From Coravin's Resident "Wine Guy" William Rohlfing:
I must admit some personal bias here. I love, love, love Syrah and very specifically Syrah from Cornas. Big brother across the river, Cote Rotie, may be more famous but I love the artisanal wines that come from tiny Cornas. Jacques Lemenicier learned to make Syrah from the famous Cornas producer Alain Voge and is carrying on his tradition of non-interventionist wine making—basically, grow the best grapes you can in the best location, and let the wine sing!
There is always a great sense of place, and something wild about honest Cornas; the wines really transport you to the Rhone and evoke a cold evening with the Mistral wind howling through the valley, while being in a kitchen with a bubbling pot of white beans and confit duck over a wood fire—all while enjoying, of course, a glass of Cornas wine! The wines are honest, savory, wild, and beautiful for it. This wine smells like smoked bacon, olive tapenade, crushed oyster shells, and dark fruit, and changes in the glass as you keep swirling and going back for more. If that doesn’t make you want confit duck to pair with it, I don’t know what will!
Equally nuanced on the palate, this Syrah manages the dance of being full bodied while still offering great lift so as not to be heavy. I promise, each sip will make you want to go back for another one! More of the same olive on the palate, cured meats, rosemary, framed by that beautiful tannin structure.
Tasting wines like this make me sad about all of the little animals on Australian bottles that have given Syrah/Shiraz a bad name; Syrah firmly stands its ground as one of the world’s greatest grapes when taken seriously, and Jacques certainly does that! Access a bottle with your Coravin and taste what Syrah was, in my humble opinion, always supposed to be.
Cornas, Northern Rhone, France
From his small vineyard in the Northern Rhône Valley, Jacques Leménicier produces two wines: a profound Cornas from 100% Syrah and a highly aromatic Saint Péray from Marsanne and Rousanne. An athletic, affable fellow, Leménicier happened into the wine business when he took a job with Robert Michel in 1974, before going to work for one of the most famous winemakers in the region, Alain Voge. He learned at the hand of Voge for more than a decade, eventually starting his own domaine on a small piece of land in the early 1980s. Employing the skills and knowledge he had accumulated, Leménicier began producing classic and expressive wines from Cornas and Saint Péray at incredible price points. During the past 20 years, these beautiful wines have sold out of Leménicier’s cellar mostly to private clients and restaurants throughout France.
Viticulture & Vinification
The vineyards of Jacques Leménicier sit at an average altitude of 200 meters. 3ha site in Cornas. The old vines are 100% de-stemmed and then put in tank with morning and evening punchdowns. For the younger vines, located on the foothills of Cornas and harvested later, the grapes remain 100% whole cluster and go through the same punchdown regimen. Vinification lasts 22 to 28 days. These two wines are both aged 12 months in oak barrels and are blended before bottling.