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Seriously Silky Syrah from a Northern Rhône Cult Hero, JM Stephan

Stylized image of JM Stephan Syrah bottle

Jean Michel Stephan comes from a long line of Northern Rhône farmers, who grew everything from apricots to vegetables to wine grapes. They’ve been in the region for so long that some of their best terroir was given to the family as a sort of two-for-one deal: buy enough valley flatland, to grow wheat or fruit, and we’ll give you a few acres of steep vineyard land that no one else wants. This land today, of course, would be considered invaluable.

Over the decades, his Côte-Rôties have gained a kind of cult following, especially in the natural wine scene. But today’s wine comes from newer acquisitions — Jean Michel and his son Romain were able to purchase 5 hectares outside of Côte-Rôtie, where they planted traditional N. Rhône grapes.

But in today’s Syrah, the influence of Jean Michel’s formative years in Beaujolais are starkly evident. Under the tutelage of Jean-Paul Brun, he learned about organic farming, hands-off winemaking, and traditional Beaujolais methods of vinification. We get all of the intensity of Syrah, with its wild flavors of herbs, olives, spices and cured meat, tempered by a silky texture and delicate fruit flavors.

At the wine fairs Jean Michel often attended, he found his attention drawn to winemakers like Marcel Lapierre and Philippe & Michèle Aubèry of Domaine Gramenon, who were passionate about natural wines made without any additives. Inspired by these titans, his VdF wines, made on those 5 hectares outside of Côte-Rôtie, are vinified sans soufre. Here, we find all of Syrah’s rugged appeal, without a drop of makeup, and at a very special price:

Jean-Michel Stephan, VdF Syrah, 2022 $31.99


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