Jean-Michel Stephan is different! He tends his vines within sight of the iconic Guigal and Chapoutier advertising signs that dominate the steep slopes of the Côte Rôtie in the northern Rhone.
However, unlike the norm for this region of high alcohol, heavily new-oaked wines, Jean-Michel opts for lower alcohol and no new wood for his wines.
Another fact that marks him as different is his love for the grape variety Sérine. This is a variant of Syrah that has smaller grapes and looser bunches. It is also more prone to disease as a variety than Syrah. However, we think that the flavour of the wine made from Sérine is superior to that of Syrah.
His vineyards are on the Coteaux de Tupin and the prized Coteaux de Bassenon as well as a new plot on the plains of Condrieu right next to the Rhone. They are managed using biodynamic principles and the wines are fermented in large cylindrical steel vats.
The vineyards are so steep that only 25% can be worked with a horse, the rest has to be tended manually. We can attest to the steepness as our aging bodies found it hard to keep up with Jean-Michel as he bounded up the slopes like a mountain goat!