Matthieu Barret Cornas Brise Cailloux 2018

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90-92 points. -The Wine Advocate

"The entry-level Cornas is the 2018 Cornas Brise Cailloux. It's marked by scents of struck match, cracked pepper, black tea and fresh raspberries. Medium to full-bodied, it's silky in texture, loaded with red fruit, and finishes long.

Matthieu Barret farms (biodynamically) 20 hectares of Cornas and Côtes du Rhône, making him a substantial landowner in the context of tiny Cornas. The Côtes du Rhône vineyards lie between the Cornas and Saint-Joseph appellations, and the majority of his holdings in Cornas—the Domaine du Coulet—are in that same northern sector. Historically, the land was associated with the Hotel Louvée, but his grandfather planted the vines and then rented them to Jean Lionnet for years. Barret took over in the late 1990s and his first vintage on his own was 2001. During my visit, Barret pointed out that as it's largely east-facing, it's a cool site. The soils are mainly granite, with some clay and limestone at the bottom of the slope. Two-thirds of his Cornas vines are more than 50 years old, according to Barret. Almost all of the wines are 100% destemmed. "I look more for drinkability, elegance and freshness," he said. "Barrels are too oxidative and tire the wine. You lose the energy." Since the 2017 vintage, he no longer uses wooden vessels for aging, preferring to use a wide array of tanks. The cellar contains a crazy mix of steel and concrete in various shapes and sizes, including weird octagonal forms and eggs. He's excitedly eyeing his next acquisition, a 500-liter ceramic vat from Limoges. "It's 3,000 euros, but I have to have it," he said. In addition to the exciting estate wines from Domaine du Coulet, Barret works a number of partnerships to fill out the range of wines under his own négociant label, which reflect his own sensibilities. "My vision is to focus on grapes and terroir flavors." -JC 12/2019