This month, the French Winophiles (a group of French-wine-loving bloggers) is focusing on an interesting region of the Rhône Valley: Rasteau. When the call went out for samples, I chimed in quickly because I was like, “Huh? Rasteau? What is that?”
Well, I’ll tell you what it is – is a tiny village nestled within the southern Rhône Valley. It was elevated from Côte du Rhône status to its own Cru in 2010, so now it sits proudly beside the other eight Crus in the Southern Rhône Valley, like Cairanne, Gigondas and Vacqueyras.
Rasteau’s calling card is Grenache (the grape) and its besties are Syrah and Mourvèdre – making up one of my all-time favorite red blends – GSM! Yasss! (FYI: all Rasteau wines must include at least 50 percent Grenache and 20 percent of Syrah and Mourvèdre.)
Almost all wines from Rasteau are dry reds (96 percent!) but they do also make Vin Doux Naturel (sweet reds, whites and rosés). There are 57 wineries in Rasteau and I was lucky to get three beautiful bottles (thank you, Rhône Valley Vineyards and Teuwen Communications team).
They are glorious, elegant red wines and especially perfect for this frosty time of year (two snowstorms down already in Chicago, for cryin’ out loud!) Here are my takes on the two wines I’ve tasted so far.
Domaine Lavau Rasteau 2016 ($20 SRP) The Lavau family has been making wine for five generation. Today, brothers Benoit and Frederic Lavau are making the wines. This one is a 50-50 blend of Syrah and Grenache and it is big and brawny and beautiful. Huge aromatics of stewed black fruits, with herbs like fennel and thyme and broken-in leather. It has mouthwatering acidity and a really appealing chewy texture that keeps you going back for another sip. They suggest rabbit, but it was awesome with my Super ’70s Beef Stew and would go with most any beef or lamb dish, or pork belly, or bacon-centric situation. 14.5% ABV (Both Wine Spectator and James Suckling gave this wine 91 points)
Domaine de Beaurenard Rasteau 2017 ($18 SRP) The Coulon brothers Frédéric and Daniel, are the seventh generation to run Domaine de Beaurenard. All their vineyards are certified organic and/or biodynamic and it shows in the freshness and brightness of the wis wine. More red fruit than the Lavau (like raspberry on top of blueberry) and shares that herbal characteristic, as well as that earthy, leathery note. I love this wine! 15% ABV (Wine Spectator gave it 90 points; Jeb Dunnock gave it 92 points!)
I am saving the Elodie Balme to drink with a somm friend who who is always interested in wines made by women, so please hold, and I’ll update this post after I taste that one.
So what foods to pair with these beauties?
I considered lamb (très traditional pairing in the Rhône) but you know what? Life got in the way and I had to go with something easy. So: “Super ’70s Throw-back Beef Stew!” I call it that because a) my mom made it while I was growing up and b) it’s “super 70s” because of one key ingredient: Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup. Mmmm hmmmm. I mean – casseroles and stews made with canned, condensed soup were all the rage back in the day, and guess what? Some of them still work today.
It is kind of like a stroganoff, actually (which is perfect, because we play a game with my mom, who is the left-overs queen of America, and ask her regularly, “Will it stroganoff?” She has stroganoff’ed everything from leftover meatloaf to steak, shrimp and more. She could probably find a way to stroganoff a hotdog if there was a Dairy Queen dipped cone at the end of a string. But I degress!
Super ’70s Beef Stew (serves 8)
3 pounds beef stew meat
1 pound mushrooms (button or cremini)
8 ounces pearl onions, peeled
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup of dry Sherry, like DrySack
2 tsp dried thyme
8 ounces sour cream
What You Do
- Dump the stew meat, the condensed soup and about a tsp each of salt and pepper inside a big enamel pot (like a Le Creuset) and bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 2 hours.
- Take the pot out, add the mushrooms (whole if they are small; halved or quartered if they’re large), the thyme, Sherry and onions. Put the hat on and bake at 325 for 45 minutes.
- Remove the pot, turn off the oven, and stir in the sour cream. Garnish the whole lot with chopped parsley and serve over buttered egg noodles – with the Rasteau red of your choice. (Like most stews, this tastes even better the next day.) Bon appetit!
But wait! One of my blogger friends reminded me about the Thanksgiving aspect of this project and I went, “well, fuck, I forgot about that part.” But don’t you worry – I got this. Aldi to the rescue! Yup – Turkey Cranberry Ravioli from Aldi and before you judge, just let me say this: it is freaking delicious.
Adding to my ’70s theme, I bought a tiny box of turkey gravy from Trader Joe’s, thinned it with a little white wine to make a sauce, and then garnished the ravioli with chopped fresh sage. Amaze-balls! Brought out all the savory, fruity notes in the wine. Find it!
Want to read more about the wines of Rasteau? Check out these other posts by French Winophiles bloggers. And join us Saturday morning, Nov. 16 at 10 a.m. Central time on Twitter, where we’ll chat about the wines, food pairings and more. Just use #winophiles and you’ll find us. Santé!
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 Food 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”
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”
Kat from The Corkscrew Concierge Explain How She is “Expanding my Rhône Valley Palate with Rasteau Wine”
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 Rasteau Wines”
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”