Jean-Michel Stephan, 2015 So'Brune
Region: Cote Rotie
This wine….. Powerful and intense. So'Brune is amongst the top single vineyard expressions from Jean-Michel. Offering a more concentrated, savoury style compared to the Cote Rotie.
This wine comes from
Former Guigal assistant Jean-Michel Stephan launched his modest enterprise in 1991. He has eight acres of mostly old vines in various parcels in Côte Rôtie’s southern sector. These 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 his 0.6 hectare Côteaux de Tupin parcel. The Bassenon site is on the southern border of the appellation next to Condrieu and includes some of the oldest vines in Côte Rôtie. Part of this 1.5 hectare vineyard was planted in 1896 with another parcel added in 1902. A tiny third vineyard parcel - just 0.3 hectare - in the north of the appellation at Verenay is also part of the Domaine. Jean-Michel, who did his enology studies in Belleville, Beaujolais, is a disciple of Beaujolais native Jules Chauvet, France’s legendary father of natural winemaking. He tends his steep hillside vineyards without the use of chemicals and ploughs either by horse or by winch.
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. Domaine Stephan’s Côteaux de Tupin is 100% Sérine. In most years, Jean-Michel bottles his Côteaux de Bassenon using the vineyard’s old-vine Sérine and Viognier in combination with the younger Syrah planted on the site. The tiny parcel from Verenay is bottled as ‘So’brune’ and is norally around 92% Syrah and 8% Viognier.
The abstract artwork for the two single-vineyard Côte Rôties, by the way, was at one time magnet-mounted on the Stephan family’s refrigerator - the artists being Jean-Michel’s young sons, Romain and Dorian! Since the turn of the millennium, 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..