Château Rayas, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc
Château Rayas, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc

Château Rayas, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc

Southern Rhône, France 2010 (750mL)
Regular price$899.00
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Château Rayas, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc

Lovers of Rhône Valley whites—you know who you are—need to jump on this 2010, which critic Robert Park called the greatest white Rayas made since 1990. A luxuriously textured blend of Grenache Blanc and Clairette, this is an explosive mélange of white peach, tropical fruits, orange oil, white flowers, and wet stones. Despite its palate-coating viscosity, there's also an amazing backbone of freshness and minerality. An amazing white wine, as one would expect from such a storied estate.


Indeed, it’s difficult to produce a “capsule” review of Rayas, given the historical importance of the estate and the consistent excellence of its wines, but its importer, Martine’s Wines, did as good a job as we’ve seen. Here’s how they describe it:


The spirit of Jacques Reynaud, the godfather of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is always present at the storied estate of Château Rayas. When this legendary founder died suddenly in 1997, his wife asked their nephew, Emmanuel Reynaud, to take the reins at both Château Rayas and Château de Fonsalette. Already making wines at his father’s Château des Tours, Emmanuel agreed.


Somewhat reclusive and to be found working his vineyards at most any time of day, every day, Emmanuel does not revel in the fame and notoriety that come with making such sought-after and acclaimed wines. Instead, he continues to quietly but successfully carry the mantle of his famous forebears, producing hauntingly aromatic wines at his three estates: Château Rayas, Château des Tours, and Château de Fonsalette.


Rayas is a secluded estate northeast of the village, not far from Courthézon. It is unusual because its 13 hectares of vines are north facing and contain none of the fabled round pebbles (galets roulés), and the vineyard is surrounded by forest. During vinification, each varietal of every vineyard is fermented separately in oak casks, with assemblage taking place in enamel-lined tanks before bottling. Fermentation begins naturally with no inoculation of yeasts in 80-100-year-old foudres. “These foudres were around when my grandfather was alive, and he bought them secondhand,” says Emmanuel.


There is a clear through-line in all the wines produced by Emmanuel — a unique weighty, aromatic, complex, and savory signature of all the wines that places them among the most well-regarded, sought-after bottles of the appellation.

Château Rayas, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc
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France

Bourgogne

Beaujolais

Enjoying the greatest wines of Beaujolais starts, as it usually does, with the lay of the land. In Beaujolais, 10 localities have been given their own AOC (Appellation of Controlled Origin) designation. They are: Saint Amour; Juliénas; Chénas; Moulin-à Vent; Fleurie; Chiroubles; Morgon; Régnié; Côte de Brouilly; and Brouilly.

Southwestern France

Bordeaux

Bordeaux surrounds two rivers, the Dordogne and Garonne, which intersect north of the city of Bordeaux to form the Gironde Estuary, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The region is at the 45th parallel (California’s Napa Valley is at the38th), with a mild, Atlantic-influenced climate enabling the maturation of late-ripening varieties.

Central France

Loire Valley

The Loire is France’s longest river (634 miles), originating in the southerly Cévennes Mountains, flowing north towards Paris, then curving westward and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean near Nantes. The Loire and its tributaries cover a huge swath of central France, with most of the wine appellations on an east-west stretch at47 degrees north (the same latitude as Burgundy).

Northeastern France

Alsace

Alsace, in Northeastern France, is one of the most geologically diverse wine regions in the world, with vineyards running from the foothills of theVosges Mountains down to the Rhine River Valley below.

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