Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape Rhone Wine

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Chateau Rayas, Chateauneuf du Pape, Rhone wine producer profile with wine tasting notes, wine ratings, a history of the property, information on wine making and terroir, along with wine tasting reviews and images. If you want to read about other important wineries and wine makers from the Rhone valley: Links to all Rhone Valley Wine Producer Profiles

If there is one single wine in the appellation that signifies the true level of greatness possible in Chateauneuf du Pape, perhaps it’s Rayas. Like the First Growths of Bordeaux, Rayas could be the wine that stands above all the others in the Southern Rhone Valley. The bouquet is haunting. The purity of fruit can be otherworldly and the textures are extraordinarily sensuous.

Chateau Rayas has been around longer than their oldest vines. The Reynaud family, (who still manage Rayas today) began working at the property in 1880, due to an unforeseen occurrence. Albert Reynaud, who lived and worked in Avignon, which is close to Chateauneuf du Pape went deaf at the age of 45. That caused him to seek a new career. He decided to become a winemaker in the Rhone valley and he purchased Rayas.

Rayas Bottles 300x224 Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape Rhone Wine

After Albert passed away, Louis Reynaud inherited Rayas. The family added to their holdings, increasing the size of their vineyards. In 1935 they bought Chateau des Tours. Ten years later, they added Chateau Fonsalette to their vineyard holdings. In the 1930’s, Rayas built new cellars and wine making facilities in the area of Pignan, because their previous cellars were no longer within the new boundaries of what became the official Chateauneuf du Pape AOC.

Jacques Reynaud managed the family estates from 1978 until he passed away in 1997. The quality of Rayas slipped after Jacques Reynaud died. His son Emmanuel Reynaud took over the property and for a few years, the wines were not at the level of quality capable of being produced at Rayas. Some of that is due a learning curve and to the fact that at the time, much of the wine at Rayas was being produced from young vines. Close to 50% of the vineyards needed replanting, which took place in the 1980’s. Starting with the 2005 vintage, things turned around for Chateau Rayas and once again, they began producing majestic Chateauneuf du Pape wine. It is expected that the son of Emmanuel Reynaud, Louis Damien Reynaud will eventually take over managing Rayas in the future.

Rayas is one the legendary properties from Chateauneuf du Pape. Some of the wines produced by Jacques Reynaud sell for over $1,000 a bottle today! There is no secret to the quality of the wine. Rayas, like all the world’s best wines is produced from great terroir.

Chateau Rayas owns 23 hectares of land, with 12 hectares of vines in Chateauneuf du Pape. 10 hectares are devoted to the production of red wine and 2 hectares are reserved for making white Chateauneuf du Pape. The vineyard is made up of 15 different parcels in all. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, Rayas has a unique terroir. Rayas has a terroir of red, sandy soils, with small amounts of limestone and clay with a north east exposure. Very few stones are found littering the landscape of Rayas. Those poor soils are a big part of what goes into the singular character found in their wines. Another important factor that bears looking at is the large pine and oak trees found in their vineyards. Those trees clearly alter the micro climate of Chateau Rayas. Rayas has naturally low yields and they are always one of the last properties to harvest, so they pick their grapes at the peak levels of ripeness. Situated in the north of Chateauneuf du Pape, with no easy to view signs, Rayas can be quite difficult to find.

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Rayas remains a traditional Chateauneuf du Pape estate. They retain a good portion of their stems. The grapes are whole bunch pressed and vinified in concrete tanks. The wine is aged in a combination of demi muids and foudres of various capacities for an average of 16 months. Produced from close to, or even 100% old vine Grenache, the production is about 1,100 cases per vintage.

Pignan is the second wine of Rayas. In some years, like 1990, it is an amazing wine that while not at the level of Rayas, it’s still outstanding. It’s produced from almost 100% old vine Grenache from the young vines of their holdings. The wine is aged for 16 months in demi-muids and foudres. 650 cases are produced each year.

Rayas produces two red Chateauneuf du Pape wines and one white Chateauneuf du Pape. The white wine, is an even blend of 50% Grenache Blanc and 50% Clairette. Aged in tank, 425 cases of Rayas Blanc are produced each year.

Rayas also makes three different Fonselatte wines, a Syrah, the la Pialade and a Cotes du Rhone Blanc from 10 hectares of vines in the Cotes du Rhone appellation. The domaine also makes the very good, value priced, Chateau des Tours in Vacqueyras.

Wine Tasting Notes

Displaying 16 vintages | 80655 Views Sorted by vintage

  1. 2007 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. Rich, deep, concentrated and lush, the wine is packed with the perfect blend of ripe and over ripe cherries, kirsch, black raspberry jam, pepper and earth. This is silky, intense and exotic. As good as this is now, it's only going to get better with time. Rayas has one of the best track records in Chateauneuf du Pape for improving with age.

      97 points - Tasted
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  2. 2006 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Pignan Reserve

    1. Black raspberry, jam, kirsch and pepper aromas, medium body and sweet kirsch flavors with a touch of olive and herbal sensations in the elegant, textured finish. This is already drinking well.

      89 points - Tasted
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  3. 2005 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. Wow! That says it all. Clearly, this vintage marks the return to greatness for what many people think is the best wine of Chateauneuf du Pape. Pepper, jammy kirsch, fennel, black raspberries, spice and earthy scents explode from the glass. Rich and mouth filling, with an elegant presence, the wine offers intense, silky, pure, lush, fresh, spicy strawberry, dark cherry, pepper and raspberry jam flavors. Like all great vintages of Rayas, this should age and improve for at least 20-25 years.

      97 points - Tasted
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  4. 2001 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. Wow, what a treat! Silky, soft and smooth, with layers of lush cherries, kirsch, pepper, spice, strawberry, black raspberry liqueur and fresh herbs. The fruit has an intensity of flavor and purity that is hard to find in any other wine.

      94 points - Tasted
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  5. 2000 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. Lots of bright red, spicy berries and kirsch, along with silky textures, which is a good thing. But the notes of olive, and herbs were quite prominent, which took away from the fruit. I found that distracting. This is drinking at peak. It's a wine I would not hold, as the green characteristics could continue to become more noticeable with time.

      90 points - Tasted
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  6. 1999 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. Ripe, jammy cherries and raspberries, spices and herbs make up the perfume. Medium bodied with good balance, I wish the wine had a bit more depth. Still, it was nice and displayed Rayas character. Fully mature, drink this over the next 6-8 years.

      90 points - Tasted
    2. Jammy fruit, kirsch, herbs and earth aromas. Medium bodied with good balance. Elegant in style.

      91 points - Tasted
    3. 1999 Rayas is a very nice wine. extremely accessible, ready to drink, Fragrant, not very powerful but the flavors grew in the glass. This is a nice wine, but it's not like any of the older versions of Rayas that were so spectacular. It is close in style to the 94, with less depth.

      90 points - Tasted
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  7. 1998 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. The purity of the cherry, strawberry and plum fruits is hard to beat. Add in spice, mint and pepper, the texture of exotic silk and a sweet, kirsch filled finish and you have a bottle of 1998 Rayas. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in style and character. This is drinking in the sweet spot today.

      93 points - Tasted
    2. Pepper, fresh black raspberry, kirsch, earth and spice aromas pop from the glass as soon as the wine is poured. With soft, round textures coupled with fresh, clean, spicy cherry, raspberry and jammy strawberry flavors in the finish, this has improved over the past few years. While the wine lacks the power of the best vintages Rayas can produce, it offers a beautiful, stylistic expression of Rayas.

      93 points - Tasted
    3. A wine all Burgundy should aspire to be. However, at the current price which is close to $200 per bottles, it's a wine Chateauneuf lovers should pass on. This is probably close to full maturity. Aromatics of red fruits and cherry tones on the finish. Medium to light bodied in texture. Nice personality. But not enough concentration or complexity. I prefer the 94, 97 & 99 Rayas to the 98. They are all superior vintages of Rayas for a lot less money.

      91 points - Tasted
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  8. 1997 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. Telltale kirsch and pepper note that only Rayas has. Fully developed. Slightly light, but, definitely in the style of Rayas.

      90 points - Tasted
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  9. 1995 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. Surprisingly young, the wine is deep, concentrated and fresh, with layers of sweet, ripe and over ripe cherries, kirsch, strawberry liqueur, pepper and herbs. Popped and poured, the wine improved in the glass. A short decant would have helped soften the wine and allow more aromatics to shine. This really showed like it was at least 5-10 years younger. It's too bad Rayas is now so expensive. It's as much, or more of a treat than a First Growth when these bottles are popped today.

      97 points - Tasted
    2. Wow! Or should I say WOW! This is everything that is great about Chateauneuf du Pape and Rayas. Kirsch, earth, garrigue, cherry liqueur and pepper, with silky, attention grabbing textures and a long, concentrated, fresh, clean, pure cherry finish. This is entering the sweet spot of its drinking window. OK, it's pricey, but this is Rayas from a great vintage, what did you expect?

      97 points - Tasted
    3. An explosion of lavender, cherry griotte, black pepper, licorice, stone, earth, spice, black raspberry and strawberry jam greets your nose. Lush, dense, sensuous and palate coating, this spicy, intense, ripe, peppery, sweet cherry filled Chateauneuf du Pape is a stunning example of what Rayas does at its best.

      98 points - Tasted
    4. Ripe kirsch, strawberry and cherry flavors paried with intensity, purity and a sexy, sauvage profile. Still young .

      96 points - Tasted
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  10. 1994 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. That telltale Rayas aroma of kirsch, cherry cough syrup, black pepper and herbs was showing its stuff! Medium to full bodied with layers ripe, red fruits including raspberries, strawberries and cherries on the palate. Slightly short finish with not quite enough on the mid palate to be great.

      92 points - Tasted
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  11. 1990 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. Ripe, very ripe, extremely ripe and over ripe cherries of every type put on a non stop, showy display, complicated by earth, herbs and spicy black raspberries. Silky, sexy, smooth and vibrant, this is the best bottle of 1990 Rayas I've tasted in years.

      100 points - Tasted
    2. Spicy cherries, earth, kirsch, jammy raspberry and spice scents explode from the glass. The palate enjoys layers of soft, ripe, polished, sweet red fruits. This is the epitome of finesse in Chateauneuf du Pape. Fully mature, and stunning in every way, but it's not as deep as it was a 3-5 years ago. There is no reason to hold this wine any longer.

      97 points - Tasted
    3. Very lush with sexy ripe fruit. This reminded me of liquefied, spicy cherries

      97 points - Tasted
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  12. 1989 Château Rayas Côtes du Rhône Château de Fonsalette Reserve

    1. Very spicy, with notes of pepper, cinnamon, fresh herbs and black fruit. Full bodied, dense with a healthy dose of tannin to resolve. On the palate, black fruit and cherries. A rustic style of wine that while I recognize it's well made, it's not my style of wine

      85 points - Tasted
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  13. 1989 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. Kirsch, pepper, spice, anise, mineral, strawberry and garrigue aromas were easy to find. Rich, concentrated and fresh, this lively, pure, intense, sweet, cherry and kirsch filled vintage of Rayas is fully mature. I have tasted better bottles of 1989 Rayas. This was a good example, but not a great one.

      95 points - Tasted
    2. Perfume filled with fresh, ripe, peppery raspberry and black cherry , garrigue and soil with a tiny hint of VA were all over the place and in your face! This concentrated, lush, intense, sauvage Chateauneuf du Pape wine is filled with ripe, dark cherry and black raspberry flavors.

      97 points - Tasted
    3. Richness, intensity and purity of fruit. 89 Rayas with its tell tale kirsch dominated nose, pepper, anise and minerality, paired with beautiful textures and sweet red fruit, excited your senses.

      99 points - Tasted
    4. The nose explodes from the glass, but the aromas are delicate strawberries, earth, spices, herbs and cherry scents. This is a full bodied, thick, rich, lusty style of Chateauneuf. But not heavy. It's perfectly balanced. For me, the older bottles of Rayas are a unique experience. There is a core of red, almost over ripe cherries and cherry liqueur, along with a deep texture, that coats your palate. Those qualities make Rayas stand out in blind tasting from ever other Chateauneuf. The finish remains in your mouth for a minute!

      98 points - Tasted
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  14. 1989 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Pignan Reserve

    1. A major step up from the Fonselatte. Spicy, peppery nose with forest scents, garraguie notes with jammy red and black fruits. Great structure. Full bodied with a long finish. On the palate, a unique combination of jammy, ripe and over ripe, red and black fruit. Pignan is a completely different style of wine than Rayas. It's wild, rustic and savage. This is not delicate. This wine is in your face wine. But I love it!

      92 points - Tasted
    2. Pignan can be a mini Rayas. It lacks the sophistication and power of Rayas, but at a quarter the price, it’s a good substitute. Unable to pay attention, my general impression was of a fully mature wine offering notes of pepper and very ripe red fruits in a full bodied and robust style.

      89 points - Tasted
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  15. 1988 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. Earthy, with a touch of barnyard in the kirsch, pepper, garrigue, strawberry, cherry liqueur, spice and black cherry scented perfume. This is a semi masculine, powerful style of Rayas that can still age, if it has been well stored.

      95 points - Tasted
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  16. 1985 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve

    1. The intoxicating, complex perfume of pure kirsch, fresh raspberry, pepper, earth, red plum liqueur, cherry blossoms and the equivalent of shoving your nose in an over-stuffed spice box drawer, makes it close to impossible to stop enjoying the aromas and taste the wine. The textures are pure silk and velvet with that unique exotic, and little bit of kinkiness that is only found in the top vintages of Rayas. Medium bodied, (Rayas is never about power) with a beautiful purity of spicy, ripe and over ripe red fruits, this is drinking at peak maturity. Fortunately, I still have one bottle left. I'll probably pop it when the wine hits 30, as I want to retain as much fruit and freshness as possible.

      97 points - Tasted
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