Rasteau Beaumes de Venise
Wednesday 17 September. Unlike our visits on Monday, today we were on veryfamiliar territory, ending up at our favourite vineyard in the southern Rhône. We headed first for Cairanne and Rasteau, hoping to taste the latest wines from Corinne Couturier at the Domaine Rabasse Charavin, one of our earliest encounters in the area in the mid-1990s. But the harvest was in full swing and they were closed until the afternoon so, sadly, we moved on down the road to the Domaine du Trapadis, run by winemaker Helen Durand (a man although the name resembles an English female one). The name Trapadis is derived from the word "Trapalas" which means "cave" in Provençal. Despite the harvest, we were lucky to find someone there to offer us a tasting, and it proved very well worthwhile.
One of the online guides says the basic wines they make in the 2 red AOCs Cairanne (syrah/grenache) and the basic Rasteau (grenache/mourvèdre) taste rather 'green' and that is how they seemed to us. But the dry red 'les Adrès' cuvée, a year older and with a higher percentage of mourvèdre, we found excellent (as do several guides). In addition Rasteau is known for its unusual AOC for a red vin doux naturel, not to everyone's taste but most certainly to ours, and in addition they make a more expensive sweet red made from late-picked grapes ('les Pochonnières') which is truly delicious.
And so on to the Domaine de Durban. We have been up to the heights above Beaumes de Venise many times with our friends and family. On the first trip we bought a dry muscat, the 'fruité de Durban' which we discovered was not always available: the grapes were sometimes needed to produce the sweet Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, a celebrated AOC vin doux naturel, for many years. Now the dry wine is always made and is even available in bag-in-box to Mary's great delight. The domaine boasts some of the best views across the Rhône valley, and is at the edge of the high ground which links Gigondas and Beaumes de Venise, so the domaine makes a really good red Gigondas too, as well as an equally excellent range of red Beaumes de Venise. We could not taste everything this time, but we departed with some Gigondas and a few bottles of the celebrated sweet Muscat - of course we'll be back!