Steve Edmunds, one of my favorite New World winemakers, says that Rocks and Gravel--a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah--"has always been inspired by the lovely, sunny red wines grown in the South of France, and these days it may be hard to distinguish from the real thing." By the "real thing," I am assuming that Edmunds is referring to Chateauneuf du Pape, and this wine is truly very close, in some ways, even more appealing than a fine Chateauneuf du Pape.
It has all the peppery, spicy, sea salt goodness of a middle-aged Chateauneuf. This Rocks and Gravel, though, is now 15 years old, and showing younger than the two Chateauneufs from 2000 I had last week (2000 Mas Boislauzon and 2000 Pierre Usseglio). Younger, more vibrant fruit but still plenty of the secondary characteristics to be expected from a CdP. More Mourvedre than Syrah in the blend, I suspect. Violets, lavender, a pleasing touch of Mourvedre barnyard. Reminds me of Bois du Boursan or Vieux Telegraphe. But the strong cherry/berry fruitiness reminds me even more of Domaine Sainte-Anne Saint Gervais. Actually, no comparisons are needed; this is Edmunds St. John Rocks and Gravel--a well made wine sourced from well selected vineyards in Paso Robles, Mendocino and El Dorado.