This month the French Winophiles are shining the light on Rasteau wines from the Southern Rhône in France. Rasteau produces dry red, white, rosé, and sweet wines. 96% of the wines produced are red wines, and 4% are Vin Doux Naturels (sweet) red, white, and rosé. I received four samples of dry red wines from Rasteau AOC. These red, full-bodied wines must include a blend of 50% Grenache minimum and 20% Syrah and Mourvèdre. I found these wines to have a natural pairing affinity to the flavors of foods from Provence.
Fast Facts on Rasteau AOC
- Rasteau is the name of a village and wine region. Located in Haut-Vaucluse, 21 miles from Avignon, and 12.5 from Orange.
- 75% of the vineyards are on hillsides with altitudes ranging from 500 to 1000 feet.
- The vineyards mostly face south, giving some protection from the Mistral winds.
- Rasteau dry red wines were elevated from Côte du Rhône Villages to Crus des Côtes du Rhône AOC designation – Rasteau AOC – in 2010.
- The climate is Mediterranean, with lots of sunlight hours (2800 hours annually) and low rainfall (30 inches annually).
- Three major soil types; 394-25 feet: terraces of pebble-rich soils, 525-951 feet: sandy marl, 951-1050 feet: red and grey marl with rounded pebbles (pudding stones) that store heat by day and release it back to the vines at night.
- Grenache is the main grape variety, adding finesse, body, and roundness, followed by Syrah for intense color, structure, acidity, and aromatics, and Mourvèdre contributing structure, tannins, and balance to a blend.
My Tasting Notes
Disclosure: The wines were provided to me as media samples. All opinions are my own.
2016 Famille Perrin L’Andéol, Rasteau AOC
13.5% abv | $24.00 SRP (sample) | Grenache and Syrah
Famille Perrin has been in the wine industry since 1909 when Pierre Traminer purchased Château de Beaucastel. Today the winery is overseen by the fifth generation, Jean-Pierre and Francois Perrin. The 5 acres of Rasteau vineyards are south-facing terraces. The grapes were hand-harvested, sorted, and de-stemmed. Fermentation was 90% temperature-controlled stainless steel vats and 10% foudres. The wine rested for six months before being bottled.
Medium ruby in color. Medium-bodied and tannins with medium(+) acidity. Notes of kirsch cherries, plum, spices, and garrigue. Tight fine tannins, balanced with good acidity.
2016 Domaine Mikael Boutin M.B., Rasteau AOC
14.5% abv | $20.00 SRP (sample) | 60% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Carignan, 10% Cinsault
Mikael Boutin is a fifth-generation winemaker. Boutin has 5 acres of vines with an average age of 40 years, located across eight parcels of varying exposure and soils. The Rasteau vineyards are organically farmed. The grapes were hand-harvested. Fermentation was spontaneous with wild yeasts, lasting 15-18 days in concrete tanks, with pump-overs once a day. The wine is aged on its lees for eight months in concrete tanks and is unfined. After bottling, the wine is held for 12 months before release to the market.
Deep purple-ruby in color. Full-bodied and medium tannins and acidity. On the palate rich, lush black cherries, plums, leather, garrigue, earthy, with a black pepper finish.
2016 Domaine La Font de Notre Dame Le Chêne, Rasteau AOC
14.5% abv | $18.00 SRP (sample) | 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah, 5% Cinsault
Domaine La Font de Notre Dame is an old family estate run by two brothers, Frédéric and Boris Roux. The brothers took over the property in 2016 after working for 30 years under their father and founded La Font de Notre Dame. The Domaine has 32 acres of 80-year old vines in Rasteau, on plots of clay soils with an abundance of heat-retaining pebbles. The grapes are hand- harvested. Maceration is long with pump-overs to extract silky tannins and a deep purple color. The wine is aged in vats, with about 25% in 3-5 year-old French oak barrels.
Deep purple-ruby in color. Full-bodied with medium tannins, and medium(+) acidity. On the palate a velvety texture of blackberries, black raspberries, and cherries. Smooth tannins with balanced acidity.
2017 Domaine Elodie Balme, Rasteau AOC
15% abv | $25.00 SRP (sample) | 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15 Mourvèdre, 10% Carignan
Elodie Balme is a young female winemaker who studied under Marcel Richaud, a pioneer of biodynamic viticulture in the Southern Rhône. She founded Domaine Elodie Balme when she was 23 years old and produced her first vintage in 2006 from vineyards belonging to her father. Today, she and her father are partners and work the estate. Elodie practices organic farming and is working towards achieving organic certification. The wine was fermented with native yeasts, aging was in 90% concrete vats and 10% in 3-10 year old barrels and demimuids. The wine was lightly filtered before bottling.
Deep purple-ruby in color. Full-bodied with medium tannins and acidity. On the palate, bright, intense, luscious dark fruits, spices, violets, and a hint of smoke on the finish. Long lingering finish.
My Food Pairings
I paired these wines with flavors from Provence; Pasta with tomatoes, rosemary, black cured olives, grilled marinated artichokes, and capers and Lamb Daube with black cured olives, mushrooms, and tomatoes. The full-bodied wines, with lush, velvety fruit, medium tannins, and acidity, call for a dish with bold, intense flavors to match it. All of these wine worked well with the dishes; however, my favorite was the Domaine La Font de Notre Dame Le Chêne. This wine was perfectly balanced with noticeably more acidity, good body, and structure to pair with the bold-flavored pasta and the rich, savory lamb daube.
- 1 lb. pasta, I used Seggiano Toscani Organic pasta
- Kosher salt
- 1 28 oz. can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 1/2 cup cured black olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
- 12 grilled baby artichokes in olive oil, drained and halved
- 1/4 cup capers in vinegar, drained
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 8 oz. Whole-milk Mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
- fresh basil leaves, torn
In a large pot bring 8 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add salt and the pasta. Stir occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook according to the package directions.
In the meantime, in a large sauté pan that will be large enough to hold the cooked pasta, combine the canned tomatoes, rosemary, olives, artichokes, capers, and fennel seeds. Simmer while the pasta cooks.
When the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta with a colander. Transfer the pasta to the sauté pan with sauce. Toss to mix. Let stand for a few minutes for pasta to absorb the sauce.
Serve in flat shallow bowls and garnish with basil and mozzarella.
Prepare this dish a day ahead and refrigerate. The flavors will develop and you can skim off the fat before reheating.
- 4 lbs. boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 3-oz. pieces, at room temperature
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bottles dry white wine, such as a lightly oaked Chardonnay
- several sprigs fresh oregano, rosemary, and thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes in their juice
- 1 lb. fresh mushroom, de-stemmed and cut lengthwise in thick slices
- 1/2 cup cured black olives, pitted and cut in half
- fresh herbs for garnish such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, and oregano, chopped
- cooked farro for serving
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
In a large dutch oven , heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Reduce the heat to medium and add several pieces of lamb, without crowding, sear on all sides about 5 minutes. Do this in batches to assure a good sear and browning. Remove each batch with a tong to a platter and season generously with salt and pepper.
Return the lamb to the pot and add wine, herbs, bay leaves, tomatoes, mushrooms, and olives. Cover the pot and braise at a gentle simmer over low heat for about 1-1-1/2 hours. The meat should be very tender, if not continue to braise, but not too long that the meat is oversaturated and watery.
Serve in shallow bowls with farro and garnished with herbs.
For more great articles on Southern Rhône Rasteau wines, check out my fellow French Winophiles posts. And join us in out Twitter chat Saturday, November 16th at 11:00 AM ET using the hashtag #winophiles to follow and join the conversation.
- Cathie from Side Hustle Wino “Getting to Know the Wines of Rasteau”
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Cam shares “A Birthday Tradition + Side-by-Side Sips of Domaine de Verquière Rasteau”
- David from Cooking Chat Food writes about “Chicken Lentil Stew and Rhône Wine from Rasteau”
- Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen tells us how to “Become a Rasteau—farian”
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator says “Go Grenache, Go Rasteau”
- Jane from Always Ravenous writes about “Flavors of Provence Paired with Rhône Rasteau Wines”
- Jeff from Food Wine Click explains “Rasteau and the Côtes du Rhône Quality Pyramid”
- Kat from The Corkscrew Concierge explains how she is “Expanding My Rhône Valley Palate with Rasteau Wine”
- Linda from My Full Wine Glass writes about “Basking in the Glow of Rasteau”
- Liz from What’s in That Bottle says, “You Like Big Reds? Get to Know the Wines of Rasteau”
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest writes about “Rhone Valley Rasteau Cru – A New Generation Wine with Duck Confit”
- Martin from Enofylz writes about “Getting To Know Rasteau”
- Nicole from Somm’s Table shares “Five Nights of Rasteau”
- Payal from Keep the Peas writes about “Rasteau: Not So Rustic in the Southern Rhone”
- Pinny from Chinese Food & Wine Pairings writes about “One Rabbit, Two Turkey Drumsticks and Four Rasteau Wines”
- Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles writes about “Fall, Thanksgiving and the Flavors of Rasteau”
- Rupal from Syrah Queen writes, “Rasteau – Exploring The Gems of Southern Rhone”
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “A German-Style Shepherds Pie with French Rasteau”