The domaine Jean-Michel Stephan was founded in 1991 and is situated in Tupin-et-Semons, just after Ampuis in the south of the Côte-Rôtie
appellation. Having started by renting wines in 1991, then by vinifying his own grapes in 1994, Jean-Michel Stéphan has amassed a beautiful heritage of 4,5 hectares of vines on Coteau de Bassenon, Tupin, Sow, Bercheries and Verenay. Syrah represents 60% of the vineyard followed by Serine (old Syrah variety with a small grain) 30%, and Viognier 10%.
When Jean-Michel Stéphan arrived, he had already studied in Morgon with Jean-Paul Brun (Domaine des Terres Dorées), it's therefore reasonable to believe that his winemaking was influenced by his experience with Gamay as his wines retain the purity of Côte-Rôtie with a surplus of energy and crunch. The age of the vineyard is advanced, the oldest vines were planted in 1896!
As Côte-Rôtie is composed of very steep hillsides in terraces, vineyard work is difficult and cannot be mechanised. Ploughing is done by winch and the rest of the vineyard is worked by horse. The domain is entirely organic, without any phytosanitary products. The grape juices must be irreproachable because fermentations are triggered by indigenous yeasts and partially carried out in carbonic maceration (as in the Beaujolais), thus guaranteeing an energetic juice and preserving the expression of the terroir. Since 1997, no sulphur has been added to the wines, either at the end of harvest, the end of fermentation, during the ageing process or bottling. The wines are aged from 12 to 24 months in used barrels without fining or filtering. Jean-Michel Stephan makes every effort to bring out the freshness, purity of the fruit, delicacy and elegance in his wines. Because of the minimal use of sulphur, a slight reduction can become apparent upon opening, but this fades quickly after aeration.
The Côte-Rôtie's of Jean-Michel Stephan are among the most sought after of the appellation as they reveal excellent potential, while presenting a great accessibility in their youth. His basic «Côte Rôtie» expresses beautiful aromas of blackcurrant and blackberry, but also sweet spices (cinnamon, liquorice), as well as delicate and integrated notes of oak. The mouth brings finesse, elegance, roundness, fruitiness and silky tannins. «Bassenon» is a plot aged in barrels for 24 months that offers aromas of blackcurrant, licorice, pepper and violets. On the palate, the wine is all finesse and delicacy, with coated tannins, and a long tasty finish. «Coteaux de Tupin» is 100% Serine and offers an expressive nose of red fruits, violets, and a touch of animal and red meat. On the palate, the wine is straight and taut, with nice freshness, purity of tannins, and a long fruity and peppery finish.