5 Nights of Rasteau (#Winophiles)

Today we’re returning to one of my favorite regions – the Rhône Valley.

Specifically, we’re going to the Southern Rhône to Rasteau, which is located just 15 miles northeast of the far more famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape. I do love CdP – one of the first wines I fell in love with was a CdP – but its neighbors are not to be discounted! Moreover, as a general rule of thumb, one of the best parts of getting to know the neighbors of a more famous region is that, they’re usually a great place to look for wine values, and that is certainly the case here. 

Map courtesy of WineFolly.com

(We’ve also explored previously explored Gigondas and Ventoux, so be sure to check out those posts as well.)

Rasteau is a small medieval village with a lot of history – cobblestone streets, a medieval fort, and the ruins of a castle are all part of the package here. Apparently, the wines of Rasteau were the vins of  choice in the middle ages for the bishops of Vaison-la-Romaine. Later on, in the 18th century, the region became better known for its fortified wines. This continued to be the case until phylloxera came along in 1870 and wiped out all the vineyards here, just as the nasty little buggers did to most of the rest of the vineyards in Europe.

Photo courtesy of Inter Rhône and Teuwen Communications.

Nonetheless, the region replanted and re-established itself. The area was originally part of the Côtes du Rhône AOC when it was established in 1937. However, the village was noted for its quality early on, and in 1966 it earned named village status, appearing as Côtes du Rhône Villages Rasteau. In 2010, they were elevated to Cru status with their own AOC for their red wines, which means they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary next year. (The Vin Doux Naturel dessert wines of the region were granted AOC status in 1944.)

Much like other areas of the Southern Rhône, we’re talking about GSM blends (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre), accompanied by a few other supporting players. Wines must be made up of a minimum 50% Grenache, and 20% of Syrah and/or Mourvèdre.

Photo courtesy of Inter Rhône and Teuwen Communications.

Also like other parts of the Southern Rhône, the area has a warm, Mediterreanean climate in which these sun-loving grapes can easily ripen. They feel the effects of the Mistral, but the vineyards are generally protected by the fact that they’re arranged in the form of an amphitheater. Southern Rhône is famous for its pudding stones, which are large and round, and you can find these here as well. These most celebrated rocks help with drainage, and also help with temperature control in both hot and cold weather. These tend to located at elevations of 951–1050 feet. Other important soil types in the region include sandy marl (located at 525-951 feet) and terraces of pebble-rich soils (394-525 feet) .

The landscape is made up of gently rolling  hills and valleys. These seem to form form spurs that resemble the tines of a rake, which in French is râteau, and gives the region it’s name.
Here are a few more quick facts:

  • There are 57 independent wineries, 25 negotiants, and 3 cooperatives.
  • Rasteau is at  656 feet of altitude and looking out towards the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range.
  • The AOC Rasteau offers 96% dry reds and 4% Vin Doux Naturels (sweet) red, white or rosé.
  • Vineyards span nearly 3,212 acres around the village, most of which are south-facing.  

Like I said, Rhône wines in general have always been among my favorites and are go-to’s at our house. They’re pretty versatile and work in many different settings. Given the time of year right now, I can’t help but start to think of Thanksgiving, but they’re also great for everyday.

If you know me, you know I actually love leftovers – I kind of see them as a game. I think one of my superpowers is transforming leftovers into something new and different. Well, Thanksgiving is kind of like the Superbowl of leftovers. So, as a way of demonstrating how these wines would work with both Thanksgiving flavors and the everyday table, I paired most of these with wines with leftovers.

Disclosures: most of these wines in this post were provided as media samples – no other compensation was received and all opinions are my own. The page also includes Amazon Associate links, from which I might earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. Vineyard and winemaking details are taken from tech sheets provided by Inter Rhone and Teuwen Communications, as well as the producer websites. 

Lavau Rasteau 2015 with Mushroom &  Butternut Squash Arancini 

Average Price: $20 (sample)
Blend: 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah
Alcohol: 13.5%

Winery: The Lavau family’s story in wine is a long and winding road. It began in Saint-Émilion in the 19th century. The next stop was in Tunisia, where René Lavau and his son took a small estate of vines and orange trees, and turned it into the country’s biggest wine producer. René’s grandson, Jean-Guy Lavau, and his wife Anne-Marie returned to France in the 1960s and took charge of a small winemaking cellar in Sablet at the heart of the Rhone Valley. Their sons, Frédéric and Benoît, joined the domaine in the 1990’s, and then took full reigns of the facility in 2000. They invested in modernizing the winery, built a new cellar in Voilès, and invested in vineyards as well. Once updated and modernized, Maison Lavau began to produce its own estate wines from their 445 acres, but they also work with many small, family-run vineyards.

Vineyard & Winemaking Deets:  Grapes are hand harvested from vines that are stony hillsides and east facing, followed by destemming, and elevage in neutral vessel. The juice undergoes a 25-day maceration with twice-daily pump-overs before pressing. After fermentation, the wine is aged for 12 months in barrel, 25% of that in 450L second use oak.
Soil: Pebbles and marl

Tasting Notes: Raspberry liqueur, black cherry, white pepper, red plums, and hints of licorice and light herbs on the nose. On the palate there was a nice balance of plush fruit, flowers, and hints of stony earth. Body and acidity were both straddling the line between medium and medium +, and tannins were medium.

Pairing: Arancini have to be one of the all-time best leftover makeovers. Pretty much anytime I make risotto, I’ll make arancini a few days later. I lay out the basics of how to make them in this post. MMMMMMMMMM! These had fall flavors of mushrooms and butternut squash, and were filled with mozzarella. Since I also had some leftover steak gravy, we had that as a sauce to dip about the crispy rice balls into. For me, risotto is often itself a receptacle for leftover proteins and veggies, so here you have two ideas right away for Thanksgiving leftovers  – risotto one day and arancini another.

They wine worked well with these delicious balls of goodness, but it particularly liked the savory gravy. 

I also recently shared a rosé from Lavau in this post on NibblingGypsy.com.

Domaine Mikael Boutin MB Rasteau 2016 with Steak Taco Bowls

Average Price: $20 (sample)
Blend:  60% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Carignan, 10% Cinsault
Alcohol: 14.5%

Winery: Mikael Boutin is a fifth-generation winemaker, who took over the family’s vineyards in 2008, and he released his first bottling in 2011. He has a small production facility that  is roughly the size of a two-car garage, where he has a few large concrete tanks and a basket press. Boutin focuses only on Rasteau and has just under 5 acres of vines scattered across eight parcels of varying exposures and soils. He farms organically and has certified since 2012.

Vineyard & Winemaking Deets: Grapes are harvested by hand. All fermentations are spontaneous with wild yeasts and last 15 to 18 days in concrete tanks, with pump overs once a day. Wines are aged on fine lees for 8 months in concrete tanks. The wine remains unfined and held for 12 months after bottling before release to the market.
Average Vine Age: 40 years
Soil: Limestone-clay with marl and pebbles

Tasting Notes:  Warm black cherries, raspberry candy, warm earth, and spice on the nose. The fruits are more tart on the palate, with notes of savory garrigue, bramble, and a hint of lavender.  The wine was medium+ in body and acidity, and medium + tannins that were round and dusty. The wine was throwing sediment, so I’d recommend decanting or pour carefully as you come to the end of the bottle.

Pairing: We had this wine with steak taco bowls with black beans, rice, leftover veggies, and crisped up tortillas. The wine matched quite well!

Tacos, quesadillas, and taco bowls are another great way to use leftover veggies and proteins. Pick the ones you feel would match best and fill a tortilla or bowl with them, then just add some sour cream, salsa, and/or avocado. 

Domaine de Verquiere 2017 Rasteau with Butternut Squash Alfredo Pasta 

Average Price: $14 (I bought this at K & L for $14.99)
Blend: 70 % Grenache, 30% Syrah
Alcohol:  14%

Winery: The Domaine de Verquiere estate has been handed down from father to son for
generations and is currently managed by Romain and Thibaut Chamfort. Each generation has done their part. Their great-grandfather Edmond purchased the buildings and renovated them. He’d sell his wines in large barrels to the region’s best wine merchants. The grandfather Louis gave the estate new life when he began selling the wines in bottles and growing the property. Next, their father Bernard and his wife Genevieve took over, and increased sales through export. Romain and Thibaut Chamfort are continuing to develop the land according to the traditions set out for them, and have set about converting the vineyards to organic principles.

Vineyard & Winemaking Deets: Must is cold soaked before for 3 days, then fermented at a controlled temperature of between 26 and 30°C. Wine goes through 3 ‘delestages’ ́ (a 2-part process, where wine is pumped out of the tank, then pumped back over the cap) during fermentation. The traditional fermentation on skins lasts for 30 days in the vat. Wine is aged in barrels for at least 12 months.
Soil: Clay-limestone with rounded pebbles and a granite base.

Tasting Notes: This was on the earthier end of the Rasteaus we tried, with stones mixed with lots of dark red and black spiced fruits with a hit of pepper. The body was medium+, with firm tannins, and fresh acidity.

I've often purchased the wines of Domaine de Verquiere because I find them to be a good value at the price. This one was no exception.

Pairing: We paired this with pasta topped with leftover veggies and chicken, and this Butternut Squash Alfredo Sauce we’ve been loving from Trader Joe’s. Pasta is no-brainer for transforming leftovers. Cook pasta, add protein, veggies, olive oil, maybe some seasonings, and you’re done. If you feel like you really need a completely new flavor, add sauce.

I’ll give this particular pairing a B, because it was fine, but I think the food wanted a riper, fruitier wine – some of the others here would’ve been fine. The wine would’ve worked better with a more decidedly savory dish. A peppery beef or lamb steak would’ve been great.

The winery also makes the following suggestions: With its more robust nature and earthier character the Rasteau red goes well with strongly flavored game dishes such as wild boar or deer. It is also good with medium-matured cheeses.

Domaine La Font de Notre Dame Rasteau Le Chêne 2016 with Brisket on Cachapas

Suggested Price: $18 (Sample)
Blend: 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah, 5% Cinsault
Alcohol: 14.5%

Winery: This is a very old family estate is run by brothers Frédéric and Boris Roux. Their name comes from a pilgrimage stop visited by the Provencal people in the Middle Ages which was supposed to protect them from the plague. The brothers worked for 30 years under their father before taking over the property and founding La Font de Notre Dame in 2016. They  cultivate just under 32 acres in Rasteau on south facing slopes, with clay soils and an abundance of heat-retaining pebbles.

Vineyard & Winemaking Deets: The fruit is hand harvested and traditionally vinified. The maceration is long with pump-overs to extract silky tannins and deep purple color. The wine is aged in vats and 3 to 5 year old barrels.
Average Vine Age: 80 years
Soil: Pebbles and brown marl.

Tasting Notes: I have to be honest –  I didn’t take as careful notes for this wine, because I just kind of got caught up in the enjoyment of it. It was on the riper, more hedonistic end of the wines tried here. It showed lots of warm, ripe, berry sauce notes, white pepper, and baking spice notes.

Pairing: We paired this with leftover brisket from this recent recipe on top of cachapas. You’re probably asking, ‘What’s a cachapa? They’re Venezuelan corn pancakes. They’re usually topped pretty simply with butter and fresh cheese, but I thought why stop there? They’re made pretty easily with a mix, but they’re a lot like corn griddle cakes. A side of cornbread would also be great, or even a little scoop of stuffing. This pairing was kind of an unexpected winner. I was a little worried about the lightly sweet notes from the corn, but it all came together thanks largely to the fact that the wine was one the riper end. 

Chateau du Trignon Rasteau 2015 with Beef Wellington

Suggested Price: $25 (Sample)
Blend: 60% Grenache, 40% Mourvèdre
Alcohol: 15%

Winery: Château du Trignon started as a traditional farm in 1896, with mixed agriculture and livestock, owned by the Roux family. (The same Roux family as above.) Over five generations they grew their holdings and converted the farm to vineyards. They sold the land to the Quiot family in 2007 –  Geneviève, Florence, Jérome and Jean Baptiste. The vineyards span several appellations, with 12 acres in Rasteau. Winemaker Jérome Quiot oversees the production, and improvements are underway in the winery.

Vineyard & Winemaking Deets:
Grapes are completely de-stemmed, then undergo a 17 to 21 day maceration, followed by a 17 to 21 day fermentation in concrete tanks with indigenous yeast. Wines are aged for 12 months in French oak barrels (1 to 3 years old) foudres and concrete tanks.
Average Vine Age: 30 years
Soil: Red clay and small pebbles, single parcel

Tasting Notes: The wine showed notes on the nose of berries, red plums, white pepper, and garrigue. The palate showed similar notes along with hints of cocoa and spices. It was warm and velvety, combining decadent and savory elements nicely. The wine was at the fuller end of the spectrum of those tasted, with medium+ acid and tannins.

Pairing: I’ve been experimenting with Beef Wellington recently, and this wine with my second attempt. I’ll share more about those experiments soon, but the wine was a really good match with its combination of savory notes and richness.

The winery also recommends game birds, rack of pork, or lamb chops.


The rest of the French Winophiles (#Winophiles) is also exploring Rasteau this month. Michelle at Rock in Red Blog helped to arrange samples from Inter Rhône and Teuwen Communications – Thanks Michelle!

  • 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 CookingChat Writes About "Chicken Lentil Stew and Rhone Wine from Rasteau" 
  • Deanna from Asian TestKitchen tells us how to “Become a Rasteau—farian”
  • Gwendolyn from Wine Predator says “Go Grenache, Go Rasteau: Four Paired with Lamb Daube”
  • 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"
  • Pinny from ChineseFood & Wine Pairings Writes About “One Rabbit, Two Turkey Drumsticks and Four Rasteau Wines”
  • Payal from Keepthe 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 ADay in the Life on the Farm Shares “A German-Style Shepherds Pie with a French Rasteau”


Other resources used for this post:
The Oxford Companion to Wine via JancisRobinson.com



  1. Wow, love the idea of squash in the arancini as well as the corn cakes! And I agree about the wines -- great value.

  2. Wow, you are a leftover ninja! I earned a backwards compliment early in my marriage when I was rooting around the frig for lunch up at the in-laws cabin. My mother-in-law referred to me as a billygoat (willing to eat anything....). The family is famous for saving all leftovers but never eating them. Anyway, she meant it as a compliment and I took it proudly.

    1. I would too, actually! I've actually run into similar situations with family that are timid around leftovers. Thanks Jeff!

  3. I was completely distracted from the get go by the mushroom & butternut arancini - saving this recipe for sure!

  4. Think I am making risotto so I can have a "leftover makeover" of mushroom + butternut squash arancini! YUM!!!!

    1. It's one of the few occasions in life where the sequel might just be better than the original! And the original is damn good too! Thanks Jane

  5. Whoa! A tour-de-force of Rasteau and food pairings Nicole. Loved your post!


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!