On the label of this 2001 Rocks and Gravel, Steve Edmunds writes: "Our blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah has always been inspired by the lovely, sunny red wines of the South of France, and these days it may be hard to distinguish from the real thing." I agree. This lovely wine is very much like a Southern Rhone, and not just a Cotes du Rhone but a Gigondas or Chateauneuf du Pape.
This wine clearly has a good bit of Mourvedre in the blend. It's a deep, dense dark ruby color and has spicy Mourvedre-inspired nose and flavors--raspberries, violets, deep earthy tones. It has complete ripeness with an ample body and structure and carries 14.4 percent alcohol nicely. As in a Domaine du Cayron Gigondas, it's simply a part of the beautiful, powerful earthiness. The flavors are deep, serious and concentrated with firm tannins and a ripe, spicy finish.
Go to the Edmunds St. John web site, and you will find a definition of artisan wine that echoes my own. In Edmunds' words: "It is our goal to produce wines of the highest level of quality, integrity, and authenticity, the hallmarks of which are balance, nuance, and elegance, wines that express their origins in place and time, wines through which 'the earth speaks' in a clear and strong voice. " For this vintage of Rocks and Gravel, Edmunds mentions the important contribution of grapes from the Rozet Vineyard in Paso Robles. The grapes are hand picked, destemmed and fermented in open top fermenters with native yeasts. Like many traditional Southern Rhone wines, it is matured in old French puncheons with an average age of 18-22 years.
For $18 to $20 a bottle, it is a wine worth a special search. 2005 is the current vintage.