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The Wines

50% Grenache (oldest 1929, most 1975), 35% Cinsault (1952-54, 1960s, 1982, 1992), 15% Syrah (1945-48), whole crushed bunches, 10-day vinification, 3-4 months in enamel vats, then aged 40% old 550, 60% 450-litre casks (Grenache, Syrah) or large barrel (Cinsault) 12 months, unfined, filtered, 10-12,000 b


1) Cinsault (600-litre used cask, 35% of the wine) ***** fine red robe, a pale top. This has a cracking nose, spice and cloves, strawberry jam Little Scarlet. There is a live attack on the outer, it’s suave on the inner, and comes with much character, spiciness, a sappy texture, and a neat finale. You want more of this! It is ace, a real runner. It combines florality with the pleasure of sustained, delicious red fruit, its gras natural. Fab wine. 21-23 years 2) Grenache (600-litre used cask) ****(*) red robe, a fine appearance. The nose comes with serene, joli red fruit, has Grenache kindness, a little smoke and spice. Plum and strawberry are in the frame, mineral tingle. The attack is spiced, fleshy and suave, very calm, with some inner power. This is tremendously aromatic, floral – roses in my garden. It is fluid, rolling, precise, from another age. The balance is OK, and it is notably long, with a succulent, tasty end. 28 years. The harvest of this ended on my birthday, 30 October, 2016, and today, Friday 13 October, 2017, Emmanuel is receiving me in shorts – not the case in my youth when visiting his grandfather Louis! OVERALL ***** this will be handsome and beguiling, quite a combination. 2041-44  Oct 2017

2014 ()

Cinsault (600-litre used cask, 35% of the wine) ****(*) fine, pale red robe, as per usual. Has a spiced, lively, genuine nose with coulis of red fruit in support. This moves fluently along the palate, again comes with spice and a tasty insistence. A gloved hands wine. It is subtle, and very, very good – it is delicate but well made, so it nets out as persistent, striking and aromatic. One of the best Cinsaults I have had here over the years. “It has lots of acidulé (slightly acid) red fruits,” Emmanuel Reynaud. 17 years. Grenache (600-litre used cask, 50% of the wine) ****(*) pale red. The nose gives firm, stealthy red fruit, has an engaging red jelly fruit quality, is smoky. The palate delivers a free run of red, spiced fruit, with cosy tannins at the end. Another wine here with strength from within. The tannins are fresh, grainy, live. It finishes with some concentration. 20 years. OVERALL: ****(*) a great contribution from the Cinsault this year: hence the wine will be extremely stylish, should have a real wow factor in its finesse and understated length and persistence. 2034-36  Oct 2015


fine, pale red robe. Has a spiced, perfumed nose, comes with gentle strength, leads on flowers, dried pot pourri with strawberry neatly tucked in. The attack is restrained, but the inner force is there, with a tannic crunch towards the finish. This glides along, but there is “steel” within. Despite the travails of the Grenache this year, the assemblage has the same proportions as usual. It has brightness and cut, and extends with a sure, clear hand. The aftertaste is aromatic. “It is a bit too acidulé (slightly acid) for me. It was cold and humid, a Burgundian year; we ended our harvest very late, on 30 October. We lost 70% - there were a lot of grapillons – left over bunches that didn’t ripen,” Emmanuel Reynaud. Take your time with this: from 2022-23. 2038-40  Oct 2015

2012 ()

Cinsault (450-litre used cask, 35% of the wine) ****(*) the usual pale red robe; has a becoming nose that is peppery, shows red fruit jam airs, leaves a long trail of scent. The palate proffers a good ping of clarity, precise fruit, a line of approach that is clear as crystal, toothsome. The aftertaste brings in strawberry, spice. Attractive, very clear. 14-17 years. Grenache (600-litre used cask) *****(*) steady red; there is a hum of southern ripeness in the red plum fruit aroma, a rose-hip, cherry liqueur top note. The palate is round, sealed, bears attractive fruit with a grainy tannin. It lingers in an aromatic, tasty way on the finish. Its tannins have quiet strength, steel. There is a good couch of matter to the wine here, and it is long, too. Has character, plenty of promise. 18 years. OVERALL ****(*) Strong quality Fonsalette, with the ping and clack of the clarity to the fore, a wine of ultimate finesse. A slow developer. Try from 2018, decant it and enjoy its poised red fruit, delicacy present. 2029-31  Nov 2013

2011 ()

Cinsault (450-litre used cask, 35% of the wine) **** mid-red; red jam, rich, peppery air. This gets into its stride right away – this is clean, uplifting and lengthens well and freshly, has notes of licorice. There is a pepper flourish on the finish. 15-17 years. Grenache (600-litre used cask) ***** low-key red colour. Sunnily ripe, sweet and rounded, scented red fruit, full-on strawberry aroma. The palate starts on a fat gras, is very ripe and concentrated. Sturdy tannins fit in well. It widens at the end. Dense and very persistent. Wait for this. 16-20 years. “You have the impression this year of having taken the grapes straight out of the vat when drinking the wine,” Emmanuel Reynaud. OVERALL ****(*) I would be patient – from 2016-17, worth the wait. Good, rich heart here. 2028-31. “Our 2011 crop is down 20% on the 2010 figure,” E.Reynaud. Dec 2012


Cinsault (450-litre used cask) ****(*) fine red; overtly spiced, “up” aroma that is ripe enough to have meaty undertones. Juicy, free flow palate that holds quiet gras, is prettily scented with flowers. Very free, engaging, adds character to the final assemblage. Has a textured finale, is long. “It adds a lot of elegance and finesse, and provides the easy drinking, croquant, side of the wine. I glass of this on its own with a casse-croute, a snack lunch, is enough,” Emmanuel Reynaud. 17 years. Grenache (600-litre used cask) ***** fine, pale red; sleepy, beckoning nose of fine quality, with a feathery pepper top air, and classy, mild red jam underneath, fruit paste. The palate is speckled, pebbly, attractive gras inside it, with the outer peppered. It takes on fine tannins that have clear direction. There is a grouping of pepper and freshness on the end, some intrinsic power. There is a lot of structure in this Grenache. 20 years. “It is a cupboard in an old house, this Grenache; it has a lot of personality this particular cask,” Emmanuel Reynaud. OVERALL ***** willowy, seductive wine, its light touch of special attraction. Like a sultry post-Revolution courtesan's voice, one can only succumb. 2030-32 Dec 2011

2009 ()

Cinsault (600-litre used cask) ***(*) pretty, full red robe. Rich, red jam air on the nose, with good smoky depth in it. The palate is full of richness, and rolls out a good display of fruit, is peppery and clean-cut at the end. Good, weighty, too. It is fine, and also has good, tight qualities, is long. Grenache I (600-litre used cask) ***** pretty red; soft red fruits aroma, curves well, a sympa opening with local baked stones, herb influences. Very beau, intense Grenache here on the palate; it ends on a climax of some burn, but can take care of that with a few years. Real good quality Grenache, yo! Good length, pebbly late tannins. 18-20 years. OVERALL looks like at least ****(*) a cracking year with the Grenache half of the wine an absolutely storming foundation. Interesting that it is almost as if the Grenache vines were compensating after the light 2008. 2029-31 Oct 2010


Cinsault (cask) ***(*) light robe; peppery nose, bright and airy. Pretty, quietly sustained Cinsault red fruit, quince – has its typical pepper thread all through, and the length is sound. Nice late width here. Good quiet gras or richness, length. Very aromatic. 12+ years. Grenache (large 25 hl barrel this year, since there was so little wine, 70% was lost) *** pale robe; gentle cherry fruit roundness in the bouquet – the ripeness is fair, but its depth isn't really secure – and there are some nutty, raisin airs as well. Scented notes early on the palate, which is a bit fragile. It continues quietly, shows a touch of sweetness late on. Is rather dilute, but fine wine. 11-12 years. OVERALL the role of the Cinsault important this year, with the Grenache struggling for depth. Aromatic wine, give it time, serve with mild flavoured foods. To 2019-20. Dec 2009

2007 ()

pretty red robe; gently smouldering red fruit aroma, discreet floral airs. The palate takes its time, is not showing openly, but possesses belle matter. There is a good core to this, it rolls on, has a beefy finish. Many elements and secure future ahead here. “It has not changed much. We are now in a full moon period, so floating fruits more than profound ones are out and about. I would leave this 10 years to find the assemblage we made,” Emmanuel Reynaud. From 2012. 2023-25 Dec 2009 Previously Nov 2008 *** Cinsault (cask) **** bright red ; peppery, pretty red fruit nose. There is a nice, wee red jam beckoning on the palate, with a typical Cinsault pepper and fresh lacing. It ends tightly. Has a rich redcurrant jelly end, with sucrosity in it. Pepper here is very apparent. Grenache (cask) ***(*) pale red; strawberry jam and some herbs – the aroma is medium depth. Has a cherry flavour, is light, and a touch bitter late on. There is quiet power and muscle here, it's a pure wine, somewhat deceptively so. OVERALL: certainly a wine of charm, with even the Cinsault ripe as a nut. 14 years or so. Nov 2008


gentle red robe; the aroma bears nicely sunny red fruits – red cherry jam – and is sweetly beguiling. The palate`s red jam fruit is clear-cut and agile, carries well and leaves lingering aromatic red fruits late on. The fruit is pretty, and the wine has a sweet munificence – nothing overdone. Good with white meats and similar dishes of some refined content. 2022-24 Nov 2008 Previously Nov 2007 ***(*) Cinsault in barrel: a sound *** clear red; peppery nose with pretty roundness. A bonny, red fruits palate – stone fruit with a little clarity of expression. It is peppery, without excess, and has a quietly-toned shape. Grenache in 550-litre cask: **** pale red; round, red jam nose. Grippy, red stone fruit attack, with good tannic content in a low register. The flavour is of plum tart, with a good couch of kirsch and licorice at the end. Promising, has the typical estate clarity. Drink Fonsa red from around 2010 on this showing, can live for 16+ years. **** wine. Nov 2007


bright, dark red, a good robe. Pretty layering of red fruit aromas on the nose, which is stylish, and has ways to go; I get the sense of wild strawberries. Peppery, probing red fruit on the palate, with dark, tar, prune, black raisin elements after half way. The aftertaste is tarry. Decant to free up this locked up nose. The palate is just starting to show gras on the attack, has a soft sweetness. Lots to come. After two hours: it is darker, more structured = a long way to go. 14°. 2028-30  June 2011  Previously June 2006 **** Cinsault in barrel: ***(*) lightly peppered red jam aroma ; the palate has a good strike of peppery fruit with a jam interior. Is solid for a Cinsault, there is more matter than usual, the fruit is less flighty, and is profound and gummy. Cooked peppers on the aftertaste. ‘The Cinsault is fabulous this year’, E.Reynaud. Grenache in 550-litre cask: ***(*) notably ripe, jam tints on the nose, with violets, too. The palate is rich, and easy to drink. This is a fruit forward wine, with some sound tannin inside. The fruit is like red pastilles. June 2006

2004 ()

a red robe that is bright at its centre, attractive, clear and inviting. Peppery, floral and spice aromas, great variety – includes licorice, rosemary, dates, figs. Certainly not modern, and very much hand made. Nicely loose debut to the palate, offers an easy run of peppery fruit, moves into brioche baked bread territory. Very fine acidity, notable support. There is a flavour of tobacco, then the supreme acidity expresses a glorious finesse. It is such a pleasure to drink an unruffled, authentic wine. It is enjoyable on its own, or with pork from the Lozère, or with cabillaud (cod). I have given it 4.5 stars, but its pleasure was 5 stars of pure delight. 2018-20 July 2011 Previously June 2006 ***(*) (two days before bottling) scented, herbal aroma that is stylish and vivacious, prompted by formidable (French word) light spice. Very good fruit with cut in it on the palate, the freshness is lovely, the tannins are supple. This is now back to form. Esp 2008 on. 2019-21 June 2006

2003 ()

Cinsault in barrel : peppery nose of some depth ; nice white pepper flavouring here, its richness is delivered discreetly. Good basic substance to the wine. Grenache in 550-litre cask : sound red fruits on a compact bouquet of some weight. Peppery palate that is a bit agitated. This is quite beefy in its depth, has some richness on show now, its length is fair. Hard to judge its life potential today. March 2004

2002 ()

(tank, pre-bottle) pale robe ; pebbly bouquet, with some brambly red fruits. It is not especially fresh, and is quite ripe in its way. There is a degree of width on the palate, a little richness within. Some chewiness late on, pepper-tinged. Length is fair. A light wine this year, that fades towards the finish. 2010-12 March 2004

2001 ()

has a thick ruby robe, still in good shape, the centre deep. The bouquet draws you in well, offering smoky, peppered, nutmeg spicing at its heart, a depth of plum fruit, and very appealing Grenache fat. The palate proceeds with a fascinating stewed red fruits flavour, with something of a feral note in it, a game notion, then takes on a clear tang, a fine grain cut, as it ends. Its tannins beam a curvy, textured smile before the grain comes along. Very long, very sustained, this would be lovely with a roast leg of lamb, partridge, feathered game. There is a spiced, calm roundness at the end and a wee note of dryness within, that would be taken care of by suitable dishes. Sophisticated wine. 14°. 2025-26  Nov 2013, London  Previously Feb 2005 **** sound enough red robe. Red fruit aroma with a peppery fringe, is rounded and refined. The pepper element is prominent, also garrigue herbs. Decent, live fruit on the palate, has a pebbly, live texture. Gains weight and width along the palate, also support from ripe tannins. Interesting. Has finer tannin than it appears. It is fine and drinkable now, still en jeunesse, youth. Esp from 2007-08 for second stage variety. Lovely clear fruit, cherry style. Good length, would do well with dishes such as veal. 2018-20 Feb 2005

2000 ()

this needed decanting: before then, it was compact, even a bit singed on the palate. The robe is interesting – has a ruby top and a coffee-coloured, plum middle. Has a smoky plum air, a lot of smoke, coffee grain here. Has a grilled, dusty, very natural air. It is full, but not over the top, shows a firm air of pine. The outer palate is bosky, the inner bears cooked plum, rather fat. This combines a note of rose, white pepper, is a decent wine whose red fruit is a bit stretched. 14°. 2023-24 Dec 2011, Restaurant Alonso, Sorgues

1999 ()

the nose has tension in it, cooked red fruits, a fungal air hovering also. The palate pushes out its red fruits, that come with a true and good richness. Ends on its often found white pepper note, with a dry area there. This is a wine of reserve and structure, taking its time. It would have benefited from decanting, and could rate a little higher. 2018-20 March 2007

1998 ()

pretty, very stylish nose with traces of flowers, cinnamon and licorice, marked by striking freshness. Tight and not all obviously southern, has tastes of dried fruits, plum. The length is good, the aftertaste aromatic. There is a welling-up of peppery Grenache, a real slow revelation with air. Very beau, very stylish, super and classic wine. Interesting pebbly tannins at the end. 2026-29 Oct 2010 Previously April 1999 Cinsault, barrel) *** steady red; the bouquet red fruits are very ripe, the palate fruits are rich for Cinsault, good and promising. “We harvested a bit later in 1998 as a policy,” E.Reynaud. Grenache, barrel, malo not yet done ** the nose is low-key, obscure, not sure how clean; the palate fruit is violet, floral. Firm, even mature red and black fruits of some density. Raw materials here, but need to fuse and be completely brought together. April 1999

1997 ()

(Cinsault, barrel) nicely rounded, attractive wine that is quite sweet, ends well, has good core. Late burst of pepper. Grenache, barrel: cherry ade aroma, charming, less depth than the Rayas Grenache. Attractive matter on the palate, good length, final little tannic chew, and a sweet note late. “It wasn`t there two months ago,” Emmanuel Reynaud. Grenache, 600-litre cask nice ball of fruit on nose; supple tannin after a fruited start to palate. 12-15 year wine, lots of wavy, textured appeal. Oct 1998

1996 ()

(Cinsault, vat, 25 hl of it, “quite a big quantity this year; we started on 3 October”, Jacques Reynaud) fair red colour. The nose is peppery, has decent depth. There are good peppery flavours in a rather lively palate, and a sound push through to the finish. There is a fine, quiet roundness on the finish that features black pepper. It resides well on the aftertaste. “The colour isn’t very big this year,” Jacques Reynaud. 15-17 years. Oct 1996

1995 ()

(Cinsault, 450-litre cask) attractive purple with bits of red colour. The nose is nicely ample, gives red berry fruit with appeal. This more rounded on the palate than the 1996, more complete. It carries agreeable, tight fruit. The finish is discreet. (Grenache, 450-litre cask) ****(*) medium red robe. The nose is pretty deep, if a bit quiet, reserved. The palate offers lots of flavour, real width, and a tremendous final flourish of flavour. Lovely wine. 14.5°. From 2000. 2012-15 Oct 1996

1994 ()

fair red colour, reasonable darkness in it. The nose is dense and dark-fruited, comes with good, quite richness, airs of cooked dark fruits. The influence of the Syrah comes through on the palate. The flavours of black fruits are intense and firm, and it persists well. This is a big wine of nearly 15°. It’s very good, a real winner. From 1999-2000. 2013-16 Oct 1996

1982 ()

matted, decent red robe. Stone fruit, prune aroma, nice sweetness and a slight evolution towards being tired. But it is well modelled, beau, has floral topping. Warm fruit on palate, dry edges from three-quarters of the way onwards. It tires a little after its early flourish. Gets dusty at the end, its red fruit is now fragile. Drink this up. Feb 2005


served blind at Les Domaines Wine Bar, state of the art, in Avignon by patron Christophe Tassan. This shows a little more red in the robe than the Rayas 1981, is good and clear. The nose has a lurking power, is rather velveteen, alcohol showing in it. It is slow to come forward, even after 12 years, extraordinary for a Côtes du Rhône, though this isn’t your usual CdR. The palate bears gras on the attack, is full of round extract, cooked plums and prunes in the flavour. There is a touch of heat on the finish. It isn’t showing as much as it could today. I think there is Syrah in this: it gains richness as it breathes and it also softens and develops well after two hours. 2003-05  July 1991


darker robe than the Beaucastel 1981 drunk with it – a full red, with dark traces. Curious, rich nose – cardboard, red cherry – it is fresh and very concentrated. The palate is tight, incredibly young, has a lot of tannic structure. The nutted, red fruit runs liberally across and along it, has good momentum. Lovely crisp, brisk wine that is fruity and like a 10-year, not a 31 year old. After 90 minutes: it has slipped off its red fruit ledge to a more earthy level on the nose, with violet there as well. Good black fruits, sweet prune on the palate. The length is good – it really extends. Ends firmly. To 2019. Drunk with Steven Spurrier – “my only bottle, which came from the Caves de la Madeleine all those years ago.” Remarkable, inspiring wine. June 2009

1974 ()

the robe is a matt-hued red, with very pale brick at the top. The bouquet gives nice, soft damp leaves airs, a vegetal angle, no doubt from the stems in this tricky vintage. The palate is well softened, richness still there in quantity. There is a coffee bean aspect on the finish. This resembles a lighter Burgundy from the Côtes de Beaune. The house elegance is present as usual. 1992-94 drunk the 26 Jan 1985


dark, strong red colour. The nose gives a big blackcurrant aroma of great finesse, a beautiful softness. This is really strongly flavoured on the palate, with still some kick in it. The finish is long. “It has blossomed,” Louis Reynaud. Château Rayas, 20 Nov, 1974