Lionnet's Traditional Cornas — Stunning Syrah, Rich & Elegant
Most people would agree that the best Syrahs come from Northern Rhône. But which appellation? That’s where you’d find some strong differences of opinion. Many would say Hermitage, citing J-L Chave’s decades of excellence as definitive proof. Others would point to Guigal’s pricey “La La” cuvées from Côte-Rôtie, which seem to garner 100-point scores every other year.
But what about Cornas, Northern Rhônes most southerly appellation? With producers like Auguste Clape and Thierry Allemand in mind (who make differently styled but equally mind-blowing wines), there’s a solid case to be made.
A great Cornas is often a little more meaty, wild, and unctuous then say, a great wine from the more northerly Côte-Rôtie, but is also capable of refinement and subtler terroir expressions.
What’s most exciting about Cornas, though, is how affordable it is once you get past those top 2-3 names. Truly, you can get world-class wine here Syrah here for less then $80. That’s not cheap, but to get comparable quality in Brunello, Napa, or Burgundy, you have to pay much more.
Case-in-point: the 2020 ‘Terre Brûlée’ from Cornas traditionalist Lionnet. The wines of this domaine are perhaps the best example of appellation’s relative value. The wines are maybe not quite Clape/Allemand level, but they’re close, and like those wines, made in a highly traditional manner.
Terre Brûlée is sourced from multiple organically-farmed plots, including Chaillot. You get the rich, gutsy character of Cornas, but also elegance and freshness. In other words, it’s world-class Syrah (with an excellent review; see below) that you can drink today (with food), or hold for more than a decade.
Lionnet, Cornas Terre Brûlée, 2020 $69.99
“Inky ruby. Intensely perfumed, mineral-accented cherry and black raspberry aromas, along with exotic spice, floral and pipe tobacco flourishes. Alluringly sweet and penetrating on the palate, offering sappy cherry-cola, dark berry, fruitcake, allspice and olive flavors that deepen steadily through the back half. Shows firm tension and excellent clarity on the youthfully tannic finish, which echoes the floral note and hangs on with superb tenacity.” (95 pts) —Josh Raynolds, vinous.com
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