Domaine Jean-Michel Stephan
"Coteaux de Bassenon" Côte Rôtie 2020
94 pts Vinous (Josh Raynolds)
Saturated magenta. Displays an array of ripe red and blue fruit, floral and exotic spice qualities on the highly perfumed nose, along with suggestions of smoked meat and botanical herbs. Sweet and expansive in the mouth, offering spice-laced blueberry, kirsch and fruitcake flavors that firm up steadily through the back half. Finishes very long and smoky, with well-knit tannins and reverberating blue fruit and floral notes.
For over a decade, Jean-Michel Stephan, a resolutely organic/bio-dynamic domaine, has been developing a full-on cult following of natural wine enthusiasts. But the “natural wine” description shouldn’t imply a not unjustifiable fear of overt funkiness, at least these days. That was not the case back then, when Stephan’s wines were as out there as Côte-Rôtie could get. Today, Stephan produces from 4.5 hectares of vines, plus another five outside the appellation. A large, modern winery was built next door to the original Tupin-et-Semons cellar that came online just in time for the 2021 harvest. I do not doubt that this will help the family further enhance their wines’ already increasingly high quality. Prices have been moving upward rapidly. While Stephan’s wines (made with as little sulfur as possible and often with some carbonic maceration) still lean to the wild side, they are now significantly less feral than they were in the past.