At 11 years of age, this modestly labeled and priced Cotes du Rhone is finally showing signs that it intends to mature. And a very fine maturity it is going to be. The color has lightened a little but is still a deep, brilliant ruby nearly all the way to the rim. This wine was clearly exposed to a minimal amount of oxygen during the winemaking process. The developing maturity shows most in the nose, as the primary fruit aromas that were still there as recently as last Spring begin to merge into a more complex bouquet of red fruits, garrigue and spice. The wine has a satiny mouthfeel, and the bouquet repeats itself in the lush flavors. There is a just a touch of black peppercorn creeping in, but the overall impression is sweet and the finish, long. This wine is still very similar to the 2005 and 2004 Sainte-Anne Cotes du Rhones but with emerging complexity that should become increasingly apparent over the next year or two.
Sainte-Anne's Cotes du Rhone has the same blend as the estate's Cotes du Rhone Villages--60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Cinsault. The only difference is that the simple CDR comes from young vines with an average age of 20 years. (In California, those "young" vines might be considered "ancient.") Domaine Sainte-Anne's wines are fermented and aged in stainless steel and concrete, seeing no new oak. They have a reputation for long aging, and several cuvees of the 1986 are still being sold at the winery.
I've been buying the domaine's wines since the early 1980s when they were recommended in the writings of Rhone expert Robert Mayberry. Only since the 1998 vintage have I tried cellaring them for longer than a decade, and so far I have not been disappointed.