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Cuvée Tardive, which literally translates to ‘late,’ is so-named as an admonition to avoid consuming the bottle in the flush of youth. Initial reticence, without the jubilant fruit of the previous vintage, along with tightly wound mineral and tannin clearly indicates the need for cellaring. Three days of oxygen exposure brought out an inkling of high-toned berry fruit and florality, a fleeting preview of the complex aromatics that will unfold over time. JR/JW
(Mostly from Petite Sérine planted in the 1950s on Chavaroche, a superb parcel of granite and schist soils with clay and sand, (just west of Côte Brune) a very warm terraced plot sheltered from the north wind. Whole-bunch fermentation, aged one year in old barrels, one year in 15% new, 85% old casks.) The 2012 Chavaroche shows the complex aromas of fine Côte-Rôtie with red-currant, black cherry, blackberry, plum and citrus, with earth and "hung game". Earthy red and black fruits on the palate with plum and violet, chalky and dense but not heavy - balanced, showing the brightness of the vintage. This should age beautifully, but it will be lovely early drinking as well due to the bright, silky fruit. Bravo!
Domaine Lionnet was certified organic in 2009, after many years of conversion - plowing by horse or "chenillette" (tiny caterpillar tractor), all vineyard work by hand and only organic treatments. The 2009 Cornas shows the ripeness of the vintage, with a bit more alcohol than the 2012, but is well balanced and backed with firm acidity and tannin. The nose is opening with dense blackberry fruit, smoke, musk and spice, the palate is ripe and deep, black fruits and minerals. This needs another five years to drink at its best and should age beautifully. A worthy investment!
(Note from 2015) A leading producer of traditional Cornas, Domaine Lionnet has modernized only slightly over the last 20 years with the wines losing their former "rustic" character, while retaining complexity and terroir expression, very much in the style of the Gonons in Saint-Joseph. Organic since 2007, whole-bunch fermentations with wild yeasts, aging in both 600 liter and 228 liter two to eight year-old oak casks. From 100 year-old vines on Mazards (a great parcel below Reynards having both granite and limestone/clay soils), 70 year-old vines on Combe, Chaillot and Pied la Vigne. The 2010 shows lovely deep aromas of blackberry and black cherry, with brown spice, cocoa and musk lifted by high-toned floral and menthol notes. The palate is deep and structured showing blackberry liqueur, earth and licorice with very firm acidity. Very long and tight. This is classic old-school Cornas from a great vintage, and although it's exciting now, it will age beautifully, probably best 2020 - 2030. David Lillie
10 hectares of vines. The Chateauneuf is Grenache 60%, Syrah 15%, Mourvedre 10%, and Counoise 5%, from vines 70-100 years old. Aged in large old barrels and barriques for 12-18 months; bottled unfiltered.