Tear-Jerking Syrah

Today’s Story: Thierry Allemand

Founded in 1982, Thierry Allemand’s winery originated as one member of a small bastion of producers in Cornas who sought to revitalize what was the “red-headed stepchild” of Northern Rhône. Though the wines of Cornas were once adored, the terraced vineyards fell into great disrepair during the early 20th century and many large négociants churned out harsh wines with heavy tannins that drove consumers away. During the 1980s, Thierry Allemand worked for Domaine Robert Michel when he started assembling (and more so rescuing) abandoned vineyards that needed clearing and restructuring of terraced walls. The process of building his own domaine took 15 years and he utilized many things he learned at Domaine Robert Michel (including terrace farming and noninterventionist winemaking) during construction and onward.

Allemand’s vineyards total less than 5 hectares and his annual production is about 650 cases of wine. While all fruit is farmed organically, Allemand takes this a step further and does everything by hand (not even a tractor is used in the vineyards). All of his wines are fermented in stainless steel and open-top wood vats, stems are left on cluster, punch-downs are by foot, and each wine is vinified separately. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered, while very little (and sometimes none at all) sulfur is added. Allemand produces the “Les Chaillots” from vines 5-40 years old in limestone and granite, as well as the “Reynard” with vines 34-90 years old in decomposed granite.

Today’s Wine: 2011 Cornas Reynard Vineyard

100% Syrah; 13.5% ABV

My first (and long overdue) bottle of Allemand and I must say I am incredibly impressed. The wine is medium to deep ruby in color and we let this decant due to its young age. Once the wine opens up, the nose showcases aromas of plum, black cherry, blueberry, crunchy cranberry, smoked red meat, fresh leather, purple florals, black peppercorn, cedar, and mint. Right out of the bottle, the nose showed aromas of barnyard and forest floor that mostly blew off after decanting. In the mouth this beauty shows notes of blackberry, blueberry, violet, damp loamy soil, cigar box, slate, crushed stone, and spicy minerality. Medium- to full-bodied with high acidity and dusty medium (+) tannins, this incredible Syrah finishes long with dominating notes of black fruit, crushed rock, and spicy pepper.

Price: $300. Not an everyday wine, though great for a celebration or nice dinner (I drank this at Spago Beverly Hills). Pair this with beef (like Spago’s Snake River Farms Wagyu), duck, pheasant, or even roast chicken and rabbit (like my fellow diners).

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