The outspoken Michel Chapoutier is a maverick and an icon in the Rhone valley. He has led the way on biodynamics, is obsessive about proper grape maturity and is as rigorous in the vineyard as they come. Whilst his opinions and straight talking might not always be everybody’s cup of tea, it is rare to hear anything but admiration from his fellow vignerons and winemakers for his dedication, the quality of his wines and the huge impact he has had on the positive image of the Rhone valley. With some wonderful old vines across the varying terroirs of the Hermitage Hill at his disposal, Michel crafts some of the most sought-after Rhone wines in the world. The style is ripe, concentrated and the although the wines have a modern sheen to them, they certainly easch display individuality and terroir characteristics.
A Northern Rhône appellation that produces red wines from the Syrah grape and white wines that can be a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne. Potentially some very good quality wines can be produced on the steep east-facing granite slopes, however the vineyard area was expanded in the 70s and 80s to the less suitable land on the plateau too so the appellation is now a large one and quality can be variable. The vineyard area stretches a long way from Condrieu in the North to near Valence in the south spanning over 900 ha. Tournon, Mauves and St-Jean-de-Muzols are some of the main towns around which the original terraced vineyards of St Joseph were and still are planted. St Joseph Red and white lacks the weight and ripeness of a Hermitage or the complexity of a Côte Rôtie. The average wine is designed for early drinking over 2-3 years after the vintage, being soft and supple in its youth, perhaps less round and smooth than a Crozes-Hermitage but with more acidity. However there are a number of very good producers in the region now that make reds to be drunk 4 - 8 years after the vintage, the best can reach heights very rarely achieved by Crozes-Hermitage and make for excellent value. The whites can be very good too, full-bodied and floral, often with low acidity, so they are usually best drunk within three years of the vintage. Some of the most highly regarded examples of St Joseph come from, Andre Perret, Francois Villard, Pierre Gaillard, Jean-Louis Chave, Coursodon and Gonon.