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I brought back this lovely southern Rhône wine as it is a customer favourite. Considered one of the more successful Côtes du Rhône villages in the region, still red wine from Rasteau stepped up from a Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation to its own Rasteau appellation in 2010. This wine is a typical Rhône blend of Grenache and Syrah or Shiraz, in this instance 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. If you are a fan of good Châteauneuf-du-Pape, you will love this wine.
Escaravailles is the name for beetles in the local dialect, Occitan, hence the beetle on the label and on the cork of this bottle; it is also said to be a nickname for black-robed monks that used to tend the vineyards in days gone by. This small winery, in the same family since 1953, is situated high up in the Rasteau region; its Grenache vines are c. 60 years old and its Syrah vines c. 35 years old. The ageing vines help add to the intensity and complexity of flavours.
Grenache, which must be a minimum 50% of the blend, provides structure and aromatic wines that are generous and fuller-bodied; it grows well in Rasteau with its exposed hillsides and dry, barren land. Syrah contributes intense colour, elegance and notes of black fruits, violet and spices. Read about the Rhône crus and other appellations in my Rhône red wines blogpost.
This is a lovely perfumed wine; on the nose, compared to previous vintages, this seems fruitier blueberry, blackcurrant and blackberry with a hint of floral - violets? - the hints of chocolate and Rhône-typical herbs are more evident on tasting though still hints as it is the fruits that dominate the palate - blackberry, blueberries and strawberries. 2016 was a hot vintage and you can tell from the 'warmth' of the wine and the slightly higher alcohol at 15.5%. But don’t let that put you off as the alcohol is really well balanced with the fruits and fresh acidity. This wine is unexpectedly elegant, the tannins muted and soft. There is a long, complex finish; this is a superb Rhône wine, no wonder it's a customer favourite!
"The flowers of the domaine. Nice red cherries with violet notes. There is an elegant nose of black fruit jam and leather. The wine is full-bodied, structured and pleasant, with a sweetness associated with ripe black fruits with spices."
93+ points RobertParker.com Oct 2018
"My favorite of the scarab beetle wines (that's the translation of Escaravailles) was the 2016 Rasteau la Ponce, a blend of Grenache (aged in concrete) and Syrah (aged in wood). Dried spices, cherries, and blueberries swirl together in outrageous harmony in this full-bodied, creamy-textured beauty that doesn't lack for richness or vibrancy. It should drink well for at least another 5-7 years."
A lovely perfumed wine - black fruits & blueberries with floral hints. On the palate ripe sweet fruits dominate but there is so much going on including hints of chocolate and Rhône-typical herbs. This is a complex medium-bodied wine with a certain elegance.