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I had wanted to add a white Rhône wine to the portfolio when on a visit to the region in September 2017 I found the perfect white Côtes du Rhône - and it was at Domaine des Escaravailles whose red wine from the same Côtes du Rhône sub-region, La Ponce Rasteau, I have stocked for a couple of previous vintages. A warning - do not cycle there as I did as the hill up to the Domaine is long and steep - plus you can't carry much home with you. But the views at the top were well worth it.
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.
The wine is produced from local grapes Roussanne (40%), Marsanne (40%) and the balance, Viognier and yet it reminded me of a fabulous white Burgundy; after tasting it I was told by genial winemaker, Gilles Ferran, that he calls it his Burgundy. Often blended in Northern Rhône white wines, Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage, as well as in Languedoc-Roussillon Roussanne brings acidity and perfume whilst Marsanne gives the wine its body. Viognier adds floral and fruit aromas and flavours.
This wine is great as an aperitif but because of its structure it will match well with a range of foods including richer dishes in creamy sauces. The producer specifically suggests truffle risotto, butternut squash soup, fish in sauce and goats cheese.
"Pale yellow with hints of gold. The nose displays notes of grilled almond, white flowers and honey. In the mouth there is a perfect balance between acidity and roundness."