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Jean-Michel Stéphan: VSO

To make things a little more interesting, we also compared JM Stéphan's "V.S.O." 2011 with the "Côteaux de Tupin" and "Côteaux de Bassenon" side by side. This is in fact a true-blue Côte-Rôtie, but unfortunately the somewhat short-sighted French wine authority then rejected the wine as being "atypical" of the appellation, before the meteoric rise of the recent global natural wine phenomenon. To quote the winemaker, he said (on the back label of this wine):

Ce vin n’a pas recu l’agreement de l’INAO, il se retrouve ainsi <<Sans Origine>> !

which translates into "this wine was not in agreement with the INAO, and thus finds itself without any origin!". Well, that's how he eventually named the cuvée - Vins Sans Origines or Wine Without Origins, probably just to spite those committee members who didn't understand what his craft was about.

A blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Viognier, the grapes were harvested from the steep slopes of Tupin-Semons and Ampuis, underwent some light carbonic maceration (just like the other two cuvées), fermented with natural yeast and was aged in a mix of used oak barrels and stainless steel vats for 12 months or so before bottling without any filtration, fining or SO2 added.

If it was a blind tasting flight, this VSO definitely stood out immediately with its really savoury, almost meaty nose of funk, barnyard, leather, game and smoked bacon outlining a huge core of ripe dark fruits (almost boysenberry). The fruit content is fairly intense and broad on the palate with a slight tang, and a underlying natural funkiness that we didn't encounter in the other two wines this round. It did, however, brought to mind another wine of his - Côte-Rôtie Nature that shared more similarities in terms of sensory perceptions. In hindsight, we should have decanted the wine and let it slowly unleash its full potential before drinking. We reckon this needs to be verified some time in the near future, preferably with some nice charcuterie platter, and perhaps an excellent pot of cassoulet and andouillette ?

Monsieur Stéphan did highlight that this is a wine that will fully mature in 5-6 years in a tasting he did back in 2013, and we are really excited to report that the wine's longevity is much much longer than the anticipated lifespan. A vin naturel that will appeal to all natural wine lovers, and also those who prefer a more intense Côte-Rôtie with a twist. 2011 was probably the only vintage the wine was labelled as such, and we're lucky that there are still some bottles left for us to slowly savour them with like-minded friends. The good news is - we will be releasing a few of these babies for sale to our followers so if you're keen, please drop us a text ASAP.

Perhaps we should rekindle our thematic tasting flights with some of these gems and other Côte-Rôties...

What say you?


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