Domain: Jean-Michel Stephan
This exceptional domain produces – and it’s a rare enough fact in the region to be pointed out – natural Côte-Rôties without sulphites. He is converting to organic viticulture and takes inspiration from biodynamics, following the lunar calendar for instance. The results are stunning: wines which are admired for their freshness, purity and elegance.
Jean-Michel Stephan established his property in the commune of Tupin-Semons in the Côte-Rôtie appellation in 1991. This enthusiastic young winegrower planted his first hectare at the age of 14 and began his career at Jean-Paul Brun’s Domaine des Terres Dorées (Beaujolais). From the outset, he opted for a very natural approach, both in his vineyards and at the winery. His vineyard was even certified organic at one stage, until he left this system believing it to be unreliable (particularly in the area of checks). Although no longer accredited, he has retained the practices of organic farming and does not use any artificial products, only organic fertilisers. New plots are planted with massal-selection Serine. His 4.5 hectares of vines have a hillside location and an ideal south, south-east exposure. On some of these parcels the work can only be carried out with the help of a horse or on foot. After a meeting with Yvon Métras and Marcel Lapierre, Jean-Michel stopped adding sulphites to his wine in 1997. He uses indigenous yeasts for fermentation and all aspects of his winemaking are as natural and as low intervention as possible. Élevage, in barrels used for several fills, ranges from 12 to 24 months depending on the vintage. The wines are not fined or filtered. Jean-Michel Stephan takes every possible step to bring out the freshness and purity of the fruit and a sumptuous and elegant character. Because of the minimal use of sulphur, some of his wines can have a slightly reduced nose but these aromas quickly fade after aeration. Côtes-Rôtie wines from Jean-Michel Stephan are some of the most sought-after within the appellation.