I have brought back by popular demand this lovely southern Rhône wine as it is a real 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.
This is a lovely perfumed wine; on the nose, hints of chocolate, liquorice with 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 and soft for such a complex medium-bodied wine which brings a certain elegance. There is a long, complex finish; this is a superb Rhône wine.
Previous vintages have needed food but this could be enjoyed on its own. Or drink it 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
"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."
91 Points robertparker.com Nov 2017
"A blend of 80% Grenache (matured in concrete) and 20% Syrah (matured in oak), the 2015 Rasteau la Ponce delivers creamy-textured blackberry fruit with hints of cola and allspice. It's medium to full-bodied with a lingering, spicy finish and should drink well for another 4-5 years.
The talented Gilles Ferran runs this estate, founded by his grandfather in 1953. The winery address is in Rasteau, the vineyards are scattered across several villages and the best route to the domain is via Roaix, but the confusion and effort is worth it as the building boasts sweeping views over the nearby vineyards... Speaking of the 2015s, Ferran said, "For me, the early harvests are always the best. It reminds me a lot of 2007. We have the altitude, so we keep the natural acidity." Going on, he said, "We don't want to be the most powerful — it's not my terroir. My terroir is elegance, fruit and freshness."
16 Points Jancis Robinson MW Oct 2016
"80% Grenache, 20% Syrah. The Grenache is in concrete tank for a year and the Syrah in oak barrel for a year. Tank sample.
Tasted blind. Blackish crimson. Rather oxidised sample but with lots of suave fruit underneath. Drawing-room Rasteau rather than the rustic sort! Maybe another sample would be even more impressive… Lots of punch. I suspect I am under-scoring this wine."