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As in the Southern Rhône at Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the overall picture of 2020 in the Northern Rhône is a warm vintage that was tempered by a bit of rain, less heat spikes than in 2019 and cool night temps, leading to more even maturation with a bit less alcohol and more elegance and finesse in the wines. For more details we take you to John Livingstone-Learmonth's excellent website, drinkrhone:
"Cornas 2020: 2020 is a very good, very attractive vintage for Cornas. The gradual ripening, with each sector in its place in the batting order was certainly a factor in the year achieving balance and harmony, as was the absence of extreme heat moments. Fresh rather than stifling nights also chipped in, meaning the vines could switch off for key moments. It was therefore helpful that the degree edged down from the robust levels of 2019. Ludovic Izerable of the authentic organic Domaine Lionnet says: “the degree is more reasonable in 2020; there was no blockage of ripening because there were no real heat spikes in the summer, so the wines this year are more elegant, fresh, on the aromatic side over the power. For Guillaume Gilles, '2020 is tender, mild, has gourmandise; style-wise, I regard 2020 as a classic year.' Says Thierry Allemand '2019 is for medal winning, 2020 is for drinking.' ”
"Côte-Rotie 2020: 2020 is a vintage that has given wines of the utmost pleasure at Côte-Rôtie. Much of their appeal stems from their texture, a smooth silk that caresses the palate. Agnès Levet summarised: '2020 has more silky tannin than 2019, balance, and is 0.5° less than 2019 – 14° versus 14.5°. It’s well ripe, has black fruit, but isn’t as enclosed as 2019, is more accessible.' 2020 is definitely a vintage to buy and enjoy, so do not hold back. ( I would also point readers in the direction of the classic cuvées in 2020. Their prices are markedly lower than the stratosphere that has been established on the top single site wines, and examples such as the Bonnefond Colline de Couzou meet the criteria of a good sense of place, much pleasure, style and a fair price.)
Domaine Levet creates authentic wines of terroir with staunchly traditional methods in the cellar. Their "Chavaroche" is always a leading example of Côte-Rôtie, 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 beautiful "Journaries" is 60% from 70 to 80 year-old vines on the west part of La Landonne, 40% younger vines from Côte Brune, Côte Blondeand Côte Rozier,
Another traditionalist, the young Guillaume Gilles worked with Robert Michel and took over his cellar and the vines on "Chaillot." The Gilles Cornas (Chaillot) is mostly from 40+ year-old vines on Les Grands Murs and Les Terrasses, both on Chaillot, plus older vines on Mazards and Saveaux. Viticulture is with organic methods, there is whole-cluster fermentation, and aging is in old 400 liter and 600 liter casks. As with Levet, there is very little wine available...
Fortunately, the beautiful old-school Cornas of Corinne Lionnet and her husband Ludovic Izérable are a bit under the radar and there is more of their Cornas "Terre Brulée" and "Pur Granit" available! The estate has been organic since 2007, certified since 2012. "Terre Brulée" is from 50 to 70 year old vines on Mazards and Combe with 50 year-old vines on Chaillot and Pied de la Vigne, and young wines on Chataignier. There is a 2 - 3 week whole-bunch fermentation with cap punching by foot. Aging is in 2 - 8 year-old 500 liter and 228 liter barrels. "Pur Granit" is a new wine from the Lionnets, from young massale-selection vines on Saint-Pierre, above Chaillot. This is a silky, elegant, medium-weight Cornas, really showing the terroir, that will drink well over the next 20 years. These wines are the real deal and are highly recommended!
Patrick and Christophe Bonnefond are making excellent Côte-Rôtie from their 8 hectares, mostly on shiste soils in the north on Les Rochains and Roziers and on granite in the south at Tupin and Semons. Their 2020 "Colline de Couzou" is a blend from all of their vineyards which offers superb value and delicious drinking, both as a young wine and over the next 20 years.
Please allow until May 10th for pick-up/shipping, net priced.
The beautiful 2020 Levet "Journaries" is 60% from 70 to 80 year-old vines on the west part of La Landonne, 40% younger vines from Côte Brune, Côte Blonde, Côte Rozier. "...full, attractive robe; the nose is well poised, carries a discreet perfume, an air of black cherry, with oak touches, ground coffee beans. The palate gives ripe blue fruit, immediately engages, while the smooth tannins help its flow and length. This is serene flow wine, nothing hurried. It accumulates depth into the finish, with a compact depth on the aftertaste, the tannins within there. It is a freer run, more lithe wine than the Chavaroche." (drinkrhone)
The 2020 Bonnefond "Colline de Couzou" is 80% on northern sector schist in Rozier, Côte Rozier and Les Rochains, 20% southern sector loose granite from Tupin, Coteaux de Semons. "dark red; licorice, black cherry airs in an upright nose, has a clear tone, some blueberry mystery. The attacks strikes well - good dark fruits line the palate, are fresh, purposeful, carry depth. It holds well, the length good, the finale lip smacking. Its tannins come forward, are noticeable and ripe. 14°. “It’s silky, has bel balance,” C Bonnefond. (drinkrhone) Drink over the next 20 years.
100% Syrah, 60% from Chavaroche (1940s), 40% from Mollard, Côte Brune, Côte Blonde (1978-80), whole bunch fermentation, 3 week vinification in 50 hl concrete vats, cap is immersed, twice daily pumping overs, held at 29°C , aged in 30% new, 70% used oak casks, barrels for 24 months. "The bouquet has a curvy air, an aroma of mulled raspberry and blackberry, has scope, is rounded and rather bountiful, comes with a game side, the depth probing. It can open well, around 2030, say. The palate also carries a meaty angle, is a virile style of wine, clenched tight on the second half, demanding tannins present, rigour. The finish is solid, intense, very close knit. This is dark wine, smoky for now, has a lot of density, is compact. There are pockets of iron within from the schist. “It contains energy within,” Agnès Levet (drinkrhone) Drink until 2050.
The 2020 Gilles Cornas (Chaillot) is mostly from 40+ year-old vines on Les Grands Murs and Les Terrasses, both on Chaillot, plus older vines on Mazards and Saveaux, Practicing organic, whole-cluster fermentation, aging in old 400 liter and 600 liter casks. "full red robe; the bouquet is inky, shows soaked cherries, raspberry, is potentially an open arms affair Cornas, comes with neat floral drifts. The palate has a tight red fruit strike, a wee note of acetate, emphasis in the tannins, a firm clench on the finish, blood late on, rocky, crushed nutshells notes. It holds good inner, resolute gras richness, a very true Cornas foundation, heart. The finish is fresh, both aromatic and tannic. This will age very well, has resources and, typicity." Drink over the next 20 - 25 years.
The 2020 Lionnet "Pur Granit" is from young massale-selection vines in very rocky, granite soils on Chataignier above Chaillot. 3 week whole bunch fermentation in steel & concrete vats, wild yeasts, pumping overs the first 2-3 days, then cap punching by foot, SO2 not applied until after malo, aged in 4-10 year-old 600-litre oak casks for 15-17 months. "...full, dark robe; there’s a fluid density on the bouquet, rolling black cherry, pretty blackberry, gives a very good fruit strike. The palate holds well toned, suave gras, is easier to approach than the 20 Terre Brûlée, sustains its stylish gras with certainty, velvet on the inside, along with ripe tannins that add depth and are well orchestrated. It runs straight along into the finish, violet there, the tannins munchy, gourmand. It’s rather silken, self contained. 13.5°. " (drinkrhone)
From 1960s Syrah on Mazards, 1940s Syrah on Combe, also Chaillot, Pied la Vigne, Chataignier/Saint Pierre, 2-3 week whole bunch fermentation. Aged 50% 600-litre, 50% 228-litre 2-8 year oak casks for 15-16 months. "...dark robe; the nose is sweet toned, comes with blackberries, herbs, smoke, licorice. The palate is marked by coffee-mocha, is blue-fruited, with kick late on, from within, iron a-plenty. Its suave tendencies are very typical of 2020, it has coated tones, agreeable, squeezy gras, pings of licorice-salt through it, southern links, black olives, late crunch. It’s very genuine Cornas, its juice running well on a zig zag late on, lively tones, zip, a good do. “It’s less muscled than 2019,” Ludovic Izérable. (drinkrhone)