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Jean-Michel Stéphan: Côteaux de Bassenon

Jean-Michel Stephan's Côte-Rôtie "Côteaux de Bassenon" 2008

Drank this lovely drop of "Côteaux de Bassenon" 2008 together with the "Côteaux de Tupin" 2014 recently, and this Côte-Rôtie was a completely different beast. Unlike the Tupin which is made of 100% Sérine, this version also had Syrah and Viognier co-fermented together in its blend. Deep ruby core colours with some light shades of garnet and a clear meniscus, the wine was immediately redolent of dried ginseng roots, eucalyptus and dried herbs upon opening but with just a little aeration, deep, ripe dark cherries, blueberries, incense and sandalwood became quite prominent too.

As this was drunk without food (which we don't recommend you to do), we did find the wine slightly tart but a check on its label showed a mere alcohol level of 12% a.b.v.! Seriously, how many Côte-Rôties have you seen recently that registered anything lower than 13%? Tons of red fruits on the palate with cranberries, red currants and field red berries being the most distinguishable elements. Peppered with warm spices, a distinctive white peppercorn note, aged mandarin peel and a light touch of herbaceousness, some vanilla and oak tones also surfaced as the wine blossomed in our glasses. A bit more mouth-puckering than the Tupin but its tannins were equally ripe and fine. We imagined this would be excellent with some côte de boeuf kissed by wood fire and HK style roast goose. If Tupin was reminiscent of fine Burgundy in terms of its poise and beauty, Bassenon in this case would be more of a traditional Bordeaux claret whose iron fist is tucked in a velvet glove.

A decade can transform a wine completely and provide much pleasure, evident from our various experiences with the wines over the years. The 2008 Bassenon has finally moved into its initial drinking window and will likely get better in the next decade or two. So if you're thinking about buying the new releases of Bassenon, we'd recommend hiding them (if you can find any) in the darkest corner of your cellars with all your classed Growths until the beauty is ready to wake from her slumber. If you must commit infanticide, then at least decant the wine for a few hours in the cellar and get a whole roast lamb to go with it!


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