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The Wines

45-50% Grenache blanc (part 1940s-1950s, part 1990-1995), 50-55% Clairette (1986), old 550-litre cask fermented separately and raised until Christmas, then vat raised 11 months, malo completed, 2,660-9,300 b

2017

(steel tank, bottling early January 2019) yellow colour; the bouquet is fab, real good peach-nectarine, quince jam, butter and flowers. It’s wide and assured. The palate is nutty, butty, holds inner silk, with good grip, even a tenacious side. This has the vintage strength, ends on fennel-aniseed. Forget this for 10 years. “It’s very gras, has freshness, and you could leave it for even 20 years. The yield was 70% of the normal,” Emmanuel Reynaud. From 2023, decanting essential if you approach early. 15.5°. 2050-52 Oct 2018

2016

(steel tank) yellow robe. The nose has an elegant depth, honey and peach, roasted nuts, cooked lemon, quince, acacia, jasmine flowers. The palate hands out joli gras right away, a plump ball; it reaches out with squeezy content lined with quince, spice, grips tightly. This is a Seigneur alongside the Monsieur of Fonsalette blanc in 2016. It has a firm heart, real good depth though the palate. You can munch on its sève [sap]. “It is long, gras, very fresh,” Emmanuel Reynaud. 2045-47 Oct 2017

2015

shiny, nicely full yellow robe. The bouquet is gracefully curved, on peach and nectarine, almonds with trim spice. It is detailed, has varied and subtle prompts, florality. The palate serves fine gras, suave moments, cooked lemon, greengage plum [Reine Claude], peach notes. It has a delicate feel despite its serene depth, offers rich, fluid, pleasure, is wrapped up in to a sphere with joyful length, developing a winning freshness. The balance is on the mark, and it’s tasty and well controlled. It will be great alongside a J-L Chave Hermitage blanc – what a duo! “It is more gras, nourishing than 2016 today,” Emmanuel Reynaud: I agree, a notch ahead. I come back to it three hours later: it floursishes with the time open, gains gras and openness, really enrichens up and ends with good, glossy petrol-like richness. 2044-46 Oct 2017

2014

(steel tank) yellow robe. Has a tender but assured nose – its depth is stylish, not at all showy, comes with honey and stone fruits. The palate presents a rich but also good travelling start; this has spicing and an elegant richness to take it a long way. It is a good mix of freshness and content, is a stylish southern wine. Vanilla and apricot feature in its flavour. It has quiet strength, is really good performer. “It is very persistent,” Emmanuel Reynaud. 14.5°. 2035-38  Oct 2015

2012 ()

(tank, bottling soon) yellow colour; nutty first air with a charming floral, spring flowers air behind, a good layer of gras richness thanks to some cooked pear within. The palate presents a ball of gras richness with a deep inset; the gras is enhanced by 4-5% more Clairette than usual this year, meaning the wine is 55% Clairette, 45% Grenache blanc, not 50-50. There is willing freshness and a lot of small white fruits wrapped into the wine that form its foundation. It ends on fine, light tobacco and floral dabs. Long, closed, waiting wine; its heart beats well, and time will coax it out. From 2016. Decant. 2034-36 9,300 b this year, usual is 8,000 b. Nov 2013

2011 ()

(tank, bottling today) yellow colour, has a healthy, glowing depth. Ripe, creamy, near exotic fruits air, pineapple and mandarin, licorice. The palate starts richly – off we go! This holds a lot of glycerol, has real foundation, is nutty, packs power at the end. The main fruit is pear-peach. Aniseed appears towards the finish. Textured, full, indeed full-on Rayas blanc, built around its glycerol, a true Vin de Sud. I would skip its youth. From 2016-17, and decant. 2033-35  Dec 2012

2010

(tank, bottling in 10 days) full yellow; has a honey, exotic fruits air – mango here, also curry powder, apricot. Lovely gras and texture on the palate, with effortless depth; it lengthens on spice and has a comfortable, nutty grip. Vanilla and white fruit jam feature on the aftertaste. Seamless length, has character, balance, a long life ahead. “Magnificent; it started to ferment very fast, then stopped at 1020, re-started 15 days later, losing 1 gm of sugar a week, ending at Christmas time. There is no residual sugar in it. It has a very good palate behind its richness,” Emmanuel Reynaud. The balance means it can be enjoyed early, but that is to go off at half-cock, so wait until it is 10 years’ old or so. It will develop impressive harmony and complexity. 2035-37 Dec 2011

2009

(steel tank) marked yellow robe; ripe nose – on a jam fruit run, such as oranges, is ripe and veers towards barley sugar. The palate has comfortable, rich and fine gras, good length. “It fermented until January 2010 – I like that; it is very pure and natural,” E.Reynaud. There is a late glow. Is about 14.8°. This is certainly successful, a wine that will age well, and is also full of heart. From 2013, say. 2030-33 Oct 2010

2008

(steel tank, to be bottled in 2 weeks) yellow traces; firm bouquet – baked fruits, tart, dried white fruits, brioche, sponge cake – plenty to be going on with. Spiced, live fruit leads the palate, comes with a line of some power and a vibrant siding either side of the spine. Rather beefy, shows full later stages. Wait. From 2013. 14.5°. 2024-27 Dec 2009

2007

(steel tank) steady yellow, a robe with a rich countenance. Has a floral, melted butter, spice nose – mandarin, cashew nut and white raisin come forward. It is richly textured, delivered with a full richness and plenty of glycerol, the length rich, too. Honey and almond feature in the flavour. Has a big, fat, stroking mid-palate, then late grip. There are traces of potency here. The texture is sultry and fat. 2022-25 Nov 2008

2006

yellow robe; honey, apricot aroma come with ginger, spice, a healthy cornucopia, orange rind. The depth is profound. This is clear and expressive, holds ultimately stylish gras. It is very beau, and in an excellent state now. It grips tightly, is clear and expressive. The flavour combines dried fruits, peach and apricot, and spiced, orange marmalade – attractive combinations. Opened three days ago. “It is a bit young for me,” Emmanuel Reynaud. 2033-35  Oct 2015, at the Château Previously June 2011 ****** pale robe; has a Sensaround nose, a real amplifier effect; lavender, rubbed stones, variety, much of that, also potential, a wholesome, promising bouquet with a touch of breeze in it. Vanilla-flecked, nutty, honey-caramel flavours lead the palate, which is full of gras, and persists very well, all together. Rich Rayas this year, a wine that chases down the drinker, with no holding back. The finish is warm. Big dishes with this, lobster, veal and friends. If I were a rich man, I would salt away cases of this to keep me happy, whatever the situation outside. Has a real “Bugger Off, World” quality. 13.5°. 2034-37 Previously Nov 2008 ****** spiced, cooked pear and apricot, high tone or some varnish, with wafts of honey in the bouquet. There is good, firm grip on the start of the palate; it reveals floral, but rich moments, and is complex and varied. There is interesting mystery around it. Its excellent richness is noble, and flavours and nuances abound. Go, Maestro! The finish is complete. This is a beau Rayas blanc, with extraordinary length – it needs to refine, but has all its life to do that. 14.2°. “Rayas blanc can live for a minimum of 20 years, but if you drink it now, decant it the day before,” E.Reynaud. 2038-41. 7,000 b. Nov 2008 Previously Nov 2007 (steel tank) ****(*) there is glycerol evident in the robe, which is quite a pale yellow. The nose is a bit reduced, reflects honey and almonds. There is a tiny oxidative air, but it is agreeable. The palate grips well – more than the Fonsalette of this vintage – and there is a lot of refined richness here. Is very fat, with an easy plumpness, but the fat never cloys. Persists well, is broad and sustained. Has a late light butter and hazelnut finale. Interesting wine. Can definitely run along. Decant this. 2022-27 52% Grenache blanc, 48% Clairette this year. The Grenache was picked around 5 September, the Clairette 20 September. Nov 2007

2005

bright, pale yellow, legs down glass. Creamy, mild nut air – the bouquet is broad, locked up, shows damp wool, which I associate with maturing white Rhônes, more usually Viognier. Tenacious start to the palate, which grips in the manner of a red wine. Its depth is secure, the wine straightens well, has that droit, straight along nature of the vintage. Needs time to soften and vary its finish, is still locked up, closing firmly with honey traces there. The aftertaste is lucid, the length pebbly, grainy. Very good balance. From 2014. 13.5°. 2032-34 June 2011 Previously Nov 2007 ***** very wide bouquet that is not at all forced: shows really refined hazelnut, with a ripe, sweet undertone. Good, interesting mix of scented white fruits such as peach, they come in a delicate manner, with floral tones as well. Has a lovely, understated richness, is a wine of reflection rather than reflex. The length is good, and it is rounded all through. Shows yet again that the white wines here are still out of the loop, and I say Bravo for that. Long life: 2029-31 maybe. Nov 2007 Previously June 2006 **** persistent, full and lasting bouquet with traces of honey. White fruits with a touch of fennel on a full and rounded palate. The end texture is soft, the wine enjoys good grip. There are good reserves in this well-knit palate that grows as it goes. Fine Wine. Very tight-knit, so good ageing potential. 13-13.5°. 2024-27. “55% Grenache blanc, 45% Clairette this year – the Clairette suffered from Mistral wind damage,” E.Reynaud.

2004

level yellow colour; tight wrap, rounded nose that is not out and showing yet; its honey air is curved, there is potential abundance. It is not yet nuanced or varied into a herbal path, the aroma more reflects white fruit jam, vanilla, nut. Has a richly textured attack with wonderfully fine acidity, a caress from that. Again, the gras of the south is present, a velvet delivery. There is warmth on the finish, where it develops its weight and its gras richness. 13.5°. 2030-32 June 2011

2003

level yellow colour; salty front air, broad aromas behind, including green asparagus, peanut-nuts, honeysuckle traces, pear, damp wool. Summary: plenty here, joli and a little mysterious. The palate is rich and robust, but under control. It is rather beefy, and it isn`t easy to define its flavours. It stretches out well, is mbile and not overdone. Heat and glow on the finish point to the vintage. I get as sense of unfinished business in this closed wine – it can live very well. The finish is wide, sustained. I note that its fruit has generally been under wraps. Meats and big flavours suited. From 2014. 13.5°. 2030-33 June 2011 Previously March 2004 **** (steel tank) refined stone fruits aroma, with discreet width, some pear. Stone fruits start to the palate, with burnt fringes. Is refined, the flavour emerges with a tang of the skin of stone fruits. The fruit is reserved, then there is a little spice, followed by a gentle oiliness. Esp 2007 on. 15-18 years. March 2004

2002 ()

apricot, pear almond, white fruits aroma, with some high tone. Good, understated richness on the palate, has real gentle quality. Again, the pitter patter of a light touch in the cellar: this moves quietly along, with some light nut in it – all very elegant. Refined wine that can flesh out if left until around 2007. Nice to drink now. 2014-16 March 2004

2001

fresh, quite pale robe. Pungent, melon and very ripe fruit aroma, honeycomb in the background. Elegant, spiced palate. Fennel/licorice present. Clean and perhaps more sophisticated than in the past. Broad, slightly burnt aftertaste. Achieves weight without oppressive alcohol or very late picking. The tinge of bitter on the finish is rather Marsanne in style. Good now. 2016-18 September 2005, London Previously Feb 2005 London *** refined, elegant bouquet, soft white fruits, citrus tones, too, varied, also pear here. Low-key richness, its depth is well-shaped. Narrows a little, though the length is OK, and has a nutty comeback on the aftertaste. Peach skins, fennel effect inside the flavour. High tone here a little also. Fine wine, with some alcohol traces. 2018-21 February 2005, London Previously March 2004 **** soft, honey, beeswax nose with light apricot airs. White fruit starts the palate with some intriguing core, shields its potential for now. Has a gentle smile of fruit in it, and lasts well. Tastes young now. The white fruit comes in a filigree texture. A little light toasting on the finish From 2008. 2019-21 March 2004

2000

legs run down a healthy yellow robe. There are floral notes, with a comfortable level of buttery depth on the bouquet with a light note of hazelnut. There are touches of Riesling, petrol, lime and lemon, pear and almond. The nose gives an airborne impression, is rather enchanting (tasted blind). The palate has a richness of matter and texture, which is silken, but also bears a winning saline thread; this could be taken for a Riesling via the great precision of its acidity. Lovely with cheese and classic French cuisine dishes. In excellent shape, a real pleasure and an intrigue at the same time. 2022-24  Dec 2013 Previously Feb 2005 ***(*) fresh looking colour, some yellow content. Buttery, rounded bouquet, with a crushed fruit core, some spice floating around. Palate also rounded, with some alcohol edging. Quite a big wine, though it is integrated. Aromatic flavour, nutty towards finish. Sound length. A bit subdued now. Elegant, pretty texture. Has a tickling sweetness. 2017-19 February 2005, London Previously Nov 2002 ***(*) floral, pear airs and a smoky, greengage whirl in a gentle bouquet. Ripe, but restrained palate – it is harmonious, but full, the fullness understated. Stylish, will take its time. 2016-18 Nov 2002, Paris

1998

live, pungent nose with a salty tang, cut grass effect, is quite broad. Chewy, full flavour, works on its assertive attack, then tapers down. Rich interior, with a hazelnut, white fruits flavour. Length is fair. Best to leave and revert, maybe around 2008. 2016-18

1996 ()

yellow-hued robe; the bouquet is fat, mixes up its aromas that include white fruits, honey, greengage plum, floral airs with sea salt, iodine. There’s wonderful harmony on the palate; this massages the mouth, has great balance. It becomes a touch more nutty with air, tightening nicely as it does so. This will live well. 2017-20 Grand Hotel, Stockholm Sept 1999 Previously Oct 1998 **** yellow tints; delicate, floral aroma, mixes apricot and acacia. Quetely ruch style about the palate, an elegant show. Very much in the house style, and its weight grows through the palate. Dried apricot in the flavour, good final width. Cask notes towards the finish. “It is coming round; it started with acidity, freshness which people liked – but we didn't,” Françoise & nephew Emmanuel Reynaud. 2014-16 Oct 1998 Previously Oct 1996 ***(*) (450-litre cask) the nose lies low, has a hint of oily depth, perhaps apricot. This isn’t a fat year on the palate: the texture is good and fairly ripe, and it is well channelled. This is good: it’s more on elegance than power. 13°. 2012-15 Oct 1996

1995 ()

bottled six weeks ago: fair yellow robe, legs down the glass. There is potential in the bouquet – dried fruits, plenty to come. The palate is sinewed, nicely warm and less corpulent than the 1994. Very bonny length, shows some final, southern heat. “We bottled early to keep its freshness,” Jacques Reynaud. Will take its time. 2014-18 Oct 1996

1994

yellow robe; pretty full bouquet, some white fruit airs that are rather refined, light apricot, is wholesome. The palate is also very full, especially towards the finish. Really delicious, very rounded, a wine of great expression. Lovely flesh here, is a splendid wine. Has a nice, quite warm finish. Bottled Dec 1995. 2014-17 Oct 1996

1990

has a belle robe, a shiny, full yellow, inviting and wholesome. The nose gives the classic Rayas hint of oxidation, with a plumptious, white plum-peanut/hazelnut aroma, but great finesse, an airborne enchantment. It has a velvet glove approach. As it breathes, honey, butter, flowers come along, but are delivered with restraint. The palate is much more grounded than the nose – it is real feet on the ground wine, has sturdy inner strength, kind freshness. It glides with lovely fine-ness. Glycerol keeps it alive, goes pitter patter. This is flourishing wine, with plenty more to give over time. I bet it will be better tomorrow, so don’t be scared of decanting it. 13.5°. 2034-37 Nov 2016

1959 ()

termed blanc sec, bottled in 1960: dark yellow, gold colour with a rich, syrup-like aspect. It has an enormous nectar of a bouquet. It is dry and elegant on the palate, with a long, lingering slightly cloying aftertaste. Excellent wine. Made with Grenache blanc and Clairette, it is a little oxidised perhaps, but then got better with air. Can live on. Château Rayas, 20 November, 1974