2020 Thierry Allemand, Cornas “R” Northern Rhone, France.
Almost as hard to try as some famous and rare Grand Cru Burgundy, I was grateful of the chance to taste the latest wines from Thierry Allemand, maker of some of the most sought after Syrah wines on earth, and this inky purple 2020 cuvée “R”, formerly known as the Reynard, was absolutely stunning and even in its youth let you know that it is very serious stuff with a heady mix of black fruits, sweet florals, earth, mineral tones and crunchy herbs. The medium bodied palate is as pure as it gets with a taut core of tannins, fresh acidity and exceptional length, it delivers everything I remembered from the east time I had earlier vintages, with crushed violets, subtle meaty notes, berry fruits and graphite on the nose leading to a mouth of boysenberry, blueberry, damson plum and creme de cassis, accented by raw peppercorns, anise, cedar and tapenade/umami. The finish goes on and on here, people that love Syrah, especially old school Domaine Jamet style Côte-Rotie will love this wine. This Allemand Cornas “R” comes from, as importer Kermit Lynch notes, Thierry’s steep parcels in the Reynard lieu-dit, that lie predominately upon sturdy, granite subsoil with some clay with good ripening exposure with all organic vines that range from 34 to 90 years old, which all adds up to fabulous depth and intensity, as seen in this wine. The grapes coming from these terraced plots that are hand tended and come into the cellar and fermented with whole clusters in a combination of stainless steel and old open top wooden vats with foot trodding and manual punch-downs. After primary fermentation the Syrah sees 24 months in a combination of used barriques and large foudres before bottling, with ultra low doses of sulfur and unfined and unfiltered, all done with the idea of allowing transparency, rustic charm and terroir to shine through.
Cult hero Thierry Allemand, founded his label in 1982, who’s Syrahs are now unicorn wines and almost impossible to get, began his unlikely rise to international stardom started humbly earned his living as an electrician and working at Domaine Robert Michel, one of the region’s legends, where he was mentored through hard work learning old school terrace farming, pruning, grafting techniques, and non-interventionist winemaking. Over a fifteen year period, according to Kermit Lynch, he was able to piece together some micro parcels, but prime locations of vines, within Cornas, and now has enough estate owned vineyards to produce about 650 cases annually. That, again, means there is not much wine available to the world and each bottle of Allemand is a special prize, so I was thrilled to get a chance to taste through the Allemand lineup recently poured by Thierry’s son Théo at the celebration of importer Kermit Lynch’s 50 years in the business of finding some of the greatest wines in the world and bringing them to the States. This was a treat, as I haven’t had the chance to taste a current vintage lineup since the 2011 and 2012 were released, though I’ve been lucky enough to have had various bottles randomly due to the kindness of friends. The personality of the 2020 “C” Chaillot and ‘R” Reynard bottlings are remarkably different, with the cuvée “C” being extremely shy, bright, tight and bitter edged at this stage, while this cuvée “R” is more generous and shows off more of its potential and was absolutely thrilling in the glass, hinting at its greatest already. This wine, one of my favorites of Kermit Lynch’s 50th Anniversary portfolio tasting, lived up to the hype and did not disappoint, sadly I am not expecting to have much chance of following its evolution, which I’m sure will be fascinating over the next couple of decades with its striking combination of beauty and savory elements, this is profound stuff, on par with similarly priced Chave Hermitage!
($399/449 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive