Wine Review: Cristia Côtes du Rhône Villages Rasteau 2009

cristiaYou’ll learn a lot when you ponder the marginal or negligible, the little things in which great things are often buried. So it is with blended wines. Winemakers usually have a reason for the lesser varietals that make up the smaller percentages in a blend. They are often what makes a wine successful.

This relatively inexpensive gem from Rasteau in Southern France is 70% Grenache but its heart is the 30% Mourvèdre that sits at its core. The Mourvèdre seam, I call it, because it is like a pleat that holds a fabric together.

The nose is unimpressive. Ripe strawberry,red plum, a subtle omen of green olive, with a pronounced  tomato paste note, which makes me gloomy. After plenty of aeration, cinnamon finally shows up. The nose seems a little closed.

But the palate jumps. A dark, licorice core dominates, with layers of chocolate and cedar playing a supporting role and a very spicy medium-length finish. A sturdy body with bright acidity, the Mourvèdre seam sits right at the center of the palate like a big, black heart pumping vital juice to the extremities.

The fruit is there on the palate but you barely notice it unless you look for it. This is spice-driven with subtle movement between flavor notes as it evolves on the palate. The 15% alcohol is not a distraction.

Côtes du Rhône Villages followed by the village name, in this case “Rasteau” , refers to select villages in the Southern Rhône Valley that are permitted to use their name with the large, generic Côtes du Rhône AOC.  Rasteau has a fine winemaking tradition known especially for their fortified wine and since 2009 have been permitted to make table wine as an AOC.

Goes nicely with lamb burgers.

Good: Spice-driven, flavorful palate

Bad: Stewed, reticent nose

Average Price=$16, a good value

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