Keen to discover more about Chateau Rayas and how you can invest in its magnificent wines? The legendary Chateau Rayas winery produces exceptionally elegant wines that are highly sought-after by wine drinkers and collectors. The Chateau’s low-profile, unique winemaking style, and limited production quantities all add to the mystery around Rayas wines! But what is the history behind the iconic Chateau Rayas, and how is this beautiful wine made? Let’s explore all there is to know about Chateau Rayas, including the best bottles you can buy in 2021 and the easiest way to invest in them !
A Quick Intro to Chateau Rayas
Chateau Rayas is a wine house situated in the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation in Southern Rhone Valley, France. The most recognized Chateau Rayas wine is their red – Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape. However, they also produce a second wine – Rayas Pignan, and a small amount of a sophisticated white wine – Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc. Read more : Want to make a tasty wine cocktail? Check out our amazing Sangria recipe ideas , or learn how to make delicious Mimosas ! So, how did Chateau Rayas establish its name in the French wine industry?
A Brief History of Chateau Rayas
When Albert Reynaud lost his hearing at 45, he decided to change his career (since he was no longer able to work as a notary) and go into the winemaking business. When he bought the Chateau Rayas in 1880, the Reynaud family moved from Avignon to the Chateauneuf du Pape region. Later on, the estate was inherited by Albert’s son – Louis Reynaud, who managed to build the Chateau’s stellar reputation. He did this by adding the words “Premier Grand Cru” on the Rayas wine labels. Even though that violated the French appellation laws, it made their wines recognizable as superior-quality wines and drove their prices much higher than before. Louis also added the Chateau de Fonsalette and Domaine des Tours vineyards to the family winemaking business. In 1978, Louis’s son – Jacques Reynaud, took over the business. He was known for his odd personality. He often hid in the winery to avoid meeting the Chateau’s guests. Jacques’ sudden death in 1997 and the lack of direct heirs resulted in his nephew Emmanuel taking over the business. Emmanuel Reynaud is the current owner of Chateau Rayas and may pass on the business to his sons in the future. Further reading : Explore the exciting world of Champagne ! Or, if you want red wine, discover the Best Malbec Wines you can try in 2021!
Chateau Rayas Wines
Chateau Rayas has three unique wine styles:
1. Chateau Rayas
- Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape : This is Chateau Rayas’ signature style of red wine made with 100% Grenache grapes (even though the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation regulations allow blend wines with up to 13 varietals.) About 1,100 cases are produced annually.
- Rayas Pignan Chateauneuf du Pape : The second wine of Chateau Rayas is also made with 100% Grenache grapes. Only 650 cases of Pignan wine are produced each year.
- Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc : The white wine of Chateau Rayas is made with 50% Grenache Blanc and 50% Clairette grapes. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks. About 425 cases of Rayas Blanc are produced annually.
This white wine blend has a surprisingly long shelf life of about 5 to 15 years. It was described by Martine Saunier ( Martine’s Wines is the exclusive US importer of Chateau Rayas) as “the Montrachet of Rhone Valley.”
- Chateau Rayas la Pialade : This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, and 5% Syrah.
2. Chateau de Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone
Chateau Rayas produces three different Rhone wines, but the vine plantings itself are located in Cote du Rhone. They are:
- Chateau Rayas Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone : That’s a classic Southern Rhone red blend made with 50% Grenache, 35% Cinsault, and 15% Syrah grape varieties.
- Chateau Rayas Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Syrah : This elegant red wine is made of the Syrah grape variety.
- Chateau Rayas Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone Blanc : A white blend wine made with 50% Grenache Blanc, 10% Marsanne, and 10% Clairette grape varieties.
Read more : Explore the fascinating world of Zinfandel Wines !
3. Chateau des Tours
Chateau des Tours red and white wines are classified as Vin de Pays. The red Chateau des Tours wines are made with grape varieties supplied from either Vacqueyras or the Cotes du Rhone appellations. The wines are:
- Rayas Chateau des Tours Vacqueyras : A red wine blend made with 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah grapes
- Rayas Chateau des Tours Cotes du Rhone Rouge : A blend from 5% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 15% Cinsault grapes
Rayas Chateau des Tours Cotes du Rhone Blanc : A varietal white wine made with 100% Grenache Blanc
Viticulture in Chateau Rayas
Chateau Rayas owns 12 hectares of vineyards in the Chateauneuf du Pape region. 10 hectares are devoted to the growth of the red grape variety Grenache and 2 hectares – to the white grape varieties. The Rayas vineyard faces northeast and has a cool microclimate that prolongs the grape ripening. This results in relatively low yields (about 10-20 hectoliters) and very late harvesting periods. The old vine plants are replaced only when they can no longer produce grapes. The cool climate and unique terroir are also maintained by the oak and pine trees surrounding the vineyards. The sandy soil lays on top of a clay layer underneath, which keeps the moisture and retains the cool temperatures in the vineyard. Related articles : Here are The Best Wines of the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation that you should definitely try!
How is Chateau Rayas Wine Made?
After the late harvest, the grapes are transported to the small Chateau Rayas winemaking facility. The building surprises with its modest style, old oak barrels, and plain cellars with rock floors. An amusing fact is that electricity was not present at the estate until the 1980s. The grape bunches are pressed and vinified in concrete tanks. Once the fermentation is complete, the wine ages in large 450-liter old oak casks (with an average age of 70 years.) The winemakers use old barrels, so they don’t compromise the wine’s authentic taste with stronger new oak flavors and sweetness. The wine is bottled after aging for at least 16 months. Read more : Want to try some of the finest Italian reds? Check out The Best Chianti bottlings and The Most Fascinating Barbera Wines ! Next, let’s take a look at how to serve your Chateau Rayas in style.
Chateau Rayas Wine Characteristics and Food Pairings
The beauty of Chateau Rayas wine is that it can be enjoyed both young and aged. You can decant your Chateau Rayas red wine for about two hours to let it develop all its elegant aromas and pure fruit flavors. Serve it at around 15.5°C to enhance its freshness. A Chateau Rayas goes well with a wide range of meat dishes like roasted chicken, braised veal, or juicy pork steaks. It also pairs well with pasta, steamed veggies, and seafood dishes such as shellfish, sushi, and lobster. Further reading : Wondering what glass to use for your Champagne? Here are the Best Champagne Glasses you can use to sip on your bubbly with style. So, which Chateau Rayas bottles you should definitely get in 2021?
The Best Chateau Rayas Wines to Buy in 2021
Here are 10 of the most stunning Rayas wines:
1. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve 1945
This older vintage of Chateau Rayas has aged beautifully over the decades, preserving its freshness and deep red color. The wine has a nose of black raspberry with a chocolaty flavor and delicate red fruit aromas. Price of Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve 1945: $11,776
2. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve 1971
Here’s another excellent vintage among Rayas’ red wines. The wine has a mesmerizing flavor of ripe cherry and strawberry and a slight peppery Mediterranean flair – a classic Pinot Noir wine! Price of Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve 1971: $4,386
3. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve 1979
Here’s another great wine that is rich and exotic with subtle mint and black currant aromas. It has a delicious raspberry flavor accompanied by clear but complex undertones of leather and smoke. Price of Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve 1979: $3,011
4. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve 1990
This fantastic vintage combines elegant aromas of sweet spice, licorice, and roasted herbs. This medium-bodied wine has exceptional freshness and dominant red fruit tasting notes with a slight leather aftertaste. Price of Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve 1990: $2,499
5. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Pignan Reserve 1976
That’s a great example of the Chateau’s second wine – Pignan. The wine has exquisite tasting notes of raspberry and cherry fruit, elegantly combined with juicy acidity and chewy tannins. The long-lasting finish has subtle pepper and thyme tasting notes. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Pignan Reserve 1976: $1,848
6. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Pignan Reserve 1996
This Pignan wine that has medium tannin levels and a distinct ripe berry taste with gentle cherry liquor and lavender aromas. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Pignan Reserve 1996: $695
7. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Pignan Reserve 2010
This beautiful fresh Rayas wine has an elegant nose of wildflowers and mint. The wine has distinct red fruit and roasted herbs flavors transitioning into an intense earthy and spicy finish. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Pignan Reserve 2010: $437
8. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve Blanc 1995
That’s one of the great Chateau Rayas Blanc wines from the vintage of 1995. This is a rare white wine that has a remarkable aging potential and well-preserved freshness. This white wine blend has elegant honey and pear flavors complemented by a citrusy aroma and mineral undertones. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve Blanc 1995: $565
9. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve Blanc 2001
Another white blend wine with amazing honey, almond, and citrus taste. The wine stands out with its finesse, creamy texture, and potent aromas of peach and apricot. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve Blanc 2001: $667
10. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve Blanc 2009
This younger Rayas Blanc dry wine has well-balanced acidity that combines well with its honey taste and rich oily texture. On the palate, it has beautiful pear and apricot flavors accompanied by sandalwood, spice, and roasted nut aroma. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve Blanc 2009: $580
Investing in Chateau Rayas Wines
The Chateau’s unique winemaking practices and limited production of bottles make Rayas wines a highly collectible item. Besides that, Chateau Rayas wines age exceptionally well. On average, a bottle of Chateau Rayas would age for about 6-10 years. When stored properly, it can age for up to three decades and some exceptional vintages – even beyond that. The release prices per bottle have skyrocketed as well, thanks to its increasing secondary market prices. Over the last two years (Jan 2019 to Jan 2021), Rayas wines showed a 45% increase in global average retail price. A case of Chateau Rayas 2005 priced at $3,880+ in 2010 traded at $12,300+ in 2020 – a 275% price appreciation. The Chateau Rayas wines do well at auctions too. For example, at the recent online wine auction in 2020 organized by Straus and Co., six bottles of Chateau Rayas 2005 were sold for $882 per bottle. Let’s see the easiest way you can invest in some of these great Chateau Rayas wines!
AUTHOR: Brent Akamine
DATE PUBLISHED: June 2, 2021