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Alain Jaume Rasteau Les Valats 2015
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
In 2003, a new estate of 50 acres was acquired : the "Clos de Sixte" Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée Lirac. This appellation located a few kilometres from Châteauneuf du Pape (in front of it when you cross the Rhone river), is one of the fifteen Crus of the Rhône Valley. However, the soils are unique and they look like the plateaux of Châteauneuf du Pape with sandy-clay earth and the famous rocks that cover the soil. For many years, Lirac had less reputation than Châteauneuf du Pape, but it is potentially the coming "Outsider" of the Rhone Valley.
Over the years, the family has grown, too. Today, Sébastien and Christophe are gradually taking charge of the management of the estate. Sharing the family know-how, they have to put to maximum advantage their knowledge in wine-growing and wine-tasting.
A highly successful southern Rhone village promoted to Cotes du Rhone Villages status because of its intense and heady red wines, Rasteau is also recognized for its fortified wine, Vin Doux Naturel. Grenache is responsible for both styles. Rasteau also produces refreshing white and rosé table wines.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.