Friday, May 29, 2009

Domaine Sainte Anne Cotes du Rhone, 2004

Right now my cellar is well stocked with Domaine Sainte Anne wines from all of the good vintages since 1998. And that makes me happy. None of these wines is ready to fall off the edge--even the 1998s (especially the 1998s, I should say!)--and the range of vintages gives me a good feeling for how these wines develop. It's the lower-priced bottlings--the Cotes du Rhone and the Cotes du Rhone Villages--that interest me most at the moment because I know the high-end Notre Dame and Saint Gervais are good for the long haul.

The Cotes du Rhone ($8 to $10) comes from younger vines (averaging 15 years) and is the least complex and resistant to change. This 2004 shows a bit more tannin than it did a couple of years ago...and a bit more than the 1998 and 2000. But it still has all the trademark elements--frank, open blueberry fruit with flowers, Provencal herbs and a very ripe finish. The trademark for me is a vanilla/honey/resin character that does not come from new oak barrels. (Sainte Anne wines are all produced in a reductive environment with stainless steel and concrete.) The stems and skins provide excellent structure, but they're ripe and round with no hard edges. And, as always, there is that strong core of berry fruit.

For my taste, the vanilla/honey element is a bit too prominent and one-dimensional, but that's part of the Sainte Anne Cotes du Rhone personality. The Cotes du Rhone Villages, which comes from older vines and sells for a couple dollars more, is more elegant with less vanilla and more crushed berry smells and flavors. I love both of them. But serious drinking starts with the Notre Dame and the Saint Gervais.


  1. How long do you plan to cellar the St. Gervais and the Notre Dame, Fred?

    I had a 2003 Beauchene CdR Premier Terroir tonight. This is the wine where I have some of the Chateauneuf as well. Really nice fig, licorice, pencil shavings aroma when its opened, more deep berry flavors with a bit of air. Light on its feet, phenomenal structure. Good brick color at the edges, and the tannins (Possibly just stems) have settled in beautifully. I'll look for more, of course.

    Also opened a 2007 Roc-Epine Lirac. Completely shut down. I'll give it a couple days.


  2. Oh, I'm sure the Notre Dame and Saint Gervais are ready to drink. All of these wines will keep well, though, because they weren't exposed to much air when they were made. And they are more likely than the CDR and CDR Villages to improve over the next decade. I drank the 1996 and 1997 Notre Dame and Saint Gervais up until about age 10 or 12, and they showed no sign of decline.

    The Saint Gervais is the one I'll be most patient with because I really like mature Mourvedre.

    Last night, I tried Les Trois Couronnes Gigondas and Suzeau Cotes du Rhone--both 2007. They were both very good. I also had another go at the 2007 Delas Saint Esprit, which was even more impressive than before. It was at the Kalamazoo Food and Wine Tasting event, and I noted many other tasters enthralled with the Saint Esprit.

  3. Eric, here's a link to some information about Domaine Sante Anne:

    As it mentions, the 1986 Notre Dame and Saint Gervais can be purchased at the estate. So I presume they are drinking nicely. And 1986 was not a good S. Rhone vintage.