The March issue of Decanter has just landed (I will never understand why the March issue has to arrive on 1st February - don't bother trying to explain it to me; I will simply glaze over) with an, as always, excellent article by JLL, this time all about Rasteau, one of my favourite villages (in terms of the wines, at least).
Rasteau's promotion to cru status in 2010 did not surprise me (unlike the promotion of Beaumes-de-Venise a few years earlier) as the wines have become increasingly good in recent years. The chances of this were always good, given that, after Chateauneuf-du-Pape it is the hottest commune in the valley. More important is the rise of a number of high quality estates within the AOC.
I have been working with Robert Charavin, the president of the syndicate and owner of Domaine des Coteaux des Travers, since I started BRW. In the old days, Robert made rustic, classic wines but in recent years, he has taken greater advantage of the position of his vineyards which are earlier ripening to make more luscious wines. His 2009 Prestige is a tour de force and marks the start of Robert's formal conversion to bio, organic viticulture.
Just outside the village is Domaine Bressy-Masson, another estate with long roots. Marie-France Masson took over from her father, Emile Bressy, some years back and is starting to pass the baton on to her son, Paul-Emile (after whom one of the prestige wines is named). The wines here are sometimes described as Burgundian in texture - if this means smooth, rich, unctuous etc than I have to agree. Fully flavoured, they are classic Rhone wines though, made in a modern style. In 2009, their Cotes du Rhone was remarkably impressive and has become one of our most popular wines with those in the know (I can state this now - stocks are almost depleted so the regulars can't get too upset!).
Regular readers of my blog will know that I like to celebrate a good review with a bottle of appropriate wine - but which one of these two estates will it be? Choices, choices!