2010 Cave de Rasteau “Signature” Vin Doux Naturel and Brutti Ma Buoni #Winophiles

As our last installment of 2017, the French Winophiles (#Winophiles)  will feature dessert wines from France. It seems a fitting end to a year in which we covered a wide scope of topics that took us around the country through food, travel and history as much as tasting wine.  Just as a dessert wine beautifies the winding-down of dinner, this experience eases us through the end of 2017 to a new and bright 2018 according to Jill Barth of L’Occasion, who is hosting our event.

I’m pairing the 2010 Cave de Rasteau “Signature” Vin Doux Naturel with a chocolatey twist on a classic Italian dessert – Brutti Ma BuoniAppropriately I think, I’ll cover the details of the dessert at the end of this article.

About Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel Wines

Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel wines are sweet wines from the parish of Rasteau. It is a parish in the southern Rhone valley, located roughly 15 miles  northeast of the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

The wines are made from Grenache  (Grenache BlancGrenache Gris or Grenache Noir) grapes.

Vins doux naturel (naturally sweet wine) is produced by using pure grape spirit to stop fermentation, while there is still a significant quantity of sugar remaining. This process results in a sweet wine with a higher alcohol level (around 16% in this case) according to winesearcher.com.

I was first introduced to Vin doux naturel not long after I seriously “got into” wine.  I went to a tasting a my favorite local wine shop K&L Wine Merchant, who was doing a tasting called “Unique Dessert Wines From Around The World.

Based on what I had learned about dessert wines at that point, I knew that (arguably) in the world of dessert wines (a.k.a. “stickies”) Ports from Portugal, and Sauternes from Bordeaux rule.  I was eager to see what other regions of the world have to offer.

The tasting featured wines “stickies” from  Austria, Hungary, Canada, Greece, and lesser known regions of France – Loire, Languedoc-Roussillon, and Alsace.

One of the more memorable wines from that tasting for me was a vin doux naturel from the Maury region of France. It is essentially the same type of wine (fortified Grenache) produced in a different area of Southern France.

In My Glass

Founded in 1925, The Cave de Rasteau is one of the oldest cooperative wineries in the south Rhone Valley of France.  The 180 grower benefit from the exceptional terroir of Rasteau, where the vines grown in soils of large quartzite pebble washed down by the Rhone river and clay/chalk soil on the hillsides of the village of Rasteau.  The region earned independent AOC status in July 2010.

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This wine is vinified only in exceptional vintages. The fruit for the wine is made from 50- to 90-year-old vines with a maximum yield of 30hl/hc–less than a bottle of wine per vine, according to the winery.  50% of the blend is  aged in barrels (20% new French) for 12 months before bottling.

My tasting notes follow:

Color – Ruby color with hints of mahogany
Aromas – Mixed dried cherries, kirsch, red currant, and red licorice
Body – Full bodied and rich, with a mellow sweetness that is not cloying thanks to a nice underpinning of acidity
Taste – Redolent of dried cherries and baked cherries with hints of cacao and red currants.
Finish – Clean and very satisfying

100% Grenache Noir; 16.5% abv; 500ml;  SRP = $20

If you’re looking for a dessert wine to pair with something chocolate, there’s nothing like a glass of Vin Doux Naturel – KL Wine Merchants. 

The Pairing

We’re blessed to be close friends with a couple who are fellow wine enthusiasts. Not only that, she has mastered baking decadent and delectable desserts.

All we did was invite them by to taste some of the Beaujolais wines from last month’s #Winophiles event.

Et viola!

They showed up with a bottle of the 2010 Cave de Rasteau “Signature” Vin Doux Naturel, and the  Brutti Ma Buoni

Brutti Ma Buoni, which literally means “Ugly but Good”, are traditional Italian hazelnut meringue cookies from the Lombardy region.  They are considered to be part of the cucina povera (poor, simple, everyday cooking that aims to utilize whatever is found in the kitchen, farm to prepare meals)  because in the traditional recipe they are made with left over egg whites and hazelnuts.

I seriously doubt that any “leftovers” were utilized to make the Brutti Ma Buoni our friend made, and they were made with plenty of chocolate.  So they’re definitely non-traditional in that way.

Nevertheless, they are totally seriously delectable!

As for the pairing?  A slice of heaven on earth!

Be sure to check out what other delicious French dessert wines and pairing my fellow #winophiles are serving up!

If you’re up and at ’em, please join us on Saturday, December 16th at 8am PST on Twitter. Find the hashtag #Winophiles and explore our questions and answers, photos and articles, recipes and travel plans.


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  1. Sounds great, Martin. Did this one feature oxidyzed aromas? Susannah’s did and another VDN I tried recently also did. I’m curious if it’s a winemakers choice or if some AOC’s allow it and other don’t. Hmmm…. must go get some more!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Jeff! I didn’t pick up any oxidized aromas on this one. Great question though. Wishing you and yours a magical holiday season. Hopefully thing are going well in China!

  2. Love the dessert idea – ugly but good. The Italians have a way of getting right to the point, don’t they? Sounds like it was a winner with the Rasteau!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Lauren! It really was a magnificent pairing. Glad I wasn’t left along with the Brutti ma Buoni and the wine! Happy holidays to you and yours!

  3. Lynn says:

    Another score for the south of France! Although I haven’t a lot of this fortified style, the ones I’ve tasted have been complex and less sweet. Love the cookie pairing which I can imagine added to the complexity?!?

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      I must confess, I was delighted to see a couple of other wines from the South of France in the lineup! And yes, the chocolatey character of the cookie added to the complexity of the wine. It was definitely a case of each making the other taste better! Happy holidays!

  4. I love Brutti Ma Buoni. I don’t think they are so ugly, but they are definitely good. This VDN sounds delicious and a great pairing with the cookies. Thanks for sharing Martin.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      My pleasure Michelle! Wishing you and yours a magical holiday season!

      1. Right back at ya buddy.

  5. I have the same bottle in my cellar and was thinking about a chocolate dessert to pair with it….thank you for the Brutti Ma Buoni recipe, sounds delicious and perfect for holiday baking! Can’t wait. Happy Holidays!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Jane! Happy holidays to you and your as well! I think you’re going to enjoy that bottle of Rasteau!

  6. Brutti Ma Buoni are some of my favorite sweets. Now I just need to make a batch AND grab a bottle of this wine. Thanks, as always, for the recommendations, Martin.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Cam and you’re welcome! As noted the version in my post is chocolate-based. Since this my first time having the dessert, I’m looking forward to trying the more traditional version one of these days! Happy holidays to you and your family!

  7. lizbarrett says:

    Great post! Rasteau is new to me and now I’ll look for it! Great description and interesting dessert pairing, too!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Liz! Happy holidays to you and yours!

  8. VDN wines are new to me! Sounds fabulous! And I will have to get Sue to make these cookies! Thanks for the tip!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Gwendolyn! If you like chocolate, then I think you’ll really enjoy the version in the link in my post. Happy holidays to you and yours!

  9. Jill Barth says:

    I adore all things Rasteau! Thanks for sharing. I’ve learned something new, never tried Ugly But Good – how fun!

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