A Spotlight on Domaine Lionnet

Posted on Posted in Domaine Lionnet, Rosenthal Wine Merchant News, RWM Contributor

The Lionnet family has been farming in Cornas since 1575, and the five-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 their RWM stablemate 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. Lionnet’s adamantly traditional practices—natural fermentations, no de-stemming, neutral 600-liter barrels for ageing—result in chiseled, penetrating wines which become downright revelatory with proper bottle age. Ludovic and Corinne described 2018 as relatively classic—gentler than 2019 overall, and not a massively structured blockbuster of a vintage like 2015 or 2016. They finished harvest on the 10th of September, the same date of completion as in 2016, and the bottled 2018s show house-typical tenacity married to a certain breeziness that is quite bewitching. Furthermore, we are thrilled to premier a new cuvée of Saint-Joseph Blanc with this round of releases, from the powerful 2019 vintage.

2019 Saint-Joseph Blanc “Pierre Blanche”
Pure Roussanne aged partly in terracotta jar and partly in a single two-year-old barrel, this new micro-cuvée offers intense minerality beneath its overlay of exotic almond-inflected apricot fruit, with a lip-smackingly pulpy texture and a vivid overall sense of purity.

2018 Cornas “Pur Granit”
2018 is only the third vintage of Ludovic and Corinne’s “Pur Granit”—produced 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’ “Les Rieux,” it offers a more easygoing counterpart to the “Terre Brûlée” below, built more around highwire tension than roaring power.

2018 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 Brûlée”: 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 2018 “Terre Brulée” is elemental and stern at this youthful stage, as is the house style, yet it should unfurl over the next few years to reveal a wine of great lift and energy.

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