The Rhone is the spinal cord of western European history, linking the civilisations of the Med to the cold, grapeless North. Head south nowadays down the Route de Soleil that follows that river's course and turn left about 100 km before Marseilles and you'll find Rasteau.
It's not actually on the Rhone, but it's one of those wonderful places that make up the superior appelation of Cotes De Rhones Villages.
I love the words Vacqueyras, Gigondas, Tricastin and Rasteau. I spent a wonderful evening once on a terrace outside a farmhouse in the Ardeche with a top Dutch theatre person supping these fruits of the south. Short, wrinkled, moustache. Great raconteur and lover of the wines of the southern Rhone.
Those sensuous names, when rolled around his gutteral Nederlandish mouth, sounded even more dramatic and full of flavour.
And at their best, that's what these wines are like.
Very local. Full of the stones and herbs that make up that almost-Provence landscape.
This little number was a relatively modest bottle bought en primeur from the Wine Society that I've had in the coal cellar for five years. Hence, all the dust and cobwebs on the label.
But it's a lovely drinkable red which given some time in the air, opens up nicely from a very concentrated, deep red, almost sharp, into something quite wonderfully sunny and relatively sweet.
I dedicate this little blog to the memory of Ric Van Hulst.