Always slightly apprehensive about trying out a new vintage after arrival regardless of how many times we have tasted it already prior to shipment. Rarely disappointed with any wine from Jonathan Maltus though (unlike some holiday purchases) and certainly not this time. The 2003 was one such example though: the wine was initially quite full on as you would expect from the heatwave vintage but it fell apart soon after becoming extremely disjointed. Fortunately we were still holding plenty of the 2002 so had time to wait it out which, Jonathan assured us, was all that was necessary. He was right and now the 2003 is very good. But the 2004 is a better wine with more natural balance and more classic fruit and none of the green-ness that I found in the 2003 a year ago from under-ripe tannins. This wine is not going to blow you away but it isn't meant to. Instead it will quietly impress with its lovely ripe fruit and soft tannins and understated elegance. It's good to see that Bordeaux is increasingly able to deliver wines of this calibre at this price point.
Simple labels adorn the bottles of these highly effective and enjoyable wines which have a distinct nod to the northern Rhône and even Burgundy and Bandol despite their southern Rhône setting. Described by Robert Parker as ‘one of the best estates in the entire Rhône Valley’, Domaine Ste-Anne has been in the Steinmaier family since 1965 when it was bought as a holiday home for this Burgundian family. Guy Steinmaier quickly recognised the potential of the 12 hectares of vines and set about replanting them. Now under the stewardship of his son Jean, who studied winemaking in Beaune before taking over in 1977, they have remained consistent throughout making remarkably un-Parkerised wines (that is to say, these are elegant and refined rather than the blockbusters generally regarded by the former uber-critic). A quarter of a century since Parker wrote those words, Domaine Ste-Anne remains synonymous with the Côtes du Rhône Village of St-Gervais. Today the range is much the same as it was