St-Joseph’s movers and shakers (part 1)


Photograph: Jason Lowe

Photograph: Jason Lowe

Exciting, great-value wines are coming out of St Joseph, thanks to the vision and the talent of a number of producers. Here, Eva Polaki highlights five vintners who are making the world sit up and take notice of the appellation’s wines.

A big success story in St-Joseph is written by Jérôme Coursodon the fifth generation of this small 15-hectare domain which began producing wines in the 19th century. The majority of its vineyards are perfectly located on the steep, granitic hillsides above the village of Mauves, where the well-known Chave family has also been making wines since 1472. Jérôme is now recognised as one of the top-three producers in the region and, stylistically, his wines fruit-driven and have minimal new oak.

On our recent visit, the stars of the 2012 vintage were Coursodon’s two old-vine “Paradis” cuvées: the white an ode to honeysuckle and honey; the red rich and glossy. For an early-drinking, flamboyantly fruity expression of Syrah, look for his 2012 Silice Rouge, which is also one of the best value St-Joseph’s around. 

Domaine Yves Cuilleron is a benchmark Domaine in the region. Here, wines show full-bodied fruit opulence and a striking aromatic seductiveness, all of which is underpinned by well-judged use of new oak. Its St-Joseph Blanc Le Lombard (Marsanne old vines) always represents a remarkable bargain and a text-book expression of the grape.

Aristocratic Rhône producer Chapoutier owns plots of the highest pedigree all over the Rhône – and St-Joseph has not escaped his radar. The Chapoutier vineyards lie on the hill above Tournon, the village across the Rhône river from Tain, and are almost as steep as Hermitage itself. These small plots are responsible for the 60-80-year-old Syrah vines and 60-plus-year-old Marsanne from which the Les Granits Rouge and Blanc are respectively coaxed.

Maison Ferraton has now established itself as one of the appellation’s heavy weights, testing boundaries with its red and white wines from terroir-specific parcels. The 2012 white Les Oliviers is so fragrant and fleshy that it wouldn’t look out of place in Hermitage (and for a fraction of the price)! Its mineral-infused reds from lieux-dits “Paradis” and “St Joseph” are veritable wine-making triumphs for Syrah in 2012.

One of the Rhône’s brightest wine-making talents in this dynamic appellation is Stéphane Ogier. He is the embodiment of the appellation’s aspirations, where youth and wisdom, innovation and tradition, are coming together to create some of the best Syrah wines. His wines are structured, powerful and big: modern-styled, lavishly flavoured, lushly aromatic. His St-Joseph Syrah cuvee comes from a small parcel overlooking his Condrieu holdings, on impossibly steep slopes in Malleval, where the vines blessed with great exposure and ripening potential.

The Rhône 2012 campaign is in full swing on; meanwhile, subscribe to the blog to get more updates and recommendations.