2009 Domaine des Escaravailles La Ponce Rasteau


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2009 Domaine des Escaravailles La Ponce Rasteau

Cotes du Rhone Villages, Southern Rhone, FRANCE
$24.99 Bottle
  • Cellar Drink Now - 5 years (2011-2016)
  • ABV 15%
  • Closure: Cork

For Rhone enthusiasts this super value should be a no brainer.

In April this year we reported that 2009 in the Southern Rhone was another bargain hunter's delight. As samples have steadily rolled in the story of a vintage continues to unfold. It's now clear that given the torrid heat of 2009, early speculation anticipating the stellar quality of reds from less well drained terroirs has proved prudent.

Secondly, searching out the small producers pays off. They embody an expanding trend of first rate growers who instead of selling their best fruit to big brand local negociants like 'Guigal', are now realising their viticultural flair justifies representation under their own labels. Thirdly, if you like Southern Rhone reds, (and given the pace at which these wines sell it's abundantly clear that most of you do), then pay particular attention to the 'Cotes du Rhone-Villages' (it's a step up from the basic Cotes du Rhone AOC).

Putting it all together you get a formula for some very shrewd buying and in 2009, Rasteau is arguably one of the first places you should be looking. Traditionally one of 19 tiny villages permitted to mention the village name on their labels (provided they respect the more restrictive yields as well as other analytical requirements at harvest), now as of 2010, Rasteau steps up the hierarchy even further, ranking with top flight appellations like Chateau Neuf du Pape, Cornas & Gigondas to name a few.

The 'Cru level' is the ultimate recognition of the collective effort of the Rasteau vignerons and makes these direct imports absolute bargains at todays prices.

The appellation's 880 hectares of vines are planted on marl and red and yellow clay soils over sandstone with rounded stones covering some sectors, which in heatwave vintages act like health insurance against hydric stress. By law, the Grenache component in the dry red blends must be 50% minimum, with Syrah and/or MourvËdre 20% minimum and other grape varieties of the appellation tolerated up to 20%.

Since inital samples arrived eight months ago, tasting and retasting these reds has revealed a texture and structure that tends towards the 'classicism' of 2007 rather than the extreme 'fruit-bomb-forwardness' that characterised many 2009s. Right now, these are powerful, tannic, brawny wines showcasing the best elements of the vintage, and wines that will put Australian 'GSM' blends back in their place as the antecedents of these Southern Rhone archetypes. In short, here is another collection to reaffirm 2009 Rhone as one of the great high points of 2009 in the Northern hemisphere. But, be warned: At the extreme bargain end, the treasure trove is fast drying up and will be over sooner than you think. This is a direct shipment - no wholesalers. Our advice is to stock up now or never (and all the more so given the gloomy predicament for the 2011 vintage in Australia).

We would prefer to be promoting the interests of Australian producers, but the quality of several international vintages has made them simply impossible to ignore. 2009 Rhone should be nothing less than compelling for anyone looking for imported red wine bargains.
Tasting note....
Part of the sudden success of Domaines Des Escaravailles is due to the input of French oenologist, Philippe Cambie. As well as acting as a consultant winemaker for other Southern Rhone estates like Domaine Grand Nicolet, Cambie also consults to many of the top wines in Chateauneuf du Pape, including Pegau and Vieux Donjon. The 'La Ponce' exhibits an opaque, dark crimson red colour with dark crimson red hue. The nose carries a perfumed lift which includes black raspberry and dark cherry, as well as scents of liquorice, meat and incense. Generously proportioned, the palate offers opulent flavours of dark raspberry, black plum, liquorice and sweet spices followed by a hint of blackpepper. Very fine grained and dry tannins but well integrated. Excellent concentration and depth with a long aftertaste of dark raspberry, black plum, meat, spice and pepper.
Decant to drink now. Will continue to improve over the next 4-5 years (2011-2016)
Alc 15.0% Other Reviews....
More rustic, full-bodied and masculine with abundant notes of chocolate, roasted herbs, jus de viande and bouquet garni is the 2009 Cotes du Rhone-Villages Rasteau La Ponce. A big wine that still has tannins to resolve, it needs 1-2 years in the bottle and will drink well over the following decade... However, given past performances of these wines, I am sure they will turn out well. Drink 2011-2021
88-90 points
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #191, Oct 2010.