Cave de Rasteau, Vin Doux Naturel Rasteau (Ambre), AOC Rasteau, Vaucluse, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France, 2007
On Rasteau VDNs
There are 11 variants of this VDN, all based on grenache. This variety is bush pruned, and thrives on the south-facing dry hillside terraces, in a Mediterranean climate with hot summers, sheltered somewhat from the cool windy conditions delivered by the northerly Mistral. Soils are pebbly clay-limestone (argilo-calcaire) based, these store heat during the day and re-radiate it at night, which can develop over-ripening (surmaturation).
Rasteau VDNs are created using >= 90% grenache noir, gris or blanc, which may be blended to achieve a particular hue/sensory profile (maceration time can also be involved), the residual is made up of grapes indigenous to the AOC Cotes du Rhone appellation. Over half the production is rouge/grenat (grenache noir only), then rose/ambre (a lighter hued blend), then blanc/dore (grenache blanc only) in a single digit percentage.
This wine: bottle No. 13011, varietal grenache noir, manual harvest at ~25hl/ha; made by the separation of the must from the pulp – essentially a pink base is wine made by the saignee method, then fermentation of this stopped by the addition of high strength neutral spirit; 50% of the blend is aged in barrique for 12 months, coated natural cork closure stained to half length, 15.5% abv, ex producer, €?? (07/12)
Consumer tasting note: a lightly fortified sweet wine from the southern Rhone, based on grenache, with a strong profile of dried orange peel, apricot and fig, wet prune, fruit cake and glace cherry; full-bodied, with a long length of macerated cherry and wet prune.
Drink now – RTD, but will keep – Wait. Serve cool – chill in the fridge, then remove 30 minutes before serving.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, pale intensity orange, showing tears.
Nose: clean, pronounced intensity, fully developed, with aromas as they come, of dried orange peel, touch of dried herbs, dried apricot, dried fig, stewed dessert apple, a varnish-like hint, whiff of glace cherry, hints of old polished wood and crushed walnut.
Palate: sweet, medium (+) acidity, a low-key grip, fortified low, full body, medium (+) intensity, a smooth almost oily texture, with flavours of wet prune, raisin, stewed red cherry, rich fruit cake, glace cherry, hint of sweet seeming old polished wood. A long length with a perfectly clean macerated cherry, edged with wet prune finish.
Quality: very good, perfectly balanced fresh(ish) acidity and high alcohol; a strong intensity throughout with a similar concentration, leading to a long lingering finish; showing a fully developed gently oxidative profile, of moderate-high complexity.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: drink now, unsuited to further ageing, but will keep for 3-5 years – a sound structure and balance, lots of intensity, concentration and length, but showing a pretty much fully developed profile.