Ludovic Izerable, a refugee from the Haute Savoie city of Grenoble, married Corinne Lionnet whose family has been growing grapes in the village of Cornas since 1575 (that’s correct… no typo… almost five centuries ago). Corinne took control of the domaine in 2003 when her father, Pierre, retired. She and Ludovic now run the show.
The domaine is quite small, only 2.2 hectares at the moment (additional vineyards will be added to the domaine shortly enabling Domaine Lionnet to also produce a Saint Joseph). The vineyards are organically farmed and are certified as such by Ecocert. The vineyards are divided into four separate parcels across four distinct lieu-dits: Mazards, Combes, Chaillot and Brugeres. The vines are all between the ages of 40 and 100 years old! All work in the vineyard is manual. Each parcel is harvested separately, and vinification is done parcel by parcel as well. The harvest, of course, is manual with a severe selection being done in the vineyard. The cuvaison is long (three weeks) and the fermentation is completely natural: indigenous yeasts and no other materials whatsoever (no albumin, no enzymes, no gelatins … zero!). The grapes are left intact; they are never destemmed. The fermentation occurs in cement vats; then, the wines are racked into large oak barrels (tonneaux and demi-muids). No new oak is used.
"Ludovic Izerable’s 2018s and 2019s show distinctly elegant character, offering fine delineation and well-knit tannins. Izerable said that paying attention to rising sugar levels in the grapes 'was really critical if you wanted to avoid getting overripe fruit – not that there was a lot of it in either year.' Here’s another domaine whose production is quite small but which has been receiving increased attention from the local market while also developing an international following. A bit of sleuthing will likely be required to track these wines down.
"Ludovic Izerable and Corinne Lionnet's wines continue to sneak under the radar of too many northern Rhône enthusiasts, which is good news for those who are already clued in to this small domaine. Their whole-cluster-fermented wines, sourced from their biodynamically farmed vineyards (2.85 hectares in total) are classically proportioned and distinctly graceful in style, with very little, if any, oak presence. The 2017 vintage was handled with aplomb here, with the wines showing excellent balance and distinct freshness – hardly the qualities one expects to find from a hot vintage. For those who are able to source the 2016s from Lionnet, do it, as the wines are showing extremely well already but have the energy and balance to age effortlessly."