Rayas Chateaneuf-du-Pape 2005
Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
"There are no signs on the dusty, narrow, dirt roads of Southern Rhône's Châteauneuf-du-Pape directing you to Château Rayas," writes Per-Henrik Mansson. "That's no accident. The late Louis Reynaud and his late son, Jacques, used to do all they could to keep unsolicited visitors at bay. Now, Louis' grandson, Emmanuel Reynaud, is doing his part to uphold the tradition."
According to Stephen Tanzer, "Emmanuel Reynaud has quickly shown himself to be a worthy caretaker of this fabled estate's superb holdings and a flexible, non-interventionist vinifier." A young Rayas displays a grip of fruit and tannins, but it's born with a surprising midpalate fatness -- what the French call "gras." In top years, the wine has the staying power to improve just as much as some of France's finest crus. It has been said that Rayas can transcend, in top years, its Southern Rhône roots to achieve the finesse and ethereal balance of a velvety Pinot Noir.
Rayas' rustic look not only reflects the owners' dislike for the trendy, it advertises their commitment to tradition. This philosophy comes through in the wine: In bad or good vintages, it tastes genuine. In a world of sameness, the Reynaud family makes a wine that's idiosyncratic even by the local standards of Châteauneuf. Rayas is unusual because its vineyards face mostly north (less heat, thus more finesse). It's also unusual because the wine is 100% Grenache. (Rayas has 27 acres planted to this varietal.) It helps that the vines are relatively old -- between 15 and 60 years, according to Emmanuel.
Finally, Rayas harvests late, sometimes very late. "That's the game we've always played in the family: We want ripe fruit, and we'll pick late if necessary," said Emmanuel. "You must know how to take risks. To win, you must be ready to lose."
The Wine Advocate - "I could not resist retasting the 2005 Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape. Until the 2007 is in bottle, the 2005 is clearly the greatest wine made at this estate since the 1995. Made from 100% Grenache, it boasts an unusually (for Rayas) dark ruby/purple-tinged color as well as an exceptionally sweet bouquet of black cherry jam, truffles, incense, licorice, and raspberries. Full-bodied with a stunningly rich, concentrated mouthfeel, an explosive mid-palate, and a finish that lasts more than a minute, it is a wine of superb power and intensity admirably displaying the terroir’s hallmark delicacy and ethereal nature. This utterly profound Chateauneuf du Pape should drink beautifully for 25+ years."
International Wine Cellar - "Deep red. Explosively perfumed nose offers a kaleidoscopic bouquet of red berries, candied cherry, orange marmalade and fresh flowers. Silky and deep in raspberry and cherry flavor, but with an airy, graceful character reminiscent of a highfalootin' Burgundy. A remarkably concentrated, elegant wine that finishes with superb, seamless length. There is absolutely no excess fat on this."
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About Chateauneuf-du-Pape(shah-too-NUHF due Pahp)Southern Rhone's landmark region, Chateauneuf du Pape, was the first region to gain AC status in France. That was the 1920s – it's history goes much further back than that. As the name suggests, the wine region was named after the "new papal home," referring to the period of time in the 1300's when the pope resided in Avignon instead of Rome.
Photo of galets covering the soil at Chateau de Beaucastel
Notable FactsThere are 13 allowed varieties in Chateauneuf du Pape (14 if you count Grenache Blanc separately from Grenache Noir). Grenache is the primary variety, followed by Syrah and Mourvedre as well as Cinsault. About 97% of the wines here are red, although many chateaux are producing whites ranging from quaffable to decadent and ageworthy. Reds from the best estates emit wonderful flavors of gamey spice, blackberries and currant, as well as the herbs and spices that are known to grow in the region.
Note on the soil: The grapes grow on soils covered in rounded, smooth stones called galets (gah-lay). The stones naturally cover most of the soils throughout Chateauneuf du Pape and are two fold in their duties. First, they are able to reflect and absorb the heat, to quicken the ripening of the grapes. They also help to hold in moisture so that the soils are not dried out by the hot Southern French sun.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.