2015 Cornas, Chaillots, Domaine Thierry Allemand, Rhône
About this WINE
Domaine Thierry Allemand
Thierry Allemand one of the protégées of the now retired Robert Michel, is assuming the role of de facto wine master of the somewhat underrated village of Cornas.
Despite their precipitous nature, the slopes of Cornas are sheltered from the Mistral; their vines ripen earlier and their wines have a distinctive, powerful character.
Cornas is a small appellation, just 150 hectares, located south of St Joseph. It’s on the west side of the river. The name “Cornas” comes from an old Celtic dialect term, meaning “burnt land”, so it’s no surprise that on the steep terraces here, facing south, temperatures are significantly higher than those in Hermitage, which is just 7km away.
The granite soils are home to the Syrah grape, producing reds that sit somewhere between those of Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. These are strong and powerful wines, with nervy acidity and a robust, rustic charm to them. Their prominent tannins mean that they often demand time in the cellar to express their underlying elegance and complexity.
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.
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Tasting with Thierry taxes one’s French somewhat, such is his quiet, rapidly enunciated enthusiasm. And I thought that Bernard Faurie was difficult to understand. Thierry is a perfectionist, who has intimate knowledge of each barrel, let alone each corner, of this venerable lieu-dit. The age of the plot, the percentage of sand versus decomposed granite, the exact treatment of the stalks; all is documented minutely on a piece of paper precariously balanced on a barrel. The more unusual descriptors among my chaotic list include Turkish delight and musk. The overall impression is extremely positive. Drink 2022-2030+.
Simon Field MW, Wine Buyer
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