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The Wines

100% Grenache, whole crushed bunches, 8-10 day vinification that can go to 15 days in concrete vats, very fine daily pumping overs, 2-3 months in enamel vats, then aged old 550-litre casks 12 months, unfined, filtered, 13-15,000 b

2017

1) Rayas II (450-litre cask, setting sun, S-W facing, 150 metres from RIII, 2nd plot picked) with Rayas III (450-litre used cask, the heart from sand, with very little clay, just behind the cellars, oldest 1974, 1982-92 Grenache, the heart of the Grenache, last plot picked, this is 50% of its harvest this year) ***** bright red; The bouquet is poised, gives floral airs, delicious refinement, has a curvaceous, come hither. The palate shows more darkness than the nose, holds 2017 concentration that accumulates, ending on dusky tannins, assertion, date and spice, rich filling present. The finish shows the cool nights of late October. This carries a knuckled intensity, and absolutely no heat on the finish. This has the structure for the final wine. “2017 is atypical – you can find the terroir in a lots of years early on, but this was harvested late, then de-vatted in January, so is effectively two to three months behind a normal year. I will leave it longer than usual in its raising – it needs time to get together, and I also don’t want empty casks with so little 2018 crop,” Emmanuel Reynaud. 2) Rayas I (used 450-litre cask, rising sun, 1973 Grenache opposite the cellars, first picked, with Rayas III (450-litre used cask, the heart from sand, with very little clay, just behind the cellars, oldest 1974, 1982-92 Grenache, the heart of the Grenache, last plot picked, this is 50% of its harvest this year) ****** bright red robe. The nose is deeply seated, not obvious, but fragrant, bears raspberry-strawberry airs, cooked plums, is inviting. The palate is elegant and continuous, ofeers gourmandise big time, has a very full heart, is more flamboyant than the first blend of II and III. This puts me in mind of a sunny vintage Syrah from the Côte Blonde at Côte-Rôtie, the fragrance and red-fruit detail. It wells up from inside. This is mighty. “2017 is a vintage you only make once in your life. The wine will live for over 40 years,” Emmanuel Reynaud. 2056-58 Oct 2018

2016

Rayas III (450-litre used cask, the heart from sand, with very little clay, just behind the cellars, oldest 1974, 1982-92 Grenache, the heart of the Grenache, last plot picked) ***** red robe, pale and attractive. There is restrained intensity on the nose, which is clear, with chalk-rocks airs, carries good potential. The palate presents mixed red fruits, with nerve and good cut, mineral; it takes on pebbly tannins. It is interesting, not evident – there is a Chantilly lace eave here, intricacy. The finish is like eating rocks, sandstone. This is only for the informed. From 2023. 32 years. Rayas II (450-litre cask, setting sun, S-W facing, 150 metres from RIII, 2nd plot picked) ****** fine red robe. The nose is elegant, on the curve, has great harmony, and sunbeams in the glass, red fruits, strawberry. The palate is fresh and well directed, with good spine, a real good centre it has. It finishes with perfumed red fruits, their juice profound. It has good grip, good balance, very good length. This is most interesting, cerebral wine. 36 years. Rayas I (used 450-litre cask, rising sun, 1973 Grenache opposite the cellars, first picked) ****** red robe, good heart. Has a curvy, nicely bountiful aroma, strawberry, small red fruits of extreme purity on display; there is strength and inner power, depth. There is a hint of leather, and it is closely sealed. The palate is rich, right away, wholesome, glides on its richness, is very full, not one iota of chink in its fabric. The Little Scarlet strawberry is spiced, and it finishes with a flourish, a leap towards the stars. The aftertaste is floral, spiced. Lots of detail, variety here. Crazy high quality and character here. “It is very profound, very serious,” Emmanuel Reynaud. What a crescendo across the three plots. From 2027. 2054-56 Oct 2017

2015

pale red. Has a sweet-noted bouquet, cooked figs, spices, cinnamon, brandy cake. There is a soft, gracious attack, a palate that offers rich, thick gras with the sève or sap of old vines at its heart, unforced. Mightily classic Grenache plums and spice here, from fine soils, old vines, is a tremendous STGT wine, still very closed, but humming with silken richness delivered with a layered, stroking feel. Great finesse and truth, super length. It has the freshness of tiny red fruits, what the French call fruits acidulés. “It could have been a bit riper,” Emmanuel Reynaud. Two hours later, at dinner: the nose has a big ping of direct freshness. The palate is still upright – air has freshened it, and it’s very crystalline, with an implanted perfume, rose-hip. From 2025-26, say. 2051-55  Oct 2017

2014 ()

Rayas I (600-litre used cask) ****(*) very belle, pure red robe. The nose greets with perfumed, sultry airs, red berries with a glistening appeal; they have a floating, lovely elegance. There is a light note of licorice also. The palate gives a neatly concentrated attack, the redcurrant fruit surrounded by smoky, grainy tannins, a nuttiness from them. One can see the sands providing this calm strength and purity to the wine. It ends on pez sweets, fine tannin – the finish is in very safe hands. This is a vintage with a serene calm, but definite inner strength. Rayas II and Rayas III are not being shown since they haven’t yet finished their sugars! 2041-43  Oct 2015

2013 ()

fine red robe. The nose is marked by serenity and a sure depth of red fruit, fine little red berries and strawberry in the picture. The palate concentrates via its nuggety ball of red berry fruit, with a grippy line of tannin, real attitude there. The tannins have a little greenness, vegetal. This needs time to become an ensemble. It peeks out an offer for now. The fruit and content are steady and firm, and the length is there. It is a solid, different Rayas this year. The finish brings in gras, and is encouraging overall. It is about 15°. Bottled June 2015. “It needs a minimum of another eight years,” Emmanuel Reynaud. From 2023. 2044-46  Oct 2015

2012

Rayas III ****(*) (450-litre cask, the heart, behind the cellars, fine sand) gentle red; the bouquet has an extra assurance over the 2012 Pignan, a bonny swoop of red berry, jam-like airs, an oily essence at it sheart. The palate commences on a knuckle of red fruit, with spice and clear dash through it. It ends on a vibrant red fruit, is full of dusty intrigue, flashes of licorice and dark tea also in tow. It is direct, clear for now, a slow gainer over time, with a definitely defined spinal column. From 2022. 27 years. Rayas II (600-litre cask, setting sun, S-W facing, 150 metres from RIII, 2nd plot picked) ****(*) medium red, quite pale. Has a bonny nose, a shiny openness about it, airs of wax, red fruits, light spice. The palate is sweet-noted, bears light red fruit juice, holds low-key gummy tannins that are well inserted, and spice and licorice; the bite of 2012 comes through as it ends. Interesting, complex, not obvious wine to summarise. It has a tannic grip, a couch of that on the finish. From 2021. 26-28 years. Rayas I (600-litre cask, rising sun, 1973 Grenache opposite the cellars, first picked) ***** a bit darker red than Rayas II; the nose is reserved, all together, closed-in, smoky, with a sense of reduction, but a good heart of little berry red fruit, red cherry eau de vie. This is sterling from the start, a wine of definite body, muscle, charm. It ends with compact, smoky cinders notes. This has tight acidity and content, and will form the engine room of the final wine, will play a very important role. “It is the vertebral column that will bring the wine together,” Emmanuel Reynaud. From 20122. 28 years. OVERALL ***** this is going to be a long, steady stayer, a wine that will take its time. Its base content is excellent, really full, and the word “intrigue” springs to mind as a future associate. Not worth breaking into before 2021 or so. 2039-42  Nov 2013

2011

Rayas III (600-litre cask, the heart, behind the cellars, fine sand) ***** pale red; the nose is subtle, promising, stylish, gives a delicate distribution of spice and herbs, with a full inset. The palate has a shapely start, a flavour of plum and strawberry, spiced. It has more grain in its tannins Pignan. The ending is very dark, marked by a spice explosion, taste of dates. It is fresh, and its acidity and grain go very well together at the end. It lingers aromatically. “Very delicate fruits,” Emmanuel Reynaud. 26 years. Rayas II (450-litre cask, setting sun, S-W facing, 150 metres from RIII, 2nd plot picked) ****** a paler red than RIII; violet and peony-floral air, shimmer of licorice on an elegant nose, is largely closed, but has great future style, The palate debut is rich, concentrated, has real, layered concentration. This has stately presence, real good crunched redcurrant, and a grainy finish, which is long, sustained. 27 years. Rayas I (450-litre cask, rising sun, 1973 Grenache opposite the cellars, first picked) ***** red with some depth. Smoky, breezy, pepper air – an expressive, well-knit nose of potential – its strawberry fruit is full. It is subdued, but accurate and well-defined. This is fine step wine, with lurking power and kick as it goes. Has close-knit, tangy tannin with cut, a wiry strength. The length is cautious now. 27 years. OVERALL maybe it should be ****** because there are no other wines of this stature this year. Remarkable 2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, quite remarkable, stirring wine in the context both of the vintage and its peer domaines. Has flair and depth and will be a sizzling pleasure. I came away reeling from my tasting, so vivid was its impression. Bravo, Emmanuel. “There is great purity in 2011. It was complicated, a very irregular year.” Emmanuel Reynaud. 2038-40  Dec 2012

2010

the three equal proportions tasted in cask Dec 2011: Rayas III (600-litre cask) ***** the heart from sand, with very little clay, just behind the cellars, oldest 1974, 1982-92 Grenache, the heart of the Grenache, last plot picked: lustrous, bonny red robe. Plum fruit depth on the palate – the nose comes in warm waves with flint stone and breeze to season it. The palate has stiffness as it starts, holds deep-seated red fruit with pepper and spice never far away. There is an attractive pockets of mid-palate gras richness, before a more straight floral-pepper exit, fine red fruit and white pepper combined. An interesting sculpture here, has not obvious fat. 27 years. Rayas II (450-litre cask, setting sun, S-W facing, 150 metres from RIII, 2nd plot picked) ****** nice clear red robe; reductive air but beyond that and across the nose it is plump, shows depth and has light airs of spice – it is fuller than RI. The palate has fat and restraint. It has a really good heart, and while it is careful, there is marked sustenance in it, and it is very long, ending clearly and completely, with a tang of flint, licorice. Good balance. 28 years. Rayas I (450-litre cask, rising sun, 1973 Grenache, first picked) ***** nicely simple red. Reduction features on the nose, with a spread across of pepper and capsicum in a gummy setting, has a founded bouquet. Red fruit with “wire” tension running through it features on the palate – there is a flinty spine, cut, rubbed, heated stones, but an underlay of quiet richness, even steel. It ends leaving the palate clear, tingling. This will be good in a blend. 23-25 years. OVERALL ***** one-third of each part will do just grand. It will take its time this year, will be a reserved wine. It is tight at first, with noticeable tannins. Worth a decent wait. It will be great around 2026, can live to 2042-45, well beyond my sell-by date. Has notable Grenache plum fruit, a real core to it. Dec 2011

2009

the three equal proportions tasted in cask Oct 2010: Rayas III (228-litre cask) ****** the heart from sand, with very little clay, just behind the cellars, oldest 1974, 1982-92 Grenache, the heart of the Grenache, last plot picked: great finesse, a lovely nose bearing gentle red cherry fruit aromas, plus a hidden depth. It is complemented by a stylish palate that comes with a fine, filigree touch. Raspberry and red fruits circulate. There is a lovely elegant richness across the late palate. A great drop of wine. 27 years. “this is the most accessible of our three parts,” Emmanuel Reynaud. Rayas II (600-litre cask, setting sun, S-W facing, 150 metres from RIII, second plot picked) ***** red robe; striking red fruits nose, with cocoa notes. Live, forward red fruit with tight tannins attached on the palate; has body and taut potential. Redcurrant flavour and freshness on the finish. Persistent, chewy style sign-off which is also peppery. A solid wine. 26 years. Rayas I ****** (rising sun, S-E facing, opposite the cellars, first plot picked) fine red robe; precise red cherry/berry airs in a reserved, compact nose that offers hints of richness. The palate is also compact, flinty. Has a tight red fruit, and is reticent, not floral or tender. This can contribute spine to the final wine. OVERALL ****** all 3 have very good red colours; there is great purity in all 3. Lots of life ahead, with a truly solid, authentic foundation. From 2017-18, maybe. To 2035-38 Oct 2010

2008

the three equal proportions tasted in cask Dec 2009: Rayas III (228-litre cask) **** soft red robe, pale top; there is a nice caress on the nose – offers refined red fruit, persists elegantly, shows the classic finesse, red berry. Discreetly plump start here, another gentle stroking for the palate. It takes on late acidity. Very aromatic, has light pebbly tannins that are a touch dusty. Needs 4 years to settle its acidity and smooth out, but is intrinsically serene. 17 years. Rayas II (600-litre cask) **** robe a little darkness, more than Rayas III. The nose is also more compact, gives well-knit redcurrant fruit, cherry. There is a firm delivery of red fruit with well-inlaid tannin on the palate. The fruit is attractively sweet, takes on a little pepper. Good heart for the final wine from this, the setting sun site. Fresh, clear finish, has width, is a good example of a lesser year. “It is more profound than Rayas III,” Emmanuel Reynaud. 16-18 years. Rayas I (450-litre cask) ***(*) quite bright Grenache red robe; slightly herbal, fine aroma with pepper – very good, traditional Grenache, air of red cherry fruit tart, dried cherries. The palate has a sweet note, good length, interesting freshness at the end. Quiet depth in this, with a well-set, rather solid width late on. It needs the most time of the three. “It has more acidity than Rayas II, is closed,” Emmanuel Reynaud. OVERALL **** a steady quality this year, an aromatic wine. Can live 18 to 21 years, say. “We had coulure (failure of fruit to set) spread equally across the terroirs this year, started about 20 September, and lost half the crop,” Emmanuel Reynaud. Dec 2009

2007

bright tone of red in the robe; the nose is loose, more varied than the Pignan 2007, floats well, is very broad. The palate is supple, starts in a charming manner, and shows a thorough heart of red fruit that is very Grenache, with stuffing and a fine group of tannins around it. Has a scented and aromatic aftertaste, very persistent it is, too. Is very, very silky, with the fruit fresh all through. Gentle flow on the aftertaste. “We should at the least have made a very beau wine with these quality grapes. It is typical Rayas, not like the 1995 and 2005 – it is fresh, there are lots of things in it, you can even entertain yourself with it now. It is more like 1989 and 1978, and I would wait 15 years for it,” Emmanuel Reynaud. 2037-40 Dec 2009 Previously Nov 2008 ****** the three equal proportions tasted in 600-litre cask Nov 2008: Rayas III ****(*) bright red with a pale rim; has a confident aroma, broad and fragrant, with a lot of potential. The red berry has a nice intensity, and there is a steady, ripe couch to it. There is bounding clarity in the palate fruit – it is aromatic, reflects red cherries, soaked cherries. It persists, and quietly coats the palate. Long lasting. It will come through in the mix after 20 years. “A lot of small fruits in this,” E.Reynaud. Rayas II ****** dark pockets in the red robe; The bouquet leads with a compact, tight red berry or cherry aroma and a slight note of liqueur about it. The palate also has a liqueur note, a taste of raspberry coulis, and there is an elegant flow of fruit that is rich, but never sticky or too sweet – it retains a reserved side. There is beautiful width, and the end is fresh, just a touch heated. Very good. 28-35 years. Rayas I ***** This will be the lead operator in the wine`s first 10 years: full red; strawberry, sweet and delicate aroma – there is a seductive curve in the bouquet. Red jam and pepper mingle on it. The palate holds tasty, supple fruit with a little tannic lining, and very good, continued grip. Classy, fine wine. There is good energy in the fruit, and the freshness is long. OVERALL ****** a very good, even great vintage in prospect, with abundant fruit and lovely finesse. Very complete wine, with enough tannin and freshness to live very well. Life of 28-35 years. Nov 2008

2006

red of some depth with plum at its middle. The bouquet spreads out gradually and evenly – there is an unfurling of its red berries with some violet in the air. This is a bonny, appealing nose. The palate holds concentrated, tight-knit red fruits. It is all as one now, a solid and compact affair. There is a lot of matter coating it, with intensity. The aftertaste is red jam, herbs, the garrigue there, also honey and toffee – a ripe innuendo. 15°. “Its acidity is closing it at the moment; I find it resembles 2004,” E.Reynaud. 2029-32 Nov 2008 Previously Nov 2007 the three equal proportions tasted in cask, overall ***** Rayas III ***** (cask – the heart from sand, with very little clay, just behind the cellars, 1982-92 Grenache, the last plot to be picked): red colour with a pretty tone. Cherry on the nose, with a lasting, also wide nature. Is sweet-toned, with the sweetness well-integrated. I can also sense a little “bone” or tannin in the aroma. The palate carries red fruit infused with a nutty, slightly raisin flavour. Is delicately broad late on: tannins pop out on the aftertaste, and leave a peppery, cinnamon aftertaste. The fruit is pretty ripe. It is nearly 15°, but the alcohol is well absorbed. From 2011. Rayas II ***** (cask – more clay, more substance, 1957-77 Grenache, the oldest vines): mild red colour; jam tones to bouquet, with a sure underlay. This aroma is less airy than Rayas III, and shows more sweet fruit, too. The palate red fruit comes in a compact and sealed form, with its delicate Garnacha red fruits such as red pastilles or fruit gums. The length is good, and I expect herbs to appear on the finish. From the setting sun, west end of the vineyard. Rayas I ***** (cask – the east end wine, from the rising sun, picked 2-3 days before the other two, 1978-86 Grenache): sound red robe; very perfumed bouquet, the most open of the 3, with live, raspberry tones. Good vivacity on the palate, with tasty young fruit. This is easy to drink, with a lot of freshness, and could even be drunk now, though that is a sacrilege given how it can develop. This is a very good contributor to the wine. Good, brisk, live fruit with collected tannins late on, good length and late richness. The best of the three: adds finesse and life with its clarity. OVERALL ***** a good vintage, no doubt. Hovers between a confirmed 5 and maybe 6 stars. Life of 20-25 years. The subtlety and quiet authority of Rayas are here. Nov 2007

2005

classic red robe with a light top. The bouquet resides quietly, has a red fruit jam air, with low-key spicing. It presents a picture of calm sun in the glass, the aroma tender and well extended, with spice and cinnamon, cumin, clove. It gains depth, constantly enriching, as it breathes. The palate debut is spiced, holds dark, smoky fruit. It builds its tannins as it ends, strikes firmly. There is a beau and finely tuned heart to this. The palate is notably spiced, has joli authority, the signature of a fresh vintage, which remains constant throughout. 2033-35  Oct 2015, at the Château  Previously Nov 2007 ***** some darkness at the heart of the plum red robe; the nose shows raspberry with a quiet, rich, on the liqueur trail tone to it, also black berries, and mulberry and plum. There is plenty to come. The palate has a rich, understated start. This is broad, and the richness travels widely and well. The length is good, the end is crisp. There is a touch of late pepper, and the tannins are very well integrated, are sealed right in with the red fruits. There is a good bit of lip smack at the finish. The palate still has a floral tone to it. Needs to be decanted in its youth, even though it is so rich. Nearly 15°. Hovers towards 6 stars. From late 2010. 2031-35. “It is rich but reserved at present,” E.Reynaud. Nov 2007 Previously the three equal proportions tasted in cask June 2006: Rayas III ****(*) (cask – the heart from sand, with very little clay, just behind the cellars, 1982-92 Grenache, the last plot to be picked): reserved nose, with quiet class, cherry, something of the seigneur about it. The palate starts with bonny fruit, and serious depth, with its tannins well wrapped inside it. It stretches out well along the palate, with a fine, elegant and delicate savoury tone. Holds interesting acidity, that is the prelude to a clear, fresh finish. Rayas II ***** (cask – more clay, more substance, from the setting sun, west end of the vineyard, 1957-77 Grenache, the oldest vines): honey aroma in a softer nose than Rayas III, with a raspberry air that is spiced, fuller than recent vintages. The palate is beau, and persists well. It is stylish and has good grain in it, and very good heart. There is a substantial underlay, and the tannins are ripe. A little ripe jam in the flavour. Great elegance here. Rayas I **** (cask – the east end wine, from the rising sun, picked 2-3 days before the other two, 1978-1986 Grenache): red robe; the nose is quiet, reserved, but discreetly solid, with some baked red fruit in it. The attack here is the most square of the 3 plots, with a round, spiced nature towards the finish. This can provide a good foundation for the wine, a good couch for it. OVERALL ****(*) a big year, of depth, a well-founded wine, without excess and very rounded in shape. I expect it to live 23-28 years and is a 5 star do. June 2006

2004

quite a red robe, not especially profound. Complex mix of violet, flowers and spice on the bouquet which is also carrying red fruits, and holds up well. The palate texture is silken, and the wine gains as it goes along the palate – there is a fine clarity of flavour and a clean, red fruits finish. Is a ‘tread lightly and elegantly’ wine. The balance is good and the fruit live, active. The tannins are ripe and add a little gummy side to the finish. Pretty good all round, needs some extra concentration to appreciate it. Esp 2009-10 on. 2027-30 tasted June 2006, was bottled May 2006

2003 ()

the three equal proportions tasted in cask March 2004 Rayas III strawberry fruit aroma in a classic Rayas-Grenache style; Light palate, with a fair only texture, that reflects pebbly stone fruits. The finale holds some floating acidity. Quite ripe, and just at the end does one notice the 15°, with the effect of young vines in this baked vintage there, and a dip in the richness. Rayas II more compact bouquet than III, a bit over mid-weight. Pretty attack, with a very good fruit thread that grows well through the palate. Can become silky. The length is sound. A wee bit of brambly, burnt fruit or tar at the finish. Very sound wine. Rayas I the nose is discreet and tight, shows some red fruits such as cherry and plum, and has potential. Good, silky palate that is very rounded and smooth of texture. Broadens towards the finish, its length and potential are good. Filigree wine with some hidden reserves. OVERALL ****(*) this is a good Rayas vintage, a little held back by the heat – witness the young vines cuvee Rayas III. Drink from 2008-09. It can live for 22-24 years. I give it ****(*). “The edges of the vineyards near the woods suffered from the drought this year, and unusually we blended grapes from different zones since some suffered from the drought. It was 42-43°C in the shade. We started to pick 8 September, a week ahead of usual,” Emmanuel Reynaud. March 2004

2002 ()

(tank, pre-bottling) pale robe; sweet coffee, light black jam and traces of pepper on the nose. The palate is nicely textured, is very suave and welcoming. Good supple tone to this. The red fruits hold some spice, cherry. Fair fat in this. It continues through the palate well, with a traditional style of flavour. Out on its own in style still, vis-à-vis les autres. Esp 2007 on. 2018-20 “2002 can be drunk younger than usual,” E.Reynaud March 2004

2001

classic Rayas red robe with a light top. The bouquet resides quietly, has a red jam fruit, low-key spicing. There is calm sun in the glass here, a tender and well-extended aroma that involves spice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin. The palate starts in a spicy, dark, smoky fruit offer. It builds its tannins as it ends, strikes firmly there. There is a handsome heart to this finely tuned Rayas, and it carries mystery and still unlocked potential. Decanting advised, it’s a real no hurry wine. 2032-34 Oct 2015 Previously Nov 2013 ***** bright ruby robe – this looks well. The bouquet is compelling – it gives a curvy roundness of spice, garrigue dust, thyme, plums, very ripe wild strawberries, tobacco and cigar box – what a mixed palette! The palate spreads its perfumed panoply with great delicacy, a true Rayas hallmark. A serene, textured wine from another age, if not another planet. There is a liberal scatter of floral, grain tannins at the end. It is all in roundness, with some spark to liven it, a 2001 imprint. The spicing on the palate flows around its mature Grenache heart. Long and fine, but with implicit southern power as well. 2031-33  Nov 2013  Previously Dec 2007 **** has the usual middle level red robe – its core being red, the top light. There is a white pepper-floral/rose mix on the bouquet, with touches of caramel notably, and raisin and sweet spice, maybe some stalkiness – it is unusual. The palate is restrained, if a bit limited: red fruits are delivered, with the Asian spice notes again. A wine of delicate tread, but lacks a middle focus. The texture is a big card – it is a soft caress, and the aftertaste of flowers and spice is long. It could be riper, but is beguiling because it so off the register. The flavour is scented, and it gains weight late on, expressed as a vanilla, spice duo. Runs on well with air, so decant this. 14°. 2022-24 Dec 2007, Copenhagen Previously Sept 2005 **(*) pale, dull-toned red. Bouquet shows spice, some mature red fruits from the garden, spice, white pepper trimming. Well-knit palate, in the light touch way of the château. Persists quietly. The red fruit is still rather angular, not yet rounded. Lacks real core, though. Flirts with complexity, maybe more nuance around 2008. "Pale wine", as has been the case recently. 2016-18 September 2005, London Previously February 2005 London **** mild red, not full to the top of rim. Red berry jam aroma, very clear and clean, with a lightly nutty twist - quite direct at this early stage, with a lurkng southern ripeness, inset and withdrawn as yet. Cautious attack, supple, rich red fruit with quiet tannic presence. Light, almost Burgundian alongside the usual Châteauneufs. Elegant, rounded texture, feathery richness, very fine and rounded all the way through, notably on the finish. More to it by 2009, there is some jasmin/rose later on. More grassy, pebbly after 3 hours. I still cannot find the old stuffing that used to be present, even discreetly. 2021-24 Feb 2005

2000 ()

very pale; elderflower, aromatic, floral bouquet – attractive. Sweet red jam, red berry flavour. The palate is tidy, has a nice grain, and it is pebbly, discreet towards the finish. Not a grandiose Rayas, as if Emmanuel is feeling his way. Lacks the usual box of tricks or mystery, some depth also. 2018-20 Nov 2002, Paris

1998

served blind at dinner at Rayas: fine red robe with a see-through top. The bouquet has inner sweet density, complete elegance, is lightly spiced, has a curvy aroma of red fruits, strawberry. There are multiple spice box prompts. It gradually thickens in the glass, having been opened at midday, and now it’s after eight in the evening. The palate is grainy all through, still making its way, builds strength, shows a vegetal touch towards the finish. There are rose hip, pot pourri influences on the palate, and a silky feel most of the way. It’s notably young at 20. It still kicks firmly on the finish – glows there. It probably needs leaving until 2023. “It’s still not open enough. It’s fine on the attack, carries red fruit, but for now there aren’t a lot of them,” Emmanuel Reynaud. 2044-46 Oct 2018 Previously April 1999 ****** Rayas III (20 hl, enamel vat) ****** good red colour; very fat nose - a lot there; there is also great mass on the palate; it is velvet with a mighty future ahead. It hasn't yet finished its fermentation, but is good already – a ripe, warm wine with tannins completely set inside it. Rayas II ***** (vat) darker than RIII; there is a lot of density on the nose, bits of spice and pine wood. The palate is very sound – shows darker flavours, blackberries, the length is good. More tannic than III – it is good, open, no secrets wine which will link well with RIII. Rayas I ****** (450-litre cask, there for 1 month now) delicate red colour; vigorous, lovely fruited nose. The palate is en finesse, with a touch of live acidity. There is very good wild strawberry fruit towards the finish, and a lovely aftertaste. OVERALL ****** most imposing, beautiful wine in prospect. A rare bounty, with harmony to the forefront, but the rarity of excellent, silken packing within as well – the symphony starts early this year, thanks to its great balance. 30-38 years?? April 1999

1997 ()

Rayas II, large barrel: mid-red; nose some cherry fruit; fizzy attack, rather green, a bit light, needs racking. Rayas I, large barrel: more substance than II – medium+ weight, a rounded bouquet, joli. Very unfinished wines at this stage. Not a big vintage, prob somewhat 1991-like. 18 years or so?? Oct 1998. Bottled early April 1999

1996

quite pale, gentle red colour; the nose is closed (“it has gone closed,” Emmanuel Reynaud) – there is berried fruit, strawberry that is slightly spiced, recalls Pinot Noir. The berry red fruits on the palate are measured, denote a year that is not big in scale. Sound tannic support, almost a Burgundian finesse to this.  “We had the weather of Burgundy in 1996,” Françoise Reynaud. The palate is delicate, but has sinew, and the length is pretty good, shows some final heat. Touch of the silk in the texture. Bottled Jan 1998.  With air, eight hours later, it is more genuinely rounded than this morning at the Château, its balance is good, the flavour a bright, spiced strawberry.  2019-22  April 1999  Previously Oct 1998 **** red colour, some depth; early strawberry on the nose, some pepper – garden fruits, a spherical shape to this. The palate has a nice, peppery style, is round and very Grenache in its plump, but appealing way. Elegance rules here. A little late tannin blends in well. Quite a fine vintage. From 2002 or so. 2014-16  Oct 1998 Previously Oct 1996 (tank) ***(*) fair red colour, not very deep. The nose is limited, quiet – some mild red fruits here. The palate holds discreet richness, is rounded but doesn’t hold a lot of body. The length is decent. “This is my best cuvée this year,” Jacques Reynaud: he’s not very exuberant about the vintage. 2016-19 Oct 1996

1995

(600-litre used cask) good deep red; there is some damson plum, dark fruit aroma – this has a warm, sensual tone. The palate is very good: lots of depth here, with tannins present around a sound, well sustained middle – indeed there is a lot of fruit here in mid-palate. Expressive, very good wine. 14.5°. 2019-22 Oct 1996

1994 ()

bottled May 1996 - very little wine in bottle this year: three-quarter depth red; the nose shows rather clear fruit, plums, and is expressive. The palate is soft, rather plump, its matter is fair, not deep, revolves around jam flavours. Round wine that is not ample. It pulls though to a chewy, fairly dry finish. This will run along quietly for a several years, is discreet Rayas. “We had hail this year – the grapes were damaged, but dried afterwards. We had to throw away half the harvest – the rain made the grapes rot in just a few hours, so eventually we had to harvest in the rain this year, and finished Fonsalette before Rayas,” Jacques Reynaud. 2014-17 Oct 1996

1984

(30 hl barrel, so this is one-third of all the 1984!) attractive, bright red robe with a nice purple, magenta influence. The nose is peppered, also quite hot. The palate makes one gasp early on from some acidity present, a bit of a shock given the usual style. This is going to need help since its green taste gets in the way. There is a sharpness about it, and obviously it has been a big struggle to achieve ripeness this year. “We harvested the 1984 in November; there was a lot of coulure (flowers failing to become fruit) on the main vines, then the remaining grapillons were ripe by the last week of October, but the degree wasn't high enough. So I waited a week to harvest, which we did in the week of All Saints.” Life of maybe 22 years? The longer it is left, the better. Only 90 hl, the equivalent of a 7 hl/ha yield, this year from the 13 hectares – “big coulure (flowers failing to convert into fruit), some botrytis”, Jacques Reynaud. June 1986

1983

correct red colour, not very dark – red with purple present. The nose is almost floral, has a “velvet”, captivating finesse. Good early richness on the palate – its comfortable depth is striking, the flavours linger extremely well, the fruit is arresting. Silky wine, very good, lovely flavouring that resembles damson plum. The fruit combines well with what tannins there are – this is not a heavyweight. “This will be drinking well in 4 to 5 years,” Jacques Reynaud. It combines a demi-muid of 1980, a few casks of 1981 and also some 1984 to add freshness! 100 hl made this year (also includes Pignan). 2008-12 June 1986

1981

served blind at Les Domaines Wine Bar, state of the art, in Avignon by patron Christophe Tassan. Nicely sustained dark red, ruby at the top, a bit more advanced than the 1979 Château de Fonsalette. The bouquet is developing, evolving, shows dry notes, pepper and some dust. However, the palate is autre chose: it is rich, spherical, grand wine; there is great concentration of rounded, mature fruits such as prune, a lovely ripeness from the dried, dark fruit zone, with cedar involved. Classic Grenache on display here: I think it is 1981 – right for once! It has a hum of heat through it. 2006-09  July 1991

1978

drunk chez Rosemary George in London, side by side with a 1978 Château Fortia (which was big, but more common): sound plum robe; excellent, aromatic bouquet whose first impression is of ripeness, seasoned with some pepper in its plum, damson fruit air. The palate is great – this is a lovely, spherical wine brimming with generosity and richness. The balance is wonderful, and an only discreet power hums through it. Very long and lingering. Its richness and balance will ensure it lives quietly on, sustaining itself over several years more – it can drink well into the 2000s without problem, but it is darned good just now, I have to say! 2011-15 Jan 1991

1971

1er Grand Cru on the label; this bottle had been with me since the beginning in Aix-en-Provence, picked up at the Château in 1974, surviving moves of flats, houses, countries. The vintage was hand stamped on the neck label: perfect ruby colour that is light all through, but jolie. It looks weak, but there is an inner core. There are quiet sap and sweetness on the bouquet, the faintest spice on top; it’s got great harmony, shows burnt edges with that. Air brings a dried rusk, light toast aspect, then tea/dust after seven+ hours, dried out teabags. The longer it opens past eight hours, the more it’s on a one way route to drying on the nose. The palate presents warm, fat plum jam flavouring with a spiced kick towards the finish – that’s where the heat comes in, with a back of the palate warmness, burn. The flavour is on dried fruits, their skins dried out. It’s definitely a southern wine, but the texture is very soft. It actually tightens after three to four hours. That little ball of plum survives the seven+ hours of being open, though its surrounds tone down a little; the softness continues in place, remarkable. This never falls away, always ends “up”. You decant an old Rayas red, and to the eye you have a weakling in your glass; on the palate, things are different, though… 2008-11 31 Dec 1999, a suitable date for it, East Sussex

1969

clear, ruby robe – attractively pale. Refined, clear-cut nose that is smoky, live and comes with a peppery overlay. The palate bears red pebbly fruit that is very clear-cut. Shows the acidity of the year, followed by the sweetness of the south, its Grenache red fruit. The length is OK, but there are tarry notes on the finish, just a bit edgy. 2013-16 Feb 2005

1962

the bouquet is beautifully complex; there is velvet all over it, and on the palate – all the way along. The bouquet is soft, warm (not hot) and there are airs of violets present. It is extremely long. Served blind by Louis Reynaud, I thought it was a 1959. Harmony and finesse walk hand in hand here. Château Rayas, 20 Nov, 1974

1955

mild red robe, tiled. Warm, toffee air, measured and beau, masses of attractive appeal, with the weight of chocolate, but great merit that it is also live and smoky. Lovely, warm black fruit flavour. The texture is warm, rich, oily, cold tea and rose-hip in the flavour. Has a fine, filigree quality. The scent of an alluring perfume floats with this. Bonny length, even if there are dry moments late on. To when? It can keep ticking along… 2020?? Probably have to open and drink then, with a first burst, a dip, and then a second and last revival. Feb 2005