Jean-Michel Stephan - 2020 - Les Binardes
90% Syrah, 10% Viognier
Côte-Rôtie, Rhone, France
As a teenager, Jean-Michel left home to work in the vineyards for a certain M. Brun in the Beaujolais, where he discovered a passion for vineyards and winemaking, as well as a friendship with the young Jean-Paul Brun. In 1986, Jean-Michel decided to plant his own vineyards and produced his first harvest in 1991. For the first few years, he sold the grapes off to Guigal, then eventually produced his first wine in 1994. The following year, he began certified organic farming, though the vineyards had been farmed as such since the beginning. Soon after, he was invited by his Belgian importer to pour wines at a salon held at the famous Cantillon Brewery, where he met other natural wine pioneers like Marcel Lapierre and Philippe & Michèle Aubèry of Domaine Gramenon for the first time. He learned that there were other people searching for a way to produce natural wine without any additives, and was inspired to continue his work to craft these wines in Côte-Rôtie, while integrating into a movement of like-minded producers. It took him many years (and several wrong turns) to perfect his risky sans sulfites (no added SO2) style, but a taste of any of his bottles promises to convert any lover of Syrah or Northern Rhône wines. In 2017, his son Romain joined the domaine, and together, they planted an additional five hectares outside the Côte-Rôtie appellation in the nearby towns of Roussillon, Verin, Condrieu, Ampuis, and Chasse-sur-Rhône.
Les Binardes comes from the vines Jean-Michel planted between 1994 and 1997 in the lower part of the Coteaux de Tupin and is an explosive and emblematic Côte-Rôtie. As is traditional in the area, a bit of Viognier is co-fermented with the Syrah, for a total of 10% in this wine. The wine is then aged for one year in stainless steel. This is the cuvée of Côte-Rôtie that is most ready to drink early on. Carbonic or semi-carbonic fermentation with native yeasts and no added SO2.