Domaine Brusset “La Bastide” Rasteau 2015 (13.5%, RRP €23.95 at Mitchell & Son)
While Rasteau has been an AOC for Grenache-based Vin Doux Naturel since the 1943 vintage, its dry reds were only promoted up from Côtes du Rhône Villages-Rasteau from the 2009 vintage onwards.
For all my opening talk of autumn, this is a wine that would be perfect(ly) at home on a cold winter’s day. It’s a thick, chewy blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre with a fair dose of new oak, full of ripe black fruits and toasty spices. This style of wine would be too full-on and heavy in summer, but it’s a perfect comfort-wine for autumn into winter.
Alain Jaume “Grande Garrigue” Vacqueras 2014 (14.5%, RRP €24.00 at Mitchell & Son)
“Garrigues” is a wonderful word which means a number of interlinked things: firstly, it’s a type of limestone-based landscape, typical of parts of the Mediterranean coast; secondly, it refers to the low-growing plants and bushes often found on such a terrain; thirdly, it is used as a wine descriptor for notes that conjure up the herbs such as rosemary, lavender and thyme which are found on garrigue.
This bottle is a typical Rhône GSM blend, with 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre. Supple and viscous in the mouth, it dances over the tongue and belies its 14.5% abv. Black fruits are accompanied by fragrant herbal and liquorice notes. A really delicious wine.
Montirius La Tour Gigondas 2015 (13.5%, RRP €27.50 at Baggot Street Wines)
Gigondas is generally regarded as the second most prestigious southern Cru – after Châteauneuf-du-Pape but ahead of Vacqueras. Of course, it’s the wine not the appellation that counts, and biodynamic outfit Montirius have really struck gold with their “young vines” cuvée (if 35 years can be said to be young!) The wine is named “La Tour” after one of the parcels the grapes are sourced from and it has a zero oak regime, being fermented and aged in concrete tanks before bottling. Those who are a fan of oak won’t miss it though, as it’s a soft and cossetting wine. Fresh strawberries and raspberries really stand out, with a shake of exotic spice. At this price it’s amazing value for money!
Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux “Cuvée Doucinello” Vacqueras 2014 (14.5%, RRP €32.00 at Searson’s)
This is Serge Férgioule’s main red cuvée (the other being the old vine “Cuvée Lopy”) which confusingly and charmingly rotates in name between his three daughters – so other vintages could also be Cuvée Floureto or Cuvée Azalaïs. Whatever the name happens to be, the blend is 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and the remaining 10% a mix of Carignan, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. The vines are between 35 and 40 years old and are farmed biodynamically. Serge (and his son) have a hands-off approach in the winery, preferring to do the hard work in the vineyard and then let the fruit speak for itself. The 2014 is soft, powerful and fresh – beautifully balanced and very drinkable.