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Introduction

Le bouche à oreille: word of mouth... This, according to Bastien Tardieu, is the secret to Tardieu-Laurent, micro-négociant extraordinaire.

Tardieu Family

Established by Bastien’s father Michel Tardieu in the mid-1990s, this is a highly personal business, which runs on reputation and individual recommendations.

As Bastien tells it, when he set out, his father asked producers two questions: “From which producers in the same appellation they liked to drink their wines and if they had any friends/producers with well-located old vines [who would be] interested to work with us. And producers organised the meeting. And to be honest, it's still working like that today.”

Michel and Bastien buy grapes, vinify them in the regions of origin and then mature them all under one roof. The wines come from a 300km stretch, from Côte-Rôtie in the north to Bandol in the south. Tardieu-Laurent’s home, where élevage takes place, is Lourmarin, in Provence – a dream location.

Corney & Barrow has been Michel and Bastien Tardieu’s exclusive UK agent since 2002. We are now proud to also represent them exclusively in Hong Kong also.

Overall, the Tardieu 2020s are as good as any I recall tasting. The north edges it, but there are brilliant buys across the range. At the top end, the two Cornas particularly wowed us this year, whilst the Nobles Origines red and white are outstanding value picks.

GUY SEDDON
November 2021

2020: THE GROWING SEASON

“Less alcohol, more tension, with each cuvée clearly speaking of its native terroir – the very definition of reference classics!” MICHEL TARDIEU, JULY 2021

The winery

The above comment by Michel Tardieu referred specifically to the northern Rhône. 2020 in the north is a simply stunning vintage, a must-have year, with long-term potential. In the south, it was necessary to be more selective – and that, fortunately, is where the detail-driven Tardieu-Laurent excels.

We tasted the wines with Bastien Tardieu via Zoom – Team C&B in grey London, he in sunny Lourmarin, Provence (not that we were jealous or anything). Bastien opened by expressing a personal preference for the northern Rhône in 2020, which chimes with his father’s quote above.

Compared to the previous two vintages, he said he favours 2020’s balance over the sunnier, more ‘solar’ character of 2018 and even over the lauded 2019.

2020 was the third consecutive vintage of drought. Fortunately, however, its cool nights preserved the low levels of soil moisture. As harvest approached, there was a disparity between the high sugar ripeness and the less developed phenolic ripeness. This was most evident among the young vines and early picked plots – which fortunately are few and far between chez Tardieu.

Some rain around 20th September was very welcome in the plots which had not already been harvested. For the rest, in Michel Tardieu’s words, “Only the Very Old Vines, meticulously worked, met the expectations of the most demanding vignerons, at the cost of low to extremely low yields.”

THE WINES

the winery

WHITE - SOUTHERN RHÔNE

The 2020 Southern Rhônes are wines of rich, expressive fruit. The whites really stand out – they are harmonious and highly characterful. Despite the warmth of the summer, there is fabulous freshness here – what Michel calls “high-flying essence”.

Several of the Tardieu-Laurent wines are labelled as ‘Vieilles Vignes’, or ‘VV’. While there is no fixed definition of this, Michel and Bastien consider an average of 40 years to be the minimum for a wine to be designated as such.

CÔTES-DU-RHÔNE BLANC, LES BECS FINS

40% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 10% Marsanne, 10% Roussanne and 10% Clairette. Fine white peach and green citrus aromas. The palate is clipped and precise on the entry, the lime and apple fruit filling out on the mid-palate, with chalky, phenolic grip adding definition. Peach and orange zest on the finish. A refreshing, succulent white. This spends six months ageing in concrete tanks, with no oak. 13.5% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 16.5+
Recommended drinking from 2021–2023


£130 / CASE OF 12 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

CÔTES-DU-RHÔNE BLANC NOBLES ORIGINES

Previously called Guy Louis, Nobles Origines is a blend of the northern and southern Rhône, which is uncommon. 35% Grenache Blanc (70+ years old), 15% Roussanne, 15% Marsanne, 20% Clairette and 15% Viognier. These declassified cru grapes include a third from Crozes-Hermitage. 100% barrel fermentation makes this a fuller bodied option than Becs Fins. Very food-friendly too, with delectable peach-driven flavours. This punches way above its weight. Aged for eight months in new, one- and two-year old barrels. 14% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2023–2027


£85/CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE BLANC VIEILLES VIGNES

This comes from three sites around Châteauneuf. 40% Grenache Blanc, 25% Roussanne, 20% Clairette, 10% Bourboulenc and 5% Piquepoul. White peach, pepper and cedar aromas. Jasmine, apricot and a salty granularity on the palate make this a sure bet. The flavours ebb and flow on the long finish – just sit back and savour… Fermented in barrel with eight months lees contact, a little of the Roussanne being aged in new oak barrels. Michel says that in Burgundian terms, this would be a Pouilly-Fuissé... 13.5% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5 - 18
Recommended drinking from 2022–2027


£195/CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK
Bastien Tardieu in Cellars

RED - SOUTHERN RHÔNE

The 2020 Southern Rhônes are wines of rich, expressive fruit and supple, silky tannins. The reds arguably deliver upfront pleasure more than long-term ageing (which is a comment on their character rather than their quality).

Sorting the reds was crucial in 2020 – and it is here that the rigorous approach of the Tardieus is so important – only the “crème de la crème” was retained, as Michel put it – adding that the older Grenache vines, “with yields controlled by Mother Nature, worked wonders.” I would add that silky tannins are a particular stamp of the old vine Grenache in 2020.

CÔTES-DU-RHÔNE, LES BECS FINS

This comes from the big, rounded galets pebbles of the Gard. It is all destemmed. 70% Grenache (60 years old) and 30% Syrah (30 years old). Deep, bright ruby colour. Aromas of rich raspberry fruit, violet and liquorice. The palate is juicy and succulent, warming blueberry and raspberry tarte flavours framed by supple tannins. Astonishingly good at this price. This spends 6 months ageing in concrete tanks. 14.5% abv, totally integrated.

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2021–2024


£130 / CASE OF 12 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

CÔTES-DU-RHÔNE, NOBLES ORIGINES

This is the wine previously known as Guy Louis. This all comes from declassified cru holdings. It comes from various southern Rhône villages, including Rasteau, Vacqueyras and Beaumes-de-Venise, with the majority from Lirac, on the western side of the Rhône. 70% Grenache (50+ years old), 20% Syrah (40+ years old, from Rasteau) and 10% Mourvèdre (30-40 years old), all farmed organically. One third whole bunches were used, as usual. Brightly red berried and peppery on the nose. The palate is juicy and attractive, with dense, ripe blackberry fruit, the supple tannins providing impressive structure. Give this a couple of years in bottle to meld. Aged for 10 months in one- and two-year-old barrels, then for eight months in old oak foudres. 14.5% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 16.5 - 17
Recommended drinking from 2023–2029


£85/CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

CÔTES-DU-RHÔNE CUVÉE SPÉCIALE

This is a 100% whole bunch vinification of Grenache, from 70 year-old vines on the border of the Châteauneuf appellation. A lovely sappy nose of sweet spices and spherical raspberry fruit. Herby tension on the palate adds lift to the intense red berry flavours. Lingering pepper and garrigue on the finish. Quite simply brilliant value southern Rhône Grenache. This is all bottled in magnums (just 150 of them). It spends eight months in two- and three-year-old barrels, then ten months in foudres. Lovely delicacy this year. 14.5% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2022–2027


£115/CASE OF 3 MAGNUMS, IN BOND UK

RASTEAU VIEILLES VIGNES

70% Grenache (the vines of which are a magnificent 80 years old), 10% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre (both ‘only’ 40 years old). A third of the grapes were left un-destemmed and fermented as whole bunches. The warmest place in the southern Rhône, Rasteau can also be wonderfully ephemeral, flirtatious even. Bastien: “I like Rasteau in 2020, as there is less alcohol and density than usual.” The oldest vines here were planted in 1921, so are centenarians this year. This is a charming, elegant wine, which is hard to pull off from such a warm part of the valley. Part comes from a site called La Montagne, at 300 metres of elevation. Aged for 10 months in one- and two-year-old barrels, then for a further 10 in foudres. 14.5% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17 - 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2025–2031


£100/CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

VACQUEYRAS VIEILLES VIGNES

If Rasteau is flirtatious, Vacqueyras is usually earthier and more leathered – it is the driest part of the southern Rhône. Half of this wine comes from sandy soils which, in combination with cool aspects, lend a silkiness to the tannins. 70% Grenache (over 60 years old), 20% Mourvèdre and 10% Syrah (both 40 years old). 50% whole bunch fermented (the whole bunches are of Grenache, the other varieties being destemmed). The nose is raisined and bitter cherried, with plum and dense blueberry fruit. The palate is pure and refined, those sandy soils coming into play on the finish. This always needs long élevage and bottle ageing. 14.5% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17
Recommended drinking from 2026–2034


£115 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

GIGONDAS VIEILLES VIGNES

This old vine Gigondas cuvée comes from five plots in Gigondas, at around 400 metres of altitude, from the Dentelles foothills. 90% Grenache, 5% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre, ranging from 40 to over 100 years old. 75% whole-bunch fermented. Dark and chocolatey on the nose, leading into a palate of deft violets and pretty raspberry fruit. There is more sucrosity on the palate, with a sappy freshness which lifts the dense dark berry fruit. The tannins are refined and just shy of silky. Brimming with southern Rhône personality. Aged for 10 months in one- and two-year-old barrels and then 12 months in old oak foudres. 14.5% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17+
Recommended drinking from 2027–2035


£135 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK
£150 / CASE OF 3 MAGNUMS, IN BOND UK

BANDOL

“The Bordeaux of the South”, as it is known in the Rhône, this comes from clay-limestone soils. 95% Mourvèdre and 5% Grenache, over 50 years old. This is the last red tasted in the Tardieu-Laurent line-up – and there is a reason for that… Glass-staining ruby (almost black!) colour, this is always a big wine. Gamey and dark chocolatey on the nose. The palate is leathered, evoking wizened vines and Mediterranean tapenade. Aged for 24 months in one- and two-year-old barrels. 14% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17 - 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2026–2033


£125 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE

This comes from five plots in Châteauneuf and is 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and 5% Cinsault. The Grenache and Cinsault is 60 to 80 years old, the Syrah 40 years old. Half whole-bunch vinified. This was all picked after the rain, lending a softness to the tannins and an ease. A hot earthy nose, leading into a palate of violets and peonies, very upbeat and early drinking in style. 14.5% abv. This over-delivers for its level – a pick.

Corney & Barrow Score 18
Recommended drinking from 2023–2028


£175 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE VIEILLES VIGNES

This comes from five old-vine plots. It is 80% Grenache (80-100 years old), 15% Mourvèdre (60 years old) and 5% Syrah (50 years old). There are 30cm of galets roulets, then red clay. A half whole-bunch vinified. A little reductive smokiness, pointing to a long-ageing wine. The palate is succulent and red cherried, a powerful core of bright raspberry and plushly fruit-coated tannins (which, according to Bastien, is the mark of the 2020 vintage). Really impressive. Aged for 12 months in one year-old barrels, then for 12 months in foudres. 14.5% abv. 

Corney & Barrow Score 18
Recommended drinking from 2025–2033


£215 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE CUVÉE SPÉCIALE

Made from century-old vines at the base of La Crau on sandy soils, this is effectively a Grenache-only Châteauneuf (with 1% “other varieties”). 100% whole-bunch fermented. Sweet and succulent, soft and herb-infused, with a gently coffeed edge. There is a lightness of touch here, an aromatic airiness which takes this up and beyond. Wonderful. A year in old oak barrels and then a further year in foudre. 14.5% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 18+
Recommended drinking from 2028–2038


£245 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK
£260 / CASE OF 3 MAGNUMS, IN BOND UK
Cellars

WHITE - NORTHERN RHÔNE

2020 in the Northern Rhône is a vintage of “absolute classicism”, Michel enthuses, adding “grandiose could be the word” and “simply outstanding”. There is real terroir definition here, each of the northern reds speaking eloquently of its origin. 

Several of the Tardieu-Laurent wines are labelled as ‘Vieilles Vignes’, or ‘VV’. While there is no fixed definition of this, Michel and Bastien consider an average of 40 years to be the minimum for a wine to be designated as such.

CROZES-HERMITAGE VIEILLES VIGNES

80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne, from three different sites, with an average age of over 50 years. Pastry and white peach on the nose, fine and precise. The palate is chalky and mineral, with pear and green citrus fruit. This spends 10 months in a combination of new and used barrels, then is very lightly filtered, with no fining. 14% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 16.5 - 17
Recommended drinking from 2022–2025


£140/CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

SAINT-JOSEPH BLANC VIEILLES VIGNES

85% Marsanne and 15% Roussanne, from three different sites, aged 30-40 years. This is the second vintage of this wine. Very pure aromas of orange rind, apricot and quince. The palate is lean and acid-driven, cool and focused. More ‘intellectual’ maybe – a wonderful wine, with a salty seam on the finish. Aged for 10 months in a mixture of new and used barrels. 14% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2021–2026


£150/CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

SAINT-PÉRAY VIEILLES VIGNES

Bastien Tardieu calls this “the little Hermitage Blanc”. 50% Marsanne (50-100 years old) and 50% Roussanne (over 40 years old). Rich and smoky on the nose, this has that quintessential bacon fat and a salty granularity. A decadent yet fresh wine, appealing to those looking for something on the full-bodied side which will nonetheless drink beautifully on its own. Aged for 12 months in a mixture of new and one-year-old barrels. 14% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2022–2026


£140/CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

CONDRIEU

100% Viognier, from six plots in Condrieu. A cooler, more focussed year for Condrieu, this is a crowd-pleasing vintage, energetic and perfumed (apricots and blossom), without the full-on waxiness and pungency of some years. Very good. Aged for 10 months in new and one year-old barrels. 13.5% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2022–2025


£200 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

HERMITAGE BLANC

80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne. The Marsanne is over 50 years old, whilst the Roussanne is over 40 years old. Best drunk at 8-10 years of age, according to Michel. Hay and cedar on the nose, this promises to be textural and savoury. All about the texture rather than the fruit, with tannins shaping the substantial palate, channelling the white peach and apricot flavours. Patience required but it will be worth the wait. Fermented in barrel, then transferred to Stockinger Austrian foudres (which the Tardieus are using more and more). 14% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 18
Recommended drinking from 2024–2029


£265 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK
£280 / CASE OF 3 MAGNUMS, IN BOND UK
Bottles

RED - NORTHERN RHÔNE

2020 in the Northern Rhône is a vintage of “absolute classicism”, Michel enthuses, adding “grandiose could be the word” and “simply outstanding”. There is real terroir definition here, each of the northern reds speaking eloquently of its origin. The Cornas and Côte-Rôtie are possibly the best I have tasted here.

Several of the Tardieu-Laurent wines are labelled as ‘Vieilles Vignes’, or ‘VV’. While there is no fixed definition of this, Michel and Bastien consider an average of 40 years to be the minimum for a wine to be designated as such.

SAINT-JOSEPH VIEILLES VIGNES

100% Syrah and Serine, Serine being an ancient clone of Syrah, the berries of which are more oval-shaped and less deeply pigmented than Syrah. The former vines are over 60 years old, the latter 100-120+ years old! Two thirds whole bunch fermentation. A peppery, darkly berried nose leads into an aromatic palate of pure blackberry fruit. “More Chambolle”, in Bastien’s words. Supple tannins and some sappy crunch. Violet aromas linger on the finish. Aged for a year in barrel, then eight months in foudre. 13.5% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5 - 18
Recommended drinking from 2025–2030


£150 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

CROZES-HERMITAGE VIEILLES VIGNES

100% Syrah, from 60-year-old vines. There is one third whole bunch fermentation here. This comes from four sites: Larnage, Battis, Gervans and Habrard. A truly lovely nose of raspberry, black pepper, blackcurrant and sous-bois. The palate is zesty and light on its feet, white peppery spice and red berries. Following fermentation, it is aged for 12 months in new and one-year-old barrels, then spends six months in foudres. 13.5% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5+
Recommended drinking from 2025–2030


£125/CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK
£140/CASE OF 3 MAGNUMS, IN BOND UK

CORNAS

Cornas is known as the “vin noir”, and you can see why as soon as you pour it – inky and glass-staining, with a bright purple rim. 100% Syrah/Serine, 60 to 100 years old. It comes from three plots, on typical granite soils. A half whole bunch fermentation. This is more refined on the nose than in some years, rendered as peppery and darkly berried, with primary fruited verve. The palate is more elegant than I was expecting, with an attractive juiciness. Aged for 24 months in new and one year-old barrels. 14% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 17
Recommended drinking from 2025–2035


£185/CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

CORNAS VIEILLES VIGNES

If Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage are the go-to northern Rhône appellations, Cornas is the insider’s choice. 100% Serine/Syrah, ranging from 80 to over 100 years old. 75% whole bunch fermented. This comes from mid-slope plots of Patou, a total of 5ha. Intensely perfumed – blueberries, roses and liquorice. The palate is pliant and giving on the attack, a fine tannic grip emerging on the mid-palate. Superlative texture and rich, harmonious fruit, with a deft balancing structure and a long, focused finish. Aged for 24 months in new and one year-old barrels. 

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5 -18
Recommended drinking from 2026–2036


£295 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

CÔTE-RÔTIE VIEILLES VIGNES

From the Côte Brune, this is the fourth vintage of this wine, which is sourced from the prime vineyards of Landonne, Lancement and Chavaroche. The vines here are 60-70 years old on average. 100% whole bunch vinified. The aromas here are a classic Côte-Rôtie mix of deft perfume and the animal sauvage. Blackberry fruit lifted by orange zest and spices, white pepper and tangerine – cool and precise, delicate. The tannins are filigree and beautifully defined. I can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with this wine. 13.5% abv.

Corney & Barrow Score 18.5
Recommended drinking from 2026–2036


£310 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK
£325 / CASE OF 3 MAGNUMS, IN BOND UK

HERMITAGE

This comes from five plots, including the prestigious Le Meal. 100% Serine and Syrah, from 60-year-old vines. Two thirds whole bunch vinification. Dark berries, pepper, leather and bacon fat aromas – the nose is firmly in the savoury camp, chiming with Bastien’s description of this as the “most Mediterranean wine of the north.” A plush red-fruited palate is the perfect counterpoint, zesty orange rind lifting the fruit flavours and lending a winning approachability to what is undeniably a full-bodied, age-worthy wine. Aged for a year in new and one year-old barrels, then for another year in foudres. One of the pinnacles of the line-up. 14% abv. 

Corney & Barrow Score 18.5
Recommended drinking from 2025–2038


£295 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK
£310 / CASE OF 3 MAGNUMS, IN BOND UK

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