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Wednesday, November 24


Rasteau is basically a hill, with vineyards growing all over and around it. Most of the wine here is produced by the Caveau de Rasteau, which has an excellent relationship with Ivonne's wine shop, and we were received like visiting royalty. Young Laurence, the young local girl responsible for their export business, took us on a tour of the vineyards, and we felt the full force of the Mistral winds up on the pass which led to their oldest vines. Laurence dismissed it as an average windy day, and assured us the previous week had been much worse, but we could hardly hear her for the wind and our teeth chatterring in the lee of the car! I can't imagine what it would have been like if we hadn't changed first... In any case, we were joined by Laurent, who represents them in the US and will be at Gary's next tuesday, and he took us to their oldest Grenache vines, one hundred years old just beneath the hill's crown, planted in "gallet roulé" the thick layer of round stones left by the last ice age, which traps heat, and regulates the water reserves for the vines and is a major part of the local terroirs. We got to taste a grape from these vines, as some were still to be found. It was a memorable experience. The grape was dense, making me think more of a fig than a grape, very sweet and not juicy at all. It was incredibly fruity. We then retreated to their professional tasting room, all clean white tile and a lovely view on the vineyards, and tasted all their wines, most of which Ivonne knew earlier vintages of, as she sells them at Gary's. I'd never heard of Rasteau, and was pleasantly suprised by both whites and reds. Very good value for the money, with strong chocolatey notes even in the younger wines. I'll be looking for the name when I'm shopping for wine for every day. We closed the day of tastings on a red "vin doux" or sweet wine, made like a Port or a Banyuls, that is with very sweet grapes and by stopping the fermentation while there is still significant sugar left (about half-way) by adding alcohol, distilled from wine. Contrary to Banyuls, however, the wine still tastes like a red wine, and there is much less cloying sweetness. Begs for a chocolate mousse, if you ask me :D Location : Rasteau, France

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