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Like many wine lovers, I adore France’s Southern Rhône region. Heck, I love all of the Rhône Valley, north and south and have written about the wines a few times including most recently here (which also provides a great primer on the region). And as it is for many (including past popes and kings), Châteauneuf-du-Pape is like my spirit juice. But over the years, due to wine education, not to mention curiosity, I’ve wandered from the virtual borders of CDP and began to explore other Southern Rhône regions outside of CDP. And what I’ve found, and continue to find, is that there are some delicious wines at amazing values to be had throughout the region.

With its warm, Mediterranean climate creating easier going and more approachable wines, not to mention the number of permitted varieties, there is probably a Rhône out there for everyone. With Grenache leading the way, Southern Rhône wines are generally fruitier and riper than their brethren to the north. Whether sipping the sturdy Roses of Tavel, the delectable sweet Vin Doux Naturels of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, or the finesse of Gigondas, there is no shortage of variability in the region. 

Map of the Rhône Valley (c) Wine Folly

Taking the journey northeast of CDP, the French #Winophiles are diving into the wines of Rasteau and will discuss all things Rasteau wine on Twitter, Saturday, November 16 at 10 CST.  Just follow along with the #Winophiles hashtag.

Searching my brain, I couldn’t think of a Rasteau wine I’d previously had. And then it hit me. I’d had a sweet Vin Doux Naturel at a wine dinner but that was the only exposure to Rasteau wine I could come up with. So essentially, I found myself digging into a new (to me) region. Ain’t wine grand?! Here are a few facts about Rasteau.

  • Rasteau was promoted to Côtes du Rhône cru1 status for its dry red wine in 2010 (backdated to the 2009 vintage). It was previously classified under the Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC.
  • The sweet, fortified wines of the region have had a separate AOC since 1944.
  • The region produces mostly red wine – around 96%.
  • Grenache (wines must contain at least 50%) is the dominant variety with Syrah and Mourvèdre playing along.
  • Many vineyards are planted on hillsides exceeding 500 feet.
  • At a high level, these are powerful red wines balanced by freshness and minerality.

For our #Winophiles discussion, I picked up a bottle of Rasteau at my local Total Wine.

2011 Cave de Rasteau Ortas Prestige ($20) 

The Ortas Cave de Rasteau is a large cooperative winery that is the leading producer and marketer of Rasteau wine. So if you’re on the hunt for Rasteau wine, this is a good bet. This one is crafted of 65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre. Powerful depth of flavor with a surprising touch of minerality, along with licorice, blackberry, leather and even some meatiness. Grippy tannins upon opening eventually mellowed out.

As the temperature had turned cooler (at least for 2 days!) I was in the mood for comfort food. So a short rib ragu it was. Note: I’m not Italian so will not debate what constitutes a proper ragu. 

Rasteau Wine Paired w/ Short Rib Ragu

My sauce was mostly short rib, red wine, and a small amount of tomatoes. I’ve long loved Grenache-based wines with braised meats and stews and this combo did not disappoint. The robust wine definitely needed the savoriness and fat from the short rib to stand up to it.

We also tried the Rasteau the with pork carnitas.

Rasteau Wine Paired with Carnitas

In this instance, it was OK, but not as successful of a paring as the short rib ragu. The carnitas were not nearly as great a foil to the bold Rasteau. Overall, it was a decent pairing, but just not as seamless as the ragu. 

For more pairing ideas for Rasteau, check out what my fellow #Winophiles prepared.

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Cam Shares “A Birthday Tradition + Side-by-Side Sips of Domaine de Verquière Rasteau”

Cathie from Side Hustle Wino “Getting to Know the Wines of Rasteau”

David from Cooking Chat Writes About “Chicken Lentil Stew and Rhone Wine from Rasteau” 

Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen tells us how to “Become a Rasteau—farian”

Gwendolyn from Wine Predator says “Go Grenache, Go Rasteau: Four Paired with Lamb Daube”

Jane from Always Ravenous Writes About “Flavors of Provence Paired with Rhône Rasteau Wines”

Jeff from Food Wine Click Explains “Rasteau and the Côtes du Rhône Quality Pyramid”

Linda from My Full Wine Glass Writes about “Basking in the Glow of Rasteau” #Winophiles

Liz from What’s in That Bottle Says, “You Like Big Reds? Get to Know Rasteau”

Lynn from Savor the Harvest writes about “Rhone Valley Rasteau Cru – A New Generation Wine With Duck Confit #winophiles”

Martin from Enofylz Writes About “Getting To Know Rasteau”

Nicole from Somm’s Table Shares “Five Nights of Rasteau”

Pinny from Chinese Food & Wine Pairings Writes About “One Rabbit, Two Turkey Drumsticks and Four RasteauWines”

Payal from Keep the Peas writes about “Rasteau: Not So Rustic in the Southern Rhone”

Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles writes about “Fall, Thanksgiving and the flavors of Rasteau”

Rupal from Syrah Queen writes, “Rasteau –  Exploring The Gems of Southern Rhone”

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm Shares “A German-Style Shepherds Pie with a French Rasteau”

  1. Cru denotes the highest classification of an AOC in the Rhône. Think of it as a pyramid with basic Côtes du Rhône AOC on the bottom, with Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC above that, then Côtes du Rhône Villages with a name appendage, and finally the Crus named for the premium villages.

16 Comments

  1. Fall, Thanksgiving and the flavors of Rasteau #Winophiles - Crushed Grape Chronicles
    3 weeks ago

    […] Kat from The Corkscrew Concierge explains how she is “Expanding My Rhône Valley Palate with Rasteau Wine” […]

    Reply
  2. Lynn
    3 weeks ago

    Your ‘proper ragu’ comment made me laugh Kat! Have had that conversation with friends, as well as the ‘is it ragu or sugo’ discussion. Things with red sauces and Grenache based wines are winners 😉

    Reply
    1. Kat
      3 weeks ago

      Ha ha! I’m just over the debate!

      Reply
  3. Gwendolyn Alley
    3 weeks ago

    I agree: braised meats are awesome with Rhone wines! PS I love the flowers in the photo!

    Reply
    1. Kat
      2 weeks ago

      Yes a fab combo! The flowers were an anniversary gift from Mr. Corkscrew.

      Reply
  4. Linda Whipple, CSW
    3 weeks ago

    Comfort food seems just right for these hearty, structured wines. Perfect pair for chilly fall and winter dining!

    Reply
    1. Kat
      2 weeks ago

      It was welcome with the cooler temps.

      Reply
  5. jeff
    3 weeks ago

    So interesting the wine didn’t go great with pork carnitas. Time and time again, I’m convinced pork is best with white wine. What do you think?

    Reply
    1. Kat
      2 weeks ago

      I do drink whites with pork, but also am a big fan of pig and Pinot!

      Reply
  6. Cathie Schafer
    3 weeks ago

    CDP is your spirit juice! That made me literally laugh out loud! Certainly no one can debate that your Ragu looks and sounds absolutely delicious, especially with this Rasteau pairing.

    Reply
    1. Kat
      2 weeks ago

      Ha ha! Just keepin it real!

      Reply
  7. Nicole Ruiz Hudson
    2 weeks ago

    It’s always so much fun to get to know a new region! And I completely feel you with the CdP! The ragu looks fantastic!

    Reply
  8. Jane
    2 weeks ago

    Your short rib ragù sounds like a winner to me with the Rasteau wines.

    Reply
  9. Robin Bell Renken
    2 weeks ago

    The Ortas sounds delicious, as does your Ragu. I do love the Rhône and appreciate your piece. The photo BTW is stunning.

    Reply
    1. Kat
      2 weeks ago

      Thanks so much Robin. Those photos are a labor of love for sure.

      Reply
  10. MARTIN D REDMOND
    2 weeks ago

    That Ragu with Rasteau sounds great Kat. I wonder if the carnitas pairing would have worked better if the wine was all Grenache? I’m a mole lover and 100% Grenache is a wine that has been recommended to me as s good pairing. I enjoyed reading your post!

    Reply

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