Levet signature. It enters silkily and finishes with notable grip, its black, brooding fruits completely saturating the palate.

2017 Côte-Rôtie “La Chavaroche”

The crown jewel of the Levet family’s holdings is a 1.2-hectare parcel of old vines at the very summit of the great La Chavaroche vineyard, and the wine they summon from this dizzying slope is among the most iconic in our entire portfolio. Always arrestingly wild, “La Chavaroche” possesses an unmistakable musk: a warm-animal profile that feels somehow ancient and unknowable, a sort of profound riddle of terroir. In typical fashion, this 2017 is more punchily mineral than “Les Journaries,” although it is no more obviously structured; in fact, its tannins are remarkably well-distributed across the palate, and the wine shows surprising poise for such a heat-marked vintage.

Xavier Gérard

Xavier Gérard is an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with in the Northern Rhône. Having assumed control of his family’s impressive holdings in Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu with the 2013 vintage, Xavier has been steadily honing his craft over the ensuing years; today, his svelte, pure, classicist renderings of Côte-Rôtie’s unique terroir rival anything produced in the appellation. Furthermore, his nimble, acid-prizing touch with Viognier yields Condrieu of appealing restraint and foregrounded minerality. Xavier is steering his viticulture toward the fully organic—a particularly arduous feat on these brutally steep terraced slopes—aiming for certification over the next several years, and he has refined his touch in the cellar to allow for sensitive rather than systematic whole-cluster usage, natural fermentations, and minimal handling of the wines during their élévage. His emphasis on elegance and precision provides a wonderful counterpoint to the beloved Côte-Rôtie of the Levet family (who introduced us to Xavier ten years ago), while offering an equally profound glimpse into these slopes’ prized schist. The just-arrived 2017 Côte-Rôtie is perhaps Xavier’s highest achievement to date—an elegant, poised wine of tremendous drive and tight-knit concentration, and one with remarkable future promise as well.

2017 Xavier Gérard Côte-Rôtie

The Gérard family owns 3.2 hectares worth of old vines in Côte-Rôtie, spread among four notable vineyards: Mollard (comprising two-thirds of their holdings), Viallière (planted in 1922), La Brosse, and the fabled La Ladonne. Tailoring his de-stemming regimen to each harvest’s particular character yet never wanting the stems to dominate the wine, Xavier included around one-third whole clusters in the 2017 vintage, and the wine spent two years in well-used 600-liter demi-muids after a natural fermentation in concrete. This type of traditional, unfussy élévage is a tried-and-true method of harnessing maximum expression from the Syrah of Côte-Rôtie, yet it too often gets tinkered with; thankfully, Xavier sees no benefit to such attempts at sculpture, and his 2017 is as precise and pure as they come. Furthermore, his prices have remained remarkably reasonable in the context of the appellation, and while to call a wine in this echelon “inexpensive” is a stretch, it is undeniably a phenomenal value.

Guillaume Gilles

Guillaume Gilles, now in his late-30s (but looking ten years younger), is a force to be reckoned with, and his wines have deservedly garnered progressively more acclaim with each vintage since his debut in 2007. A local, Guillaume learned the ropes through stages with Jean-Louis Chave and Robert Michel between 2000 and 2004, and in fact he makes his wines in Michel’s old underground cellar in the heart of the village. Furthermore, his flagship Cornas is produced primarily from vineyards in Chaillot which were the source of Michel’s “Cuvée des Coteaux” back when he was active. A brilliant farmer, Guillaume eschews chemicals in the vineyards, working his three hectares completely by hand. He vinifies in concrete, uses only naturally occurring yeasts, and—critically—employs only whole clusters with no bunch-destemming, a vital contributing factor to his wines’ intoxicating aromatics and a resounding statement of his old-school values. He ages his wines in 600-liter demi-muids of considerable age, racking minimally and employing never more than 60 milligrams of total sulfur, and bottling without fining or filtration. Guillaume’s Cornas is unfailingly expressive, deep, powerful, and spicy, humming with terroir and easily rivaling the greatest creations of the appellation’s old masters.

Guillaume reported a hot, extremely dry 2017 growing season. Between a touch of frost in late April and intense hydric-stress pressure during the scorching summer, his yields were down 30% below average, with younger vines suffering more acutely. Despite these challenges—rapidly becoming the “new normal” in this era of climate change—the 2017s here are hugely impressive, carrying their ample flesh with agility and never sacrificing the energy which always marks Guillaume’s wines.

NOTE: With this release, we introduce two new cuvées, both from the 2018 vintage: a luscious Marsanne-Roussanne blend from his beloved Les Peyrouses vineyard, and a riveting old-vines Gamay planted high on the Ardeche plain to the west of Cornas. Both are available in painfully small quantities.

2018 “Les Peyrouses” Blanc (Vin de France)

From the vineyard of Les Peyrouses, a site just east of Cornas in which Gilles also owns 150-year-old Syrah (see below), this new cuvée comprises two-thirds Marsanne and one-third Roussanne, from a third of a hectare’s worth of vines planted between 2009 and 2013. Its soils of sand, clay, and large galets render a white wine of formidable amplitude but excellent focus, given shape by a touch of appealing bitterness on the finish. This 2018 underwent alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in well-used 500-liter barrels, and was bottled without fining of filtration.

2018 “Combeaux Massardières” Gamay de la Vallée du Doux (Vin de France)

A few years ago, Guillaume acquired a 0.3-hectare plot of 40-year-old Gamay planted in pure granite at 600 meters altitude in the Ardeche, and he produces a mere 800 bottles per vintage on average. As with his Cornas, he refrains from de-stemming his Gamay, but he allows fermentation to proceed semi-carbonically. Any kinship with its Beaujolais brethren, however, is purely varietal, as this 2018 is powerfully structured and inky-fruited, with wild aromas of sandalwood and potpourri, and mouthwatering concentration.

2017 Cornas “R”

The “R” in this wine’s name stands for Les Rieux, a vineyard situated up above the main amphitheater of Cornas at a lofty 400-450 meters altitude. Guillaume acquired acreage here in 2010, immediately planting vines on its soils of white granite which had never before borne wine. Whereas before the turn of the century there was really nothing planted above 300 meters in Cornas, today’s warmer climate allows for wines from plots like this one to reach full maturity at modest alcohol. Robert Michel, upon tasting “R” (formerly known as “Nouvelle R” but changed due to a copyright issue) for the first time, remarked that it reminded him of the Cornas he and his village-mates made in the ‘70s and ’80s; certainly, the bright, spice-saturated red character of the fruit here provides a fascinating contrast to Gilles’ more brooding flagship Cornas. Clocking in at just 13% alcohol, this 2017 “R” sizzles across the palate with uncanny focus, presenting a lithe take on Cornas that nonetheless displays classic black-olive and smoke character, as well as ample concentration.

2017 Cornas

Guillaume’s flagship Cornas comprises three separate parcels, all within the renowned vineyard of Chaillot, planted between the early-1950s and the mid-1970s: lower-lying Combe de Chaillot, with its sandier soils, offers more straightforward fruit; steep Les Terrasses, high up on the slope and poor of topsoil, contributes granitic punch and intense spiciness; and the also-terraced Grandes Mures, with its sun-soaking southward exposition, provides sumptuously dark-fruited contrabass notes and enhances the final blend’s overall structure. Guillaume vinifies and ages each parcel separately, blending them after an eighteen-month élévage in a blend of 400-liter and 600-liter oak casks of between five and fifteen years of age. This 2017 is a dense, brooding old-school powerhouse of a Cornas, with rugged structure and bottomless depth; it beckons to be cellared a bit but should unfurl slowly and majestically.

2017 “Les Peyrouses” Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge

Hailing from the flats just to the east of the Cornas appellation, the “Les Peyrouses” Rouge is a remarkable and unique wine: pure Syrah planted in the 1870s, during phylloxera’s initial outbreak, and constituting the very first grafted vines in the area. The soil in this vineyard is a mix of sand and clay, with loads of large limestone galets, and the wine Guillaume coaxes from these astonishingly old vines is so powerful in its fruit that he gives it twelve months élévage instead of eighteen. (Also, as a testament to its sheer power, he always presents it after his Cornas during visits to his cellar.) The 2017 vintage is remarkably spicy, with typically powerful tannins but a slightly more subdued sense of wildness than other vintages have shown, bringing it closer to his Cornas stylistically.

Domaine Lionnet

The Lionnet family has been farming in Cornas since 1575, and the four-hectare domaine today comprises an impressive array of very old vines in some of the area’s greatest sites. In 2003, Corinne Lionnet and her husband Ludovic Izerable—originally from Grenoble—assumed control of the family holdings, and we have witnessed with great delight a steady and remarkable improvement over the ensuing vintages. They obtained organic certification with the 2012 vintage, and, like Guillaume Gilles, they have recently acquired new holdings in Cornas’ higher-altitude reaches, pointing a way forward both for the domaine and the appellation itself. Ludovic and Corinne are great friends with Guillaume, and the constant dialogue among them about their craft benefits everyone involved. Although Lionnet’s practices are quite close to that of Gilles—natural fermentations, no de-stemming, neutral 600-liter barrels for ageing—the wines are more chiseled, leaner and slightly sterner in their youth, yet equally classic in personality and revelatory with proper bottle age.

Ludovic and Corinne suffered even more than Guillaume in the punishingly dry 2017 growing season, reporting a 40% reduction in crop size. Given the extremes of the vintage, however, their 2017s are startling in their elegance, with chiseled fruit, lifted aromatics, and hyper-focused minerality. There is arguably no domaine in Cornas performing above the level of Lionnet, and we highly encourage you to get on board before the wines become significantly more difficult to access.

2018 Saint-Joseph Rouge “Terre Neuve”

Ten years ago, Ludovic and Corinne acquired a 0.4-hectare parcel in Châteaubourg, the southernmost village in the Saint-Joseph appellation (and thus the nearest to Cornas). They planted Syrah in its soils of clay and large-stoned limestone, and in 2018 they wrested a mere three 500-liter barrels from these relatively young vines. Bottled after one year of élévage, the 2018 “Terre Neuve” offers explosive aromas of licorice, fresh-ground pepper, and violet-tinged black fruits, and its scrumptious and juicy palate provides a wonderful in-house contrast to the domaine’s more formidably structured Cornas cuvées. Of note, most Saint-Joseph is from granitic soils; this site’s limestone lends the wine a less thunderous, more restrained mineral character that allows the remarkably pure fruit to shine clearly.

2017 Cornas “Pur Granit”

2017 is only the second vintage of Ludovic and Corinne’s “Pur Granit”—from a southeast-facing one-hectare parcel of massale-selection Syrah, planted between 2008 and 2011, in the vineyard of Saint-Pierre at around 380 meters altitude. The combination of high altitude and pure-granite soil (hence the name) yields a taut, racy Cornas of remarkable mineral articulation; somewhat in the vein of Gilles’ “R,” it offers a slightly more easygoing counterpart to the “Terre Brûlée” below. This 2017 is stunning in its purity and depth, with intoxicating aromas of smoky leather and incense, and a blatantly stony palate of greater concentration and intensity than its 2016 counterpart.

2017 Cornas “Terre Brûlée”

Ludovic and Corinne farm very old vines (between 40 to 100 years of age) in several notable Cornas vineyards, which are all blended into their flagship cuvée “Terre Brulée”: Mazards, with 50-year-old vines in granite-inflected soils of clay-limestone, is dark and powerful; Chaillot contributes classic granitic heft and dusty spice; clay-limestone Pied de la Vigne, which flanks Chaillot’s eastern edge, provides structural rigor; and Combe, the southernmost lieu-dit in the appellation, comprises sandy granite soils which give rounder fruit and more overtly floral aromas. Aged entirely in used 600-liter demi-muids, the 2017 “Terre Brulée” is rivetingly aromatic, with notable tension between its dense drought-vintage fruit and its spice-route fireworks. A sense of forbidding concentration beckons patience, but this is potentially a legend in the making.

 

Domaine Lionnet Vinous Review

2017 Domaine Lionnet Cornas Terre Brulée Inky ruby. Powerful, deeply perfumed aromas of black and blue fruit preserves, licorice and olive, along with a sexy floral overtone. Coats the palate with juicy blackberry, boysenberry, violet pastille and spicecake flavors, while a smoky mineral flourish adds vibrant lift. Chewy tannins shape an impressively long, mineral-accented finish […]

Cornas Lionnet 2016

Our dedication to wines of terroir is best and most fundamentally expressed in a wine such as the Cornas “Terre Brulée” 2016 produced at the Domaine Lionnet. For all the excitement that swirls around the wines of the northern Rhone and various other interpretations of Syrah globally,

The Future Legends of Cornas

2016s from Guillaume Gilles and Domaine Lionnet.

The whole of Cornas comprises 145 hectares of vines—smaller than many individual mid-sized estates in a region like Bordeaux or Tuscany—and its punishingly steep slopes ensure, in Darwinian fashion, that only the most committed growers will forge wine here. We at Rosenthal Wine Merchant have always had a penchant for the gutsy, wild Syrah that issues forth from this southernmost Northern Rhône hamlet, and our long relationship with the legendary Robert Michel (who retired after the 2006 vintage) provided us a succession of ruggedly traditional wines which still dazzle to this day.

Summary of Grower Visits – Part III

The afternoon of our second day on the road was joyous as the wines of Guillaume Gilles and Domaine Lionnet are simply magical.

GILLES: Guillaume started harvest early in 2018, the 4th of September. He reports a bountiful harvest of excellent quality. The ‘17s have brilliant potential.

Domaine du Gour de Chaulé & Domaine Lionnet – Josh Raynolds

2015 Domaine du Gour de Chaulé Gigondas Cuvée Tradition Brilliant ruby. A heady bouquet evokes ripe red and blue fruits, Indian spices and smoky minerals, along with a hint of candied lavender in the background. Deeply concentrated yet energetic black raspberry, boysenberry and spicecake flavors unfold slowly, picking up a licorice quality that expands on […]

New Releases from the Northern Rhône.

Etienne Becheras * Domaine Lionnet * Bernard Levet Guillaume Gilles * Xavier Gerard By: Neal Rosenthal & Neil Rosen We will soon receive our most significant shipments of the year from our producers in the Northern Rhône. Recently, we have made substantial additions to our Northern Rhône portfolio; thus, this annual offer has grown to […]

Can Northern Rhône Syrah Survive the Spotlight?

Both Côte-Rôtie and Cornas have entered the spotlight after decades in the shadows. Jon Bonné considers how the rush of fame has affected these regions, and what it signals for the future of northern Rhône syrah. JANUARY 19, 2017  story: JON BONNÉ As I walk along the muted streets of Ampuis, one July afternoon, it’s […]

Lionnet Cornas 2012

Drinking this wine tonight (see photos). Classic Cornas. May be the best Cornas in stock right now. Powerful, dramatic, severe, every element of the appellation is on display … The granite soils, the non-destemmed grapes, the raw ferocity of Syrah in the northern Rhone.  So good right now but with a brilliant future of 10 […]

Northern Rhone Part II

Neal’s update on our Northern Rhone producers continues with Domaine Lionnett and Etienne Becheras: September 20, 2013 “The Domaine Lionnet is really coming into its own. Ludovic is finding his stride. My notes are replete with praise. There is no doubt that 2012 will be a top vintage here and, interestingly and somewhat in contrast […]