Cornas

Cornas has long been considered the poor relation to Hermitage, its more illustrious neighbour on the opposite bank of the Rhône, but the wines are hewn from the same granitic land. It would be fair to say that a few names have been the dominant force for many years, but as ever a new generation are on the march, rejuvenating the land and bringing a fresh approach whilst respecting tradition.

Cornas is definitely on the rise again, not quite the noisy neighbour of Hermitage, but justifying the renewed global interest. As Matt Walls points out in Wines of the Rhône ‘there is still plenty of land left to plant, so the story isn’t finished’.


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Domaine Graeme & Julie Bott

A love story and a bit of good fortune; a love of the Syrah grape that led Graeme to the Rhone and the love of his life Julie, who came together whilst working at the prestigious cellars of Stephane Ogier. Theirs is a back story of adventure and spirit and one of serendipity too.

Our relationship with the pair stretches back some 8 years or so, when we often stopped and shared a beer after the Marché aux vins in Ampuis every January, it was no surprise when they told us they were setting out on their own journey.

The surprise came when they discovered that the house they had purchased in Verin, complete with 0.35 hectare of garden, was within the appellation of Condrieu, between the in-demand Coteau de Chéry and the illustrious Chateau Grillet. Graeme & Julie like to pick early to capture the freshness, the wines tend be expressive, bright and pure.


Watch the videos: Domaine G&J Bott or Condrieu Lieu-Dit L'ALEAU.

Julie Bott on the 2022 vintage:

'After a historically dry summer and very hot weather, we thought we were heading for a challenging vintage. The vines were stressed from the lack of water and so were we!

Fortunately, the long-awaited rains arrived after the 15th of August, enabling the ripening to be revived and the berries to plump up a little. We were all relieved, both vines and winegrowers! The maturity which paused with the stress of the heat and lack of water allowed the alcohols levels to not rocket away. Thus the 2022 whites are balanced, the nose is marked by a beautiful aromatic expression, the mouth surprisingly offers freshness with a mineral finish.’

2022 CORNAS Domaine Graeme & Julie Bott
75cl bottles, case of 6

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Domaine Lionnet

We came across the wines of Domaine Lionnet purely by chance one day at the Marché-Aux-Vins in Ampuis. On a walk across the bridge from Tain l’Hermitage to Tournon to blow away the cobwebs, we took a detour into a dusty wineshop full of Rhône treasures. Here the caviste, when asked for the up-and-coming domaines of the region, guided us a bottle of Cornas Terre Brulée and a love affair began.

More than an infatuation, the wines seem to get better with every vintage. Already the 2021 is extraordinarily good and is drinking now - we cannot wait to see how the 2022s develop, they tasted remarkable from barrel in October.

This is a truly lovely estate that is run immaculately by Corinne & Ludovic. Ludovic Izerable came to this domaine by marriage to Corinne, the daughter of Pierre and granddaughter of Michel Lionnet. She took the reins in 2003. The Izerables immediately converted the domaine to organic farming and have been certified since 2009.

The word 'Cornas' derives from the Celtic word for 'burnt earth' hence the name of the Domaine's flagship cuvée 'Terre Brûlée'. The domaine is a mere 4 hectares, in Cornas and Saint Joseph. In the latter, their vines are in Châteaubourg, the southernmost village of the appellation, at 300m altitude. In Cornas, they have 7 parcels of vines, mostly between 40 and over 100 years old, with one parcel of young vines planted in 2008. No pesticides, herbicides or commercial fertilisers are used, and the soil is worked by horse and a small caterpillar-tracked machine.

The grapes are handpicked and vinified as whole bunches - nothing is added at any stage and the vinification takes place with naturally occurring yeasts. As a result, the harvest has to be ultra-clean and that contributes to the aromatic purity of the wines. After the alcoholic fermentation with pigeage the free run wine is drawn off and the marc is pressed gently in a vertical press from the 19th century. The malolactic fermentation is allowed to take place in resin or stainless steel vats, and only once completed do the wines get racked and transferred to barrel for two winters - a total of 18 months - half in 225l and half in demi-muids of 600l. No new wood is used. The wines are then bottled without fining or filtration.

Ludovic Izerable on the 2022 vintage:

'2022 was one of the driest and hottest vintages, saved at the last moment by some good rain around 15th August. Thanks to old vines and probably also to twenty years of organic farming, the vines reacted well: we haven’t seen huge alcohol levels and we’ve kept a balanced, cooler style.'

2022 CORNAS Terre Brulée Domaine Lionnet

2022 CORNAS Terre Brulée Domaine Lionnet

2022 Terre Brûlée Cornas Much more on the animal side, more meaty, but with dark cherry and blackcurrant too, lively and bright, very good again, very dark & will become very complete, a real2022 Terre Brûlée Cornas Much more on the animal side, more meaty, but with dark cherry and blackcurrant too, lively and bright, very good again, very dark & will become very complete, a real terroir wine, sense of place. L&S (Oct 2023)

75cl bottles, case of 6

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2022 CORNAS Pur Granit Domaine Lionnet

2022 CORNAS Pur Granit Domaine Lionnet

2022 Pur Granit Cornas Deep purple, the nose explodes into pure bright dark fruit, blueberry and raspberry, cola and damson, Smokey and sweet but also a sour cherry cola note too, green sappy tannin2022 Pur Granit Cornas Deep purple, the nose explodes into pure bright dark fruit, blueberry and raspberry, cola and damson, Smokey and sweet but also a sour cherry cola note too, green sappy tannin but not astringent, very very good indeed 13.5%L&S (Oct 2023)

75cl bottles, case of 6

In Bond