If I had opened this wine last week, it would have been my Wine of the Year for 2012. And I seriously doubt I will encounter anything in the next 12 months to match it.
Corinne Couturier took over Rabasse Charavin from her father, Robert Charavin, in 1985 and has been crafting some of the best wines in the Southern Rhone since that time. Cuvee Estevenas is her top Cairanne offering, with 80% of the juice coming from Grenache vines 100 plus years of age. The rest is Syrah from vines 25 to 30 years of age. The grapes get excellent exposure to the southern sun for complete ripeness and concentration. Cuvee Estevenas, like all of Couturier's wines, is made traditionally in enamel-lined stainless steel and bottled unfined and unfiltered.
The color is very dark cherry, still bright and youthful. Even though I didn't decant the wine, as the domaine suggests to release all of the nuances, the bouquet is beautifully deep and broad--very old viney. Leather, anise, dried and fresh fruits. Like some of my favorite Chateauneufs du Pape, it has the compactness of a rich fruit cake--deep, deep layers of smells and flavors. On the palate, the wine is surprisingly fresh with delicate red berry flavors from front to back. A haunting kind of elegance that comes only from a special wine that has been well aged. An hour later, the wonderful flavors are still lingering in my memory as well as my tongue.