2020 Jean-Baptiste Souillard, St. Péray, Chalaboud, Northern Rhone, France
Wine • Red

2020 Jean-Baptiste Souillard, St. Péray, Chalaboud, Northern Rhone, France

We come together around the idea of saying “yes”: A small word that contains everything.

Jean-Baptiste Souillard makes single parcel wines in the Northern Rhône. He grew up walking through vineyards with his father who is also a winemaker and knew from a very young age that he would make wine, too. He studied oenology and interned with Château Latour in Bordeaux and Comte Armand in Burgundy where he worked alongside Benjamin Leroux. In Burgundy it began to sadden him that such attention was put to single vineyard sites there but that that approach was rarely followed in the Northern Rhône. He resolved to make single-parcel vins de garde from his home region and began a micro-negociant where he says “I generally follow the ‘Cistercian method.’ One parcel = one wine.” His grapes are usually sourced from têtes de coteaux or the tops of hills and he seeks out sites with granite soils. His cuvées are very terroir transparent. “All are nursed with empathy”, he says. “I desire them to have finesse. But they will decide.” 

2020 Jean-Baptiste Souillard, St. Péray, Chalaboud, Northern Rhône, France is made from marsanne. Jean-Baptiste’s approach to making his whites is to pick just before they over-ripen. He crushes the grapes in small vertical presses to allow some of the bitterness and tannin from the seeds and skins to enter the wines. “We’re in a region that is not supposed to make great age-worthy whites, not like Burgundy or Alsace. We have less acidity, less support. But we have varieties that are a little tannic, a little bitter. So instead of acidifying, that’s the support I want to look to: la voie des amers [the ‘bitter’ road].” This wine is incredibly fresh with a floral quality to it rather than the rich-honeyed quality often typical of Northern Rhône whites. The wine features a lovely fabric of nectarine, kumquaat, toast, dried flowers, and an espresso finish. I often find whites from the Northern Rhône to have an austere beauty and this wine fits in that realm. It takes a small bit of work and thought to apprehend, but that work makes it all the more worth it!

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