Another 10-year-old Cotes du Rhone Villages, and this one is just hitting its stride. It's no secret that all of the Domaine Sainte Anne reds, even the simple Cotes du Rhone, are capable of going 10 years or longer in a good vintage. Guy Steinmaier's well run estate is located in St. Gervais in Gard, a relatively cool area of the Southern Rhone.
Sainte Anne's 1998 CDR Villages is a medium to deep crimson with good color all the way to the rim. The nose has a lifted vanilla/resin/honey element that is typical of Sainte Anne wines in a good vintage. It does not come from oak aging (the wines are aged in stainless steel) but probably from the practice of including stems for whole bunch fermentation. A good number of Southern Rhone estates follow this traditional practice, and Steinmaier uses it only in vintages when he is certain the stems are fully ripe and in good condition. The result is a cool aromatic quality that blends nicely with the blueberry and garrigue scents. The wine is also cool on the palate with good fruit flavors. There's a slight dryness on the mid-palate; otherwise it shows good ripeness and a long follow through.