Rasteau AOC celebrates 10 years of Cru Status

Bottle of Rasteau

Are you ready for a perfect wintery red?

Last month Rasteau appellation celebrated 10 years of being recognized as a Cru (translates to “growth” in French and is used for a region with a specific terroir and quality) of Côtes du Rhône.

You may have heard about Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC or perhaps even Gigondas AOC but what about RASTEAU AOC?

Let’s break down what you should expect from the Southern Rhône appellation’s first.

They are very different from the Northern Rhone due to being further south and receiving far more sunshine. Being part of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur it is officially the sunniest region with an average of 2,725 hours. It is also much flatter compared to the very hilly north. You will find lots of stony soils here, which reflect the immense sunshine, giving the grapes an abundance of heat to ripen fully. Therefore, the sun worshipping grape variety Grenache takes centre stage, with Syrah and Mourvèdre closely behind and blended in different quantities. If you ever hear someone talking about a GSM blend, you will now know what grapes they are talking about.

There is a fantastic range of every day drinking wines up to some of the very best wines that France can offer. It does tend to be focused on red wines, but you can get white, rosé and even Vin Doux Naturel (VDN’s), which is a fortified sweet wine with the sweetness coming naturally from the grapes. 95% of the generic appellation Côtes du Rhône comes from the Southern Rhone but can technically also come from the north too. Above this level you may see Côtes du Rhône Villages, and from this selection of villages there are 18 that are good enough to put their name on the label. Above this, you have the Crus, and this is where Rasteau comes out to play.

Rasteau appellation vineyards
© Christophe Grilhé

Essential facts about Rasteau AOC:

  • Dating back to 1944, Rasteau was very well recognized for its Vin Doux Naturel fortified wines. In fact, these wines were recognized with their own AOC. It is only in 2010 that the red wines have been recognized for their quality.
  • Rasteau is one of the most northern Crus, with neighbouring Cairanne directly to it’s left and further down south, it’s nearest neighbour is Gigondas. Its 15 miles northeast from the most famous Cru Chateauneuf du Pape.
  • 935 hectares of vines are planted in Rasteau.
  • Rasteau is known to be the hottest village in the Southern Rhône, with a Mediterranean climate.
  • It is located on the summit of a hill at 200 metres above sea levels with the majority of vineyards planted with south facing slopes taking more of that intense Provençal sunshine.
  • The grapes are found growing on stone covered clay-limestone terraces but with very varied soils.
  • The average yield of Rasteau Reds are only 30hl/ha – so they have the ability to produce very high quality wines. The lower the yields, the more concentrate the grapes.
  • You will find the grapes typical of the Southern Rhône: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre growing in this appellation. A minimum of 50% of Grenache must be used (this gives the roundness, body, red raspberries and white pepper) and never more that 20% of Syrah (this can add aromatics, body and acidity) and 20% of Mourvèdre (this can add earthiness, dark fruits and some more structure)
rasteau vineyards
© Christophe Grilhé

To celebrate Rasteau’s 10 years of Cru status I was sent two very delicious wines. Both are 15% but that’s normal down in the south of France where the grapes ripen fully. They are picked when they have high sugar, which, when fully fermented to create a dry wine, means much higher levels of alcohol. Rasteau wines are dancing with black fruits, violets and sweet spices. They certainly have a Christmas fruit cake vibe going on, and a great full-bodied wine to plonk yourself in front of a cozy crackling fire.

Domaine La Colliere ‘Espirit d’Argiles’ Rasteau 2017 (around £18)

90% GRENACHE, 10% SYRAH

The nose is full of red Cherry and kitsch with smoke and Christmas spices evolving with a little more time with air, and an inviting and sweet touch of marzipan.

The wine is full bodied but fresh with concentrated crushed berries. It’s fruit driven with a chalky minerality a vibrant spicy finish and medium grippy tannins.

Chateau du Trignon 2017 Rasteau with venison

Chateau du Trignon Rasteau 2016 (around £18)

GRENACHE, MOURVЀDRE

The nose is intense with redcurrants and cranberries with a hint of bacon and an earthy note such as beetroot, wet earth. There are blackberries lingering in the background.

The wine is full bodied, meaty and juicy with red plums and red berries combined with earthy and chewy medium tannins and a fresh acidity.

Rasteau food pairings ideas

The juiciness of both and warming alcohol are apparent. They are very solid winter wines. The earthier TRIGNON paired perfectly with the Venison and mushrooms we had for dinner.

Playing around with the marzipan stollen and dark chocolate with winter fruits and cinnamon, the slightly sweeter fruit  LA COLLIERE went nicely.

With Baby blue fromage and Camembert they were both equal winners – It has certainly been fun playing around with these very food friendly wines.

Why not grab yourself a bottle of Rasteau and see what food pairings work for you? An easily accessible bottle for those of you in the UK, from a very reliable producer, Rasteau ‘L’Andéol’ 2017 Famile Perrin, can be found at Majestic for £14.99.

Why not pair it with Barbequed and grilled meats, Provencal Pasta with Tomatoes, herbs and olives, lamb with thyme, or a beef stew. And of course, you already know it pairs well with blue cheese and dark chocolate.

Enjoy!

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