The word is out: Stephane Rousset is a north Rhone rising star. His winegrowing philosophy is a model of simplicity, producing some of the finest wines in Crozes-Hermitage and beyond, reminiscent of the best the region has to offer. But his value quotient represents a QPR that’s off the charts for some seriously old vines.
This wine is excellent today but will improve over the next 10 to 15 years.
Stephane’s uncle was the legendary Rhone winegrower Raymond Roure. It was from him that Stephane acquired half – one hectare – of the ‘Picaudieres’ vineyard in 1995. The other half was purchased by Paul Jaboulet, a large producer who thought enough of Roure to buy exclusive rights to have his name put on their Crozes-Hermitage so he could charge twice as much. This vineyard’s steep, terraced, south facing slope with its granite soils and 90-year-old vines, is similar to what you would find in Hermitage, which is right next-door.
Winemaking is traditional: whole clusters grown without chemical are fermented with wild yeasts and aged in oak, five percent new, with natural malolactic in barrel and just a tiny addition of sulphur when bottled.
Crozes-Hermitage is the largest AOC in the Northern Rhone. Ninety percent are red wines made from Syrah. The remaining are Crozes-Hermitage blanc made from Roussanne and Marsanne. These two white grapes are also used to a small extent to make many of the reds.