2014 Jean-Michel Stephan Côte-Rôtie Côteaux du Bassenon
To be completely frank, there are relatively few Côte-Rôtie producers worth paying attention to. Some people might be upset by this claim, but unless you really like oak (Guigal) or extraction (Chapoutier), then the names Gangloff, Jamet and Stephan are just about all you need in Côte-Rôtie.
The Stephan family is one of the largest landowners in Côte-Rôtie, for years now leasing their land to the very likes of Gangloff, Jamet, and even Matthieu Barret (Domaine du Coulet, Cornas) for that matter. Wanting to make sure the family still farms with the same level of connect to the land as the wine, Jean-Michel, now in his early fifties, has been quietly working on a few pockets on the Southern slopes of Côte Blonde for nearly three decades now.
A true vigneron, Jean-Michel tends to four blocks on the dauntingly steep slopes of Côte Rôtie himself, where the grapes eventually end up in his tiny winery of just 4x 1000L stainless steel open top fermenters and a handful of puncheons and barriques. He works mostly with Syrah, Sérine, said to be the parent grape of Syrah, and one small block of Viognier on the flat between the slopes and the river. His wines are always hand-harvested, hand-sorted, whole-bunch fermented and are handled as anaerobically as possible winery so just the smallest dose of sulphur dioxide (<20ppm) at bottling is enough to ensure stability in the bottle for years to come.
All of Jean-Michel Stephan’s red wines are all AOC Côte-Rôtie, while his white wine from the flat is classified as Vin de France due to it’s 100% Viognier make-up, despite its 200m distance from the Condrieu border!
A true natural wine - all of Jean-Michel’s wines are produced from his own Biodynamically-farmed estate fruit and are vinified and bottled on site.
Côteaux du Bassenon is a blend of approx. 80-85% Syrah and 15-20% Viognier from the prized gneiss-laced Southern slopes of Côte-Rôtie called Côteaux du Semons (aka Bassenon).