A.O.C. In The Southern Rhone
When most wine consumers think of the Southern Rhone of France, they think of Cotes Du Rhone, Chateauneuf Du Pape, Gigondas and Vacqueyras. How often do you think about Rasteau?? The Rasteau appellation covers mostly the commune of Rasteau, but also includes some vineyards in Cairanne and Sablet. 47 hectares (120 acres) of vineyards are used for the fortified wines, with an annual production of around 190,000 bottles. For many years this area was known for VDN’s or Vin Doux Naturel. Basically similar to a Port, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala this is a deliciously, sweet, elegant and fortified wine. In 2010 dry red wines (unfortified) were also added to the appellation, effective from the 2009 vintage. It’s a unique terroir with lots of beige stones and little pebbles and old vines. I was lucky enough to sample a bottle for review from a great producer from Sablet.
2016 Domaine Verquiere Rasteau
A Family Affair. Situated in Sablet in the Rhone Valley, the DOMAINE DE VERQUIERE Winery is a 45-hectare estate that has been passed down from father to son over four generations. Today the Winery is managed by Thibaut CHAMFORT (Picured Above) who is perpetuating and developing the family vineyard according to age-old traditions. Thanks to his experience built up both in France and abroad (California and South Africa) Thibaut intends to make the most of his legacy by ensuring continued improvement of the quality of the wines and placing the name ‘Domaine de Verquiere’ firmly on the map of the very best Rhone Valley wines.
As I mentioned above, Rasteau is a blend of 2 types of Terroirs. Beige marls and abundant pebbles in the higher plots of Rasteau and Clay-chalk mixed with gravel from the plains. 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah. 100% Organic! The grapes are picked and sorted by hand. The Syrah harvest is vinified separately. The entire harvest is fully destemmed. The grapes are pre-fermented at a cold temperature for 24 hours. Fermentation takes place at controlled temperature by heat exchanger at 26-28°C. The rack-and-return process is performed 2 or 3 times during vinification. The traditional vatting procedure lasts between 25 and 30 days. The wine is then aged in oak barrels for 4 months. Let’s drink up and Review
Deep garnet color with some darkness in the center as usual from the black skinned Syrah. Aromas of different berries such as Mullberry, Sloeberry, Lavender and hints of Earth. On the palate a very creamy texture and intense fruit forward , sleek style with strong notes of Licorice, Savory Herbs, finishing with a long lasting spicy finish with a lot of finesse. I love the mouthfeel and I get a strong sense of this terroir from this wine. Even though it is a youthful and fruit forward style it never loses it’s focus of where it came from. I will score this wine 91 out of 100 points.
Yes an average Cotes Du Rhone of high quality can probably be found for a few dollars less than this wine from Rasteau. I however look at it as the intensity of a Gigondas but for the price of $15.99 well worth it. This is becoming the favorite wine of one of my assistant wine consultants, Lizbeth. to recommend to our guests. Liz is the one that recommended it to me (SEE EVEN WE TAKE RECOMMENDATIONS FROM OTHERS …PEOPLE). I spoke with her and told her she was spot on. There is just something really special going on here in the glass that can’t stop me wanting to buy another bottle. Bring on the Lamb Chops!!!
Grape-fully yours, Larry
Beautiful Rasteau Fellow Rhone Rangers