2015 Domaine Lionnet, Cornas “Terre Brûlée” Northern Rhone, France.
One of my favorite wines and producers, Domaine Lionnet makes an incredible and authentic Cornas that never disappoints this Syrah geek, it’s always a nervy stemmy wine, but with gracious fruit and textures to balance everything out, I find these wines to have a raw sex appeal and with a dark earthy seduction, in terms of pure Syrah it rarely gets much better than this! Corinne Lionnet’s family has been here and wine growing since 1575, and countless generations, with her newly transplanted husband Ludovic Izerable, he come from the tiny university town of Grenoble up in the alps, making the wines, the two of them have run this winery now for about fifteen years after she took the estate over in 2003, this is a small label, they only produce two bottlings, mainly this Terre Brûlée Cornas, though they have added a Saint-Joseph Rouge called the Terre Neuve, but have not exported yet to my knowledge. Ludovic’s style is all about nature, with 100% whole cluster, 100% stems and all organic farming, he ferments native and uses long maceration (three weeks) in cement vats before malos in large cask, all well used, never new, with lengthy elevate/aging, there is never any additions or adjustments with just a tiny amount of sulfur. Each parcel for this Cornas is between 40 and 100 years old, they include four great Lieu-Dit sites, Chaillot, Combes, Brugeres and Mazards with each hand picked and fermented individually. Each of these Crus add to the whole and give this wine it’s special personality and chemistry, Domaine Lionnet’s attention to detail really shows in the bottle, these are electric and thrilling wines, which I was reminded of recently at Rosenthal’s Rhone and Bordeaux Tasting in San Francisco, where I got to meet Ludovic and Corinne and taste through a mini vertical of their glorious Cornas from 2012 to 2015, the just released version. Each vintage has it’s own charm and all are fantastic, but as I’ve sampled the 2012 through 2014 previously, I was focused on the 2015 which promises great rewards, though a bit taught at this point, it’s a star in progress. The 2012 is drinking great right now, and the 2013 is just getting itself together, while the 2014 is heavenly beautiful and more delicate than the rest, with this 2015 showing the full force of vintage and youth, it was the densest and exploding with fruit. A touch of air sets this 100% Syrah alive and releasing an inner perfume of violets, while a meaty wave flows underneath before reaching a climax of earth, spice and a core of black and blue fruit on the full bodied palate showing layers of boysenberry, cassis, blueberry, damson plum and kirsch along with vibrant peppercorns, dried basil, salted black licorice, bacon fat and truffle. This deep garnet hued Cornas lingers on and on recalling the violet and edgy stems for minutes in the aftertaste, this is a ridiculously great terroir driven wine with stellar potential in 3 to 5 years, if you love Jamet or Allemand you’ll want this wine, and at almost half their price this wine is a rockstar value.
($70 Est.) 95+ Points, grapelive

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