Thierry Allemand | Wine producer in Cornas in the northern Rhône, France.
Background | ‘Thierry Allemand is the standard bearer in Cornas,’ says Roy Richards. ‘Like many great artists, Thierry is a hard-working, brilliant and complicated man. He had no agricultural background whatsoever. Thierry grew up in Cornas because his father found work in a local factory and settled there. At a young age he developed a passion for the local wine and starting working as a cellar-rat at Domaine Robert Michel, where he stayed for 10 years. During his tenure, in 1981, he bought a few ares of an abandoned vineyard, which he set about cleaning up in his spare time, removing scrub and weeds, rebuilding walls and reinforcing terraces. In 1982 he made a total of just 64 cases. However, and still working part-time as an electrician, by 1990 he had enough land to produce two different cuvées, les Chaillots and les Reynards (see below),’ Roy Richards told me (Sept 2017). Thierry also worked under Noël Verset (who considered him to be his heir apparent).
Vineyards | ‘S, E & S-E facing. Granite subsoil, limestone topsoil with pockets of clay. 8,000-9,000 vines per hectare (3,240-3,645 vines per acre). Bush vines. Trained to stakes. Thierry now cultivates a total of 4,3 hectares of vines in Cornas and a third of a hectare of white in Saint- Péray. The les Chaillots parcel is situated on slopes to the north-west of Cornas, it has a higher proportion of clay and it is here that Thierry has his younger vines. The les Reynards is to be found to the west of the village, is much more granitic [than les Chaillots], and is perhaps the most well-exposed of the various sites. It is also where the oldest vines are to be found, many more than 80 years old,’ Roy Richards told me (Sept 2017).
Viticulture | 2017 ‘We are not certified organic, but we do not use herbicides or pesticides or anything like that,’ Thierry’s wife told me on 12th October 2017 by ‘phone.
Winery, winemaking | Thierry moved from the cramped conditions of his cellar in the village of Cornas to a newly constructed building ‘on top of the coteau overlooking the village (at 410m asl). Here he has a lot more space to work and he is able to vinify each tiny plot separately. Additionally, at this altitude, temperatures are cooler which encourages a slower, less violent fermentation – “the best wines are always those which have the slowest temperature curve”. If he has a bête noire it is sulphur: he uses a minimum in his standard wines (at bottling only) and produces a small cuvée each year entirely without sulphur,’ Roy Richards told me (Sept 2017). The red wine grapes undergo neither crushing nor destemming. They are foot-trodden (pigeage), and the wines are bottled unfined.
Saint-Péray AOC | Made from 0.35 hectares (0.86 acres) of 1950s Marsanne at the bottom of Grand Plantier on clay-limestone.
‘Because Thierry does long elevage – 2 to 3 years – there are few primary flavours after bottling. This means that the wines can appear a little dull if approached too early. Once mature, the Chaillots has more fruit and vibrancy, whilst the Reynard is more about texture, silky and baroque,’ Roy Richards told me (Sept 2017).
Cornas AOC, Les Chaillots | 100% Syrah. Bush vines tied to stakes. South, east and south-east facing. 200 metres (656 feet). Granite subsoil, clay & limestone topsoil. On slopes to the north-west of Cornas, it has a higher proportion of clay and it is here that Thierry has his “younger” vines of 3-40 years old. 3309C rootstock and unidentified rootstocks. 8,000-9,000 vines per hectare (3,240-3,645 vines per acre). No crushing or destemming. Wooden, stainless steel tanks. Pigeage. 24m in barriques not new. Racking at blending. Unfined. 6,000 bottles. | 1992 Half the crop rejected as substandard.
Cornas AOC, Reynardss | Made from old Syrah. Unknown rootstocks. 200 metres (656 feet). S, E and SE slopes. Granite subsoil, limestone topsoil with pockets of clay. Bush vines tied to stakes. 8,000-9,000 vines per hectare (3,240-3,645 vines per acre). West of the village, is much more granitic than Chaillots, and is perhaps the most well-exposed of the various sites. It is also where the oldest vines are to be found, many more than 80 years old. 4,000 bottles.
Saint-Joseph Rouge AOC | 2005 Appeared for this one vintage only. 3,300 bottles.
22 Impasse Les Granges
F-07130 Cornas (Ardèche), France