Ask most anyone to name three of the greatest wine-makers in the Côtes du Rhône and you should hear the name Château Rayas and Château Fonsalette in the mix. I have not had many bottles of Fonsalette so I can’t offer much on that front, however I did stash away a few cases of Rayas back in the early 90’s and I still, every now and again, pull out a bottle and simply marvel at it’s greatness. The estate itself is shrouded in mystery. Robert Parker, when describing the 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape (98+) said this: “One of the world's most mysterious estates is Chateau Rayas. This small 30-acre estate is owned by the Reynaud family, which dates back to the late 19th century. The estate has always had an image of secrecy and seclusion… Following the death of Jacques Reynaud in 1997, his nephew, Emmanuel took over, and he continues to produce wines that go from strength to strength. A cool climate property in a hot zone, Rayas is tucked away in a forest with its vineyards basically one parcel of sandy soil. Emmanuel Reynaud, who is also the proprietor of the outstanding Vacqueyras estate called Domaine des Tours, has the same eccentric idiosyncrasies as his uncle.”
When Jacques Reynaud died suddenly back in 1997 his wife asked their nephew, Emmanuel Reynaud, to make the wines and continue the history of this famed estate. Emmanuel was already making the wines at his father’s Château, Château des Tours. He does not revel in the fame and notoriety that comes from making three (he also makes the wine at Fonsalette!) of the greatest and most sought-after wines in the Rhone, rather he views himself still as a simple farmer. One who farms organically, manually plows his vineyards with a horse and plow, tends his vines every day, and many nights, but unlike his uncle, he does allow visitors to meet him at Château des Tours.
Over the years, as collectors have snapped up everything worthy of either a great score or simply because of their scarcity, it has become more and more difficult to obtain any wines from these three estates. My first opportunity to buy wines from Des Tours came last year - my allocation? 9 bottles. I’m afraid I kept them for myself. This year my allocation has increased to a whopping 21 bottles! I have 12 bottles of the 2014 VdP Vaucluse Rouge, 6 bottles of the 2014 Côtes du Rhônes Rouge and 3 bottles of the 2011 Vacqueyras.
2014 Château des Tours VdP Vauclus 12 bottles $30 bottle
A blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Counoise, Syrah, Merlot and Dious. During vinification, each varietal of every vineyard is fermented separately and aged in old oak casks with assemblage taking place in enamel-lined tanks before bottling. Fermentation is natural, with no inoculation of yeasts.
2014 Château des Tours Côtes du Rhône Rouge 6 bottles $48 bottle
65% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Cinsault. Same vinification as the Vauclus
2011 Château des Tours Vacqueyras 3 bottles $78 bottle
80% Grenache, 20% Syrah. All fruit is handpicked and destemmed. Only the oldest parcels, almost entirely planted to Grenache, are bottled as Vacqueyras.
That’s all I have! Comments regarding prior vintages range from :
2009 CDR Rouge: A gorgeous effort that has fabulous aromatics and textural richness, the 2009 Cotes du Rhone dishes out the classic kirsch liqueur, ground pepper, forest floor, lavender and spice-box aromas that always seem present in Emmanuel’s wines RP.
2009 Vacqueyras: The sensational 2009 Vacqueyras should age as well as its 2004 counterpart, but it is a headier cuvee with relatively high alcohol (probably 15+%). It exhibits abundant notes of kirsch liqueur, licorice and raspberry in addition to a full-bodied style filled with fruit and character. Aged completely in tank, it comes across like a family member of the great Chateau Rayas. (RP)
2007 Vacqueyras: This powerhouse boasts stunning levels of kirsch, garrigue, pepper and framboise, a big, full-bodied mouthfeel and super freshness, purity and overall equilibrium. It will benefit from another several years of bottle age and keep for 12-15 years. (RP)
The wines are in-bound the week of April 1 and will be in the store later that week. Please let me know ASAP if you wish to purchase. All orders must be accompanied by a credit card and a 20% restock charge will apply to any cancellations. I suspect that these wines will sell out by tomorrow.