Jeff Welburn Selections

Rhone Valley

Jean-Michel Stephan
Côte Rôtie

Former Guigal assistant Jean-Michel Stephan’s modest domaine consists of eight acres of mostly old vines in various parcels in Côte Rôtie’s southern sector. His holdings include a high percentage of prized Sérine, the expressive, small berry ancestor of Syrah.

The majority of the domaine’s vines are in two perfectly-situated hillside lieux-dits: the Côteaux de Tupin and the Côteaux de Bassenon. Jean-Michel’s home and cellar are in the tiny village of Tupin-Semons at the base of the Côteaux de Tupin. The Bassenon site is on the southern border of the appellation next to Condrieu. With the sure-footedness of a mountain goat, Jean-Michel tends these steep hillside vineyards without the use of chemicals. He is a disciple of Jules Chauvet, France's legendary father of natural winemaking. His classic Côte Rôtie is a blend of Syrah and Viognier from various parcels, but he also isolates the domaine’s two distinct terroirs in separate, limited-production bottlings.

For the past five vintages (2003-2007) Domaine Stephan’s wines have garnered accolades from the most respected European and American wine critics, including consistent 92-96 scores from James Molesworth of the Wine Spectator.

Domaine Facts

Vines: Just over 8 acres spread out over 7 parcels in the southern part of Côte Rôtie appellation including 3.7 acres on the Côteaux du Tupin and 3.2 acres on the Côteaux de Bassenon. Vines are farmed organically (not certified).
Wines: Côte Rôtie Classic – 90% Syrah from various parcels, 10% Viognier from Tupin
Côte Rôtie Côteaux de Tupin – 100% Sérine
Côte Rôtie Côteaux de Bassenon – 60% Syrah, 30% Sérine, 10% Viognier
Côte Rôtie Vieille Vigne en Côteaux – Special selection of oldest Sérine from Bassenon (some 100+ years-old) with up to 20% Viognier
Soil: Granite-like gneiss with white mica (light color is origin of name Côte Blonde)
Côteaux de Bassenon contains some dark mica (Biotite or Migmatite Sombre) which is more prevalent in northern part of appellation (name Côte Brune comes from darker soils)
Harvest: Steep slopes require manual harvest using small bins
Yields: 25 hectoliters/hectare on average
Minuscule 15 to 20 hectoliters/hectare for Côteaux de Tupin and Bassenon
& Elevage:
Élevage takes place in a combination of new, one, and two-year-old oak barrels for a period of 16 to 22 months. Côte Rôties are racked only once and not filtered.
Annual Production: 9,600 bottles / 800 cases + small amount of Syrah and Viognier VDP de