Jean Baptiste Souillard Crozes-Hermitage 2016

France, Rhone Valley
#Red  #Shiraz / Syrah  #France  #Rhone Valley  #Northern Rhone  


"After winemaking in Australia, New Zealand and Burgundy — where he struck up an ongoing friendship with Ben Leroux at Comte Armand, Jean-Baptiste Souillard worked as an oenologue for Jean-Luc Colombo before starting his own micro-négoce in 2014. Working out of his parents tiny, medieval cellar in the Ardèche hills above Andance,

Souillard makes 15 cuvées, each in tiny batches.The focus for the reds is to source from untapped, old vine sites on the region’s left bank ‘têtes de coteaux’, on the top of the hills. In this endeavour, he has the advantage of his five years as an oenologist in the Northern Rhône, and the contacts that came with it.

In Crozes, for example, Souillard has specifically sought out excellent hillside parcels on granite in the late ripening northern communes. In short, he’s looking for pure fruit, but with intensity, structure and bunchy grip and, importantly, freshness.

For JBS, freshness and digestibility are King. Mirroring the cellar, the winemaking is basic as. Natural ferments, with plenty of whole bunches, neutral oak (old barrique) and delicate extractions are the order of the day. Tasting through the 2016s —deliciously savoury, bunchy wines of complex fragrance and subtleness — it’s clear the Northern Rhône has an outstanding new talent in its midst (and he’s only getting started.

Like Hermitage, the northern Crozes village of Gervans is a severed fragment of the Ardèche granite uplands that today find themselves on the opposite side of the Rhône. Souillard only has two barrels of the village Crozes, a blend of two parcels in Gervans: one on granite soils high up the slope and the second from alluvial soils closer to the river. The ferment is almost entirely whole-bunch in stainless steel before élevage for 14 months in old barrique (a minimum of three years and up to ten years old). The style hinges on structure and tension, quite removed from the softer, plusher style of Crozes found further south."