Updated: Jul 28, 2021
For those who love Syrah-Viognier, Côte-Rôtie in the Northern Rhône Valley of France is its traditional home. No more than 20% of Viognier is allowed in the official blend but most winemakers will typically only use 5-10% during co-fermentation with Syrah to produce wines which are usually deeper and brighter in colour, slightly stronger in tannins and almost always with lifted, aromatic characters. Organic Côte-Rôtie is NOT very common really, much less the authentic, natural, SO2-free ones. The labour required to work on these rather steep slopes and precarious terrain is back-breaking, to say the least. And this is what made Jean-Michel Stephan's wines quite exceptional, even rare in our current marketplace. Whilst Monsieur Stephan's wines may not please every palate, especially those who are used to the more robust, glossy, fruit forward juices, there is freshness and clarity in all of his wines, usually with a light touch of funk and earthiness that will appeal to those who cherish unadulterated, pure, honest wines.
We decanted a bottle of his 2015 Côte-Rôtie over the weekend with some wine kakis and the wine showed a deep purple-red core colour with an initial nose of funk, game and earth upon opening. With some aeration, a more floral, perfumed, almost heady nose with ripe red fruits mingled with macerated cherries surfaced. On the palate, the wine was all about ripe dark fruits, plums, mocha, dried black olives and perhaps a little savoury with ripe, plush tannins.
A Syrah-Viognier (9:1) blend made with fully-destemmed grape berries, which are primarily grown on the slopes of Côte Blonde. Light, semi-carbonic maceration was employed, before the wine was raised in stainless steel vats using natural yeasts, and then aged quietly in the cellar for 24 months in used, neutral oak barriques (barrels). We generally won't recommend drinking this on its own, but we did drain the bottle on a Sunday afternoon without any food. Hahaha! Otherwise, we would highly suggest you pair this with some roast leg of lamb, chargrilled Tomahawk steak, or Canto-style braised beef brisket & tendon with hor fun for our current wet, rainy weather in Singapore!