The appellation of Cornas, a south-southeast-facing amphitheater, is spread over a series of steep, terraced vineyards that stretch dramatically up from the Rhône River. Near the very top of the hill lies Domaine de la Grande Colline, and the story of this estate is very much a reflection of this singular site. Owner and winemaker Jonathan Jacquart looks to capitalize on this unique location to produce his cult-caliber bottlings.
Jonathan began his wine career in restaurants, working as a sommelier in Paris at Michelin-starred Lasserre alongside the renowned Antoine Petrus. As a result of this experience, learning more about the winemaking process seemed like an ideal next step. He began working two vintages in the Rhône Valley with Emmanuel Reynaud at Château Rayas and then one vintage with Thierry Allemand, where he met Hirotake Ooka. Wanting to learn more about different growing regions, Jonathan traveled to Alsace, Jura, Languedoc, and Burgundy, making stops at such illustrious estates as Albert Boxler, Pierre Overnoy, and Domaine Dujac. Returning to the Rhône Valley, Allemand informed Jonathan that Domaine de la Grande Colline owner Hirotake Ooka decided to return to Japan. The property was up for sale, making this the perfect opportunity to gain access to the inimitable terroir this location has to offer.
Ooka had always taken a hands-off approach to maintaining the property, eschewing insecticides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers. Jonathan continues this philosophy by embracing biodynamics while making significant improvements to the vineyard and introducing biodiversity in the form of cows, bees, and new plantations of various plants and trees. The high-altitude location provides a more extended and cooler growing season, enabling full maturation of the fruit. Overall, the vinification is very simple, using whole bunches with light extraction, native yeasts, aging in neutral barrels sourced from the Dujac estate, bottling unfined and unfiltered, and sulfur used only at bottling.
The style of the wine has drastically changed since the Ooka era. Previously, the wines could be excellent however could also suffer from bottle variation. Jonathan has made it his goal to change that while also working in the most natural way possible, both in the vineyard and the cellar. He aims for wines that taste true to the Cornas terroir of deep, dark Syrah with savory, peppery notes and an incredible amount of depth. Now firmly in the hands of this rising winemaker star, Domaine de la Grande Colline is an ascendant property that is already making its mark in the world of wine lovers. With such attention to detail and the utmost care put into all this estate’s bottlings, Jonathan Jacquart’s next moves will be ones to watch.
Martine’s Wines is the exclusive U.S. importer for Domaine de la Grande Colline.