Domaine Grand NicoletRasteau | Rhône Valley
Just north, up the road from Gigondas, you’ll find the sun-drenched southern hills of Rasteau and the generations-old family farm of Grand Nicolet.
Here old-vine Grenache takes on a darker, sultrier demeanor, with notes of pepper and licorice. Yet like in other particularly sun-rich areas in the Rhône Valley (think Cornas), it is only the savviest growers who can capture Rasteau’s heady concentration and suave complexity at once. This is why Grand Nicolet is such a serious find in the southern Rhône!
One of the founding family cellars of Rasteau, Grand Nicolet got its start in 1875 when Joseph Nicolet tended just over two acres of vines in the village. Winemaking in earnest began in the 1920s, and through the decades, the domaine grew as winemaking duties were passed from father to son and daughter.
Today, winemaker Jean-Pierre Bertrand tends over 70 acres of vines, many of which are Rasteau’s oldest, by hand. These are honest wines, aged mostly in cement tank, that showcase the rich fruit of the south with a spiced energy that make them far too easy to drink.
FARMING & WINEMAKING
Family holdings total some 71 acres, the majority in Rasteau with about eight acres in Sablet. The soils of Rasteau are predominantly limestone and clay, with unique veins of blue marne, which is said to give Rasteau wines their structure and complexity. In contrast, Sablet combines more sand with limestone, for wines that are lighter in body, and generally more red-fruit dominant.
Winemaker Jean-Pierre Bertrand cares for his land sustainably, avoiding chemical treatments and following organic practices as much as the growing season allows. The average age of vines at the estate is 45 years, with some very-old vine Grenache pushing 80 years old.
Grapes are harvested by hand, with sorting both in the fields and at the cellar door. Grapes are generally destemmed, and fermented on indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled, cement vats. Depending on the wine, aging takes place either in cement vat or older French oak barrels.
Côtes du Rhône Rouge
A supple, juicy and spiced red blend from the sun-kissed hills of Rasteau and Sablet, this Côtes du Rhône is a serious cut above — in quality and in price. A new favorite!
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Rasteau Vieilles Vignes
All the concentrated power of old-vine Rasteau fruit with an added layer of silk and freshness that makes this wine a serious challenger for Chateauneuf’s crown. A simply bountiful, beautiful red that will only continue to shine in a cool cellar.
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Winemaker: Jean-Pierre Bertrand
Region: France • Rhône Valley • Rasteau
Vineyard size: 71 acres
PRACTICING SUSTAINABLE FARMING
Located in Rasteau, Domaine Grand Nicolet is run by Jean-Pierre Bertrand … These are terrific wines across the board, and this estate is certainly in the top tier of Rasteau producers.—Jeb Dunnuck