Thursday, 25 February 2016

"We found it in the back room."

Do you ever have that worn out, world weary feeling where everything seems altogether too much effort? The world just seems like it's draped in a beige cloth of mediocrity. Fortunately this kind of malaise isn't something I'm given to readily, but I make an exception when I trawl the shelves of high street wine shops. I just don't know who buys this junk.
As I was digging around for something interesting to drink in my local Liquor Mountain I was beginning to notice the beige feeling descend. Then something unusual happened. I chanced upon something that made me stop, double take and then immediately pick up the bottle and take it to the cashier.

Rasteau is an appellation in the Rhone valley long known for producing sweet fortified wine. I've never tried it, nor do I know anyone who ever has. Not my bag anyway. The thing is, for a long time the winemakers of that area were lobbying the French Government to allow them to sell their dry table wines under the Rasteau name. I suppose they were sick of having to sell them as simply Côtes du Rhône (or from '96, Côtes du Rhône Village) . In 2010 the Local wine makers of the village of Rasteau got their wish. Their very own table wine appellation! That makes this bottle of Domaine de la Combe Dieu somewhat of an oddity in Japan. A wine from 2000. Labelled as a Village.

When I popped it open two things hit me. Sharp. Wood. There was an initial hit of something that at first whiff had the feeling of vinegar about it. Before I was able to recoil in horror it had passed. I hope it was just some sort of residue on the cork or in the capsule. The woodyness was a little more in keeping with what I might have expected. It wasn't the wood tone of an oak barrel aged wine, it was more the soggy bret funk of a dead and decaying tree stump. Not a great start.

In the glass this quickly blew off revealing...Not a lot if truth be told. The nose of this wine is unmistakably Grenache with it's bright sand hits of cherry and redcurrent. A little leathery, but altogether muted. "Fully mature" would be a polite way to put it. In fairness I don't expect the winemakers at the Domaine expected this bottle to be matured in an uncontrolled fashion in a back ally in Osaka for fifteen years. Considering this the nose has born up fairly well. It's just a bit boring.

It's unfair to judge the colour as well. The cork had a tone of wine crystals on and from the look of them there's going to be a ton of sediment in this yet to be finished bottle. I rushed this home and opened it so I had expected murk. 

As this wine hits the tongue there's a tingle. It still has a zing of acid left after all these years. It's the key to this win and it's really what stops it from being a dead loss. The acid combines well with the matured fruit of the Grenache (I really don't think there's much else in here other than the Grenache. Perhaps a little Syrah.) and I must say this bottle goes down rather nicely. Complexity? Look elsewhere. Length? The structure of the tannins just aren't up to the task. Interest? I suppose so. I can't recommend it purely because for every bottle on the shelf of your local Liquor Mountain in decent condition, I imagine that there are three others that are either cooked, oxidised or corked. It's that kind of wine. It's that kind of shop. If, however, you have a nose for gambling and ¥2000 to spare, it might brighten a meal for you. Leave it upright for a couple of days to sort the sediment though. There's a good chap.

Domaine de la Combe Dieu Rasteau 2000. Worn out, world weary. but certainly not a beige wine.

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