Domaine Lionnet’s junior wine

Only a quickie, but hopefully of use. Domaine Lionnet has been fortunate to feature on Elitistreview before. This is a more junior wine than the grand Cornas. It is Domaine Lionnet Saint-Joseph ‘Terre Neuve’ 2017. ‘Terre Neuve’ is ‘New land’ – it is Domaine Lionnet’s most recent acquisition.

Saint-Joseph is a humble appellation and the pricing of this is accordingly affordable (£22 a pop from Blast Vintners). It is a good thing for a producer of mainly premium wine (Cornas at Domaine Lionnet) to have an entry level, general-drinking wine to introduce beginners to the wines of the Domaine.

Such is Saint-Joseph’s status as a general quaffer that, when I was in an Oxford University blind tasting team trip to the Northern Rhône in the early 90s, Gerard Jaboulet freely gave us a case of his Saint-Joseph to have with our lunch after our tasting with him. If memory serves they still remain, untouched and unloved, in Jeremy Seysses’ cellar.

Domaine Lionnet’s Saint-Joseph should be significantly more serious than that and 2017 was a top bunny vintage in the Northern Rhône, so let us expect good things – even if greatness is not on the cards.

Domaine Lionnet Saint-Joseph 'Terre Neuve' 2017Saint-Joseph ‘Terre Neuve’ 2017, Domaine Lionnet

This has a warm, spicy, peppery nose with some good blackberry fruit. This smells distinctly more powerful and richly fruited than a typical Saint-Joseph – there is a shade of Christmas pudding complexity and density to it which is nice.

There is an undercurrent of the characteristic Saint-Joseph red, slightly bubblegum-y fruit, but this is largely hidden by those aromas mentioned above. There is no harm in even a serious producer like Domaine Lionnet showing a bit of the terroir of a junior appellation in their junior wine.

Domaine Lionnet’s Saint-Joseph has a structure a definite step or several above junior wine. Bold, ripe, polished tannins with a good zap of acidity keeping it all fresh and perky. Yum, lovely!

Saint-Joseph bubblegum red fruit is completely over-powered by a far more delicious, even slightly complex melange of ripe blackberries and blackcurrants. A bit of blackberry leaf sneaks into this melange and its freshness is most welcome.

Pepper and spice also seem remarkably abundant for a Saint-Joseph and there is no loathsome Brett-y shittiness present, so this is quite the charmer.

Domaine Lionnet Saint-Joseph is a surprisingly serious junior wine to start the beginners on. It shows the terroir, has good fruit, nice peppery Syrah characters, an impressively solid structure, whilst being zippy and fresh. If your junior wine drinkers will not come to the table to drink up you can finish the bottle quite happily. It is proper wine!

Good value at £22 from Blast Vintners.