This was Wines With Attitude's first still wine from the Rhône area of France, in this instance the Southern Rhône and it is a beauty. 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. 80 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 full-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.
This is a lovely perfumed wine; on the nose, chocolate, liquorice, warm spices, blackberry and a hint of blackcurrant. On tasting you will find the ripe sweet fruits - blackberry, blueberries and strawberries - and Rhône-typical herby character are more dominant. Tannins are muted for such a rich full-bodied wine which brings a certain elegance. It is a little punchy; Grenache is naturally high in alcohol so take the 15% ABV into consideration when drinking though this will tone down as the wine develops.
With a relatively high ABV, this wine needs food; drink with chicken, turkey, red meats (grilled, roasted or barbecued), game etc. Avoid serving it with very spicy foods as that could clash with its own spicy characteristics
89 Points Robert Parker Dec 2013
"The only 2011 presented, 2011 Rasteau La Ponce is rock-solid value that delivers classic Rasteau character. A blend of mostly Grenache and a smaller part of Syrah, it offers smoke-tinged currant-style fruit, licorice and spice-cabinet as well as a medium-bodied, fruit-loaded and beautifully textured profile on the palate. Upfront and already delicious, it's not something I'd hide in the cellar (although a recent bottle of 2006 was still young and vibrant) and should be enjoyed over the coming 4-5 years.
One of my favorite producers, Domaine des Escaravailles covers 160 acres and is run by the talented proprietor Gilles Ferran, with consulting advice from Philippe Cambie. The wines are always well-made, have ample fruit and texture, and can represent incredible value in most vintages."