Imposing, full-bodied, sun-blessed and rich, Rasteau is naturally gifted. favourite of the gods, its wines are models of density.Christophe Tassan
A village in the Haut-Vaucluse, perched atop a 200m high hill, Rasteau looks out to the Dentelles de Montmirail. Village life revolves around the main square (place d’Apparent), edged with plane trees, that forms the main place of business as well as a centre of village festivities.
The relatively sheltered vineyard is south-facing, and the great diversity of soils and uneven terrain produce wines with a very strong character. Rasteau AOC was elevated to Côtes du Rhône Cru status in 2010, owing largely to the quality of its wines and the efforts of the appellation’s winemakers. Rasteau is also known for its Vin Doux Naturel fortified wines.
The AOC’s wines must contain at least 50% Grenache. Grenache Noir is the king of Rasteau’s vineyards, and is found in all of its vats. It creates structured, aromatic wines that are generous and full-bodied. It is a robust grape that stands up well to both winds and lack of water. It is perfectly suited to Rasteau’s terroir with its exposed hillsides with dry, barren land. Produced using old vines, the result is a heady, structured wine with notes of ripe fruits and spices.
Syrah and Mourvèdre (20% minimum) are added to the Grenache for a balanced wine. Syrah, native to the northern Côtes du Rhône, is the most recent addition to Rasteau. It gives the wines an intense colour, and a refined, complex character with notes of black fruits, violet, and spices. Mourvèdre is only cultivated in locations with the best sun, and produces tannic, structured wines with aromas of woodland and fruit preserves.
Other grape varieties include: Carignan, a traditional variety from around the Mediterranean that demands a warm climate, stands up well to wind and drought, and is suited to the hot, dry terroirs of Rasteau. In these barren conditions, it gives the wine a beautiful colour, and a structure that ages well.
The Rasteau vineyard was born in 30BC. Following a period where little was heard of the wine, it was given a new lease of life by the ecclesiastical community in the Middle Ages: so much so that in the 18th century, the vineyard was one of the largest in the Vaucluse, known mainly for its fortified wines. However, in 1870, phylloxera destroyed the vineyard, and American root-stocks had to be used.
In 1935, the winemakers decided go back to their roots, and recommenced production of Vin Doux Naturel in Rasteau. In 1937, the village became part of the Côtes du Rhône AOC, and in 1944 the Rasteau AOC was created for its Vin Doux Naturel. In 1966, Rasteau’s dry wines became part of the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation. Since 2010, the determination of the area’s winemakers has seen Rasteau (dry) red wines become a local appellation. Rasteau is now a Cru of the Southern Rhone Valley.
View the decrees granting appellation status (INAO)2010Birth of AOC Rasteau
The AOC vineyard is spread across most of the village’s vineyards, in the Vaucluse.
Mediterranean influence, south-facing hillsides, some protection from Mistral winds.
One of the many blessings bestowed upon Rasteau Cru is its greatly diverse soils that give the wines their incredibly rich nose that finds its niche somewhere between strength and elegance. The terroir simultaneously contains clay-limestone soil, skeletal soils on marl, and red soil atop sandstone. Each root stock is chosen according to the type of ground, so that the vines are cultivated in the best possible conditions.
A large number of plots are covered in pebbles. They were carried down from the Alps by the Ouvèze when the glaciers melted over 18 million years ago. These pebbles are remarkable in that they store the heat of the day, thereby keeping the vines warm at night and producing a greater concentration of grapes.
In summer, the vines are forced to search deeper to find the resources they need. Thier roots mean that it is less sensitive to water shortages, and enables the grapes to properly ripen. The “poor” Rasteau soils produce high quality wines.
surface area938 hectares
Total production26 824 hl
- 100% Red
Sales29 943 hectolitres
Export*36% exported abroad
Average yield achieved29 hl/ha
*Export figures according to the most recent research
Source : Harvest statement 2013