Jean Baptiste Souillard
Jean Baptiste Souillard grew up in Andance, Northern Rhone, where his father was the Director of the major co-operative in the region Cave de Saint-Desirat. His father also kept a small parcel of his own vines where Jean Baptiste would spend much of his childhood. With this childhood it was clear that Jean Baptiste would one day work in wine himself.
Jean Baptiste’s journey to making his own wine took a rather convoluted route. He studied incredibly hard, gaining 6 different diplomas in winemaking and then undertook vintages around France and the rest of the world. In 2009 Jean Baptiste returned to the Rhone to work in a lab in Cornas.
It was during this time in the lab that Jean Baptiste got inspired to start making his own wine. Having worked in Burgundy he had seen first hand how even the most modest of vineyard sites was treated as a ‘single terroir cru’, and how this was not the same in the Rhone. Jean Baptiste felt that single terriors were incredibly undervalued in the Rhone, particularly those of Crozes Hermitage and Saint Joseph and so set out to change this.
Using the family farm as his Domaine, originally purchased by his great-grandfather, Jean Baptiste converted the naturally cool north facing stable into his cave where all the wines are made. The key to the wines that Jean Baptiste produce is that they all totally represent the individual terroir they come from. The varietals are left for 4 seasons to age in old barrel, and the Crus are left for 8 seasons. All the winemaking is the same, the character and identity of the wines come directly from the terroir.
Working as a micro-negociant, Jean Baptiste buys fruit from much smaller growers that would otherwise have to sell to the local co-operative where their, far superior, fruit would be lost. All the growers work Organically, or are in conversion to do so. Similar to winemakers like Nicolas Morin and Andrew & Emma Nielson at Du Grappin, Jean Baptiste is able to pay a higher price for this fruit therefore encouraging the grower to continue to work to his strict principles. In this sense Jean Baptiste is incredibly modern in the way he runs his business, while the wines are deeply rooted in traditionalism. These are not glouglou or light styles – this is Syrah with purpose, with a wonderful freshness as Jean Baptiste seeks to source fruit from vines on granite.
Due to the COVID Pandemic, Jean Baptiste has decided to hold off bottling his 2019s, leaving them in barrel for slightly longer with a view to bottling in Spring 2021.
We have a selection of his 2016-2020 wines available below.