Rhone Royalty - 2006 Chateau Rayas: Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc & Pignan Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Posted by Ian McFadden

The Magic Returns to Rhône Legend
2006 Chateau Rayas:
Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc &
Pignan Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Chateau Rayas is Rhône royalty. No other Chateauneuf estate has produced such mythical wines.

Chateau Rayas truly is one of the most singular estates in France.

In a region of vineyards strewn with rocks baking in the sun, the 10ha Chateau Rayas occupies a unique, cooler microclimate on sandy soils.

Rayas has produced an impressive string of legendary wines. Without a doubt, these are some of the most ageworthy, soulful and profound wines of the Southern Rhône.

Today, we focus on Rayas' benchmark Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc and their value, Pignan Chateauneuf-du-Pape, both from the 2006 vintage.

The pricing is very, very sharp and quantities are very limited.

The style at Rayas has always showcased ripe, opulent fruit with simply dizzying concentrations. Andrew Jefford, as he often does, captures the signature here: "...hauntingly beautiful in character...fat, sweet yet savory."

To start with their 06 Chateauneuf Blanc, a 50/50 blend of Clairette and Grenache Blanc, it is a beautiful example of just how good Chateauneuf Blanc can be. Robert Parker nails it when he writes, "this brilliant example of white Chateauneuf-du-Pape should last for 10-20 years."

Pignan is Rayas' second label. Compared to the intense structure of Rayas proper, Pignan is a little gentler in its youth while maintaining the layers of complexity that makes its big brother so famous. However, make no mistake, Pignan can age - a bottle of 69 was revelatory a couple of years ago.

06 Pignan offers up silky red fruits along with savory notes of roasted herbs cast amidst a stony backdrop.Pignan always offers an impressive value for its pedigree. At $84.95, it clocks in a good 50% less than Rayas CDP Rouge.

2006 is an underrated vintage - the well-balanced and fresh vintage was lost in-between the blockbuster vintages of 2005 and 2007. There's more of a perfume to the wines than from the more concentrated vintages. It's the balance, the harmony and the perfume that make us huge fans of the vintage. The wines have an impressive combination of freshness, balance and an ample layer of fruit. As Rayas' Chateauneuf Blanc makes clear, it's a particularly successful vintage for whites.

For those familiar with Rayas, Jacques Reynaud's death in 1997 marked the end of an era. Reynaud had no children and though his nephew Emmanual Reynaud was brought in to fill the void and worked alongside Jacques' sister Francoise, the wines struggled to live up to their formidable reputation. It seems likely that when the history of Rayas is written, 2005 will mark the return to form and from there Rayas has gone from strength-to-strength with each vintage.

It's nice to see one of France's grand historic estates returning to its former greatness. The only catch is quantities are very limited - this offer is only going to people who have supported the Chateauneuf program.

To order, reply to offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine and Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

Compare at up to $150
Robert Parker: "The stunning 2006 Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc possesses aromas of acacia flowers, honeysuckle, melon, quince, and orange marmalade. Amazingly, this brilliant example of white Chateauneuf du Pape should last for 10-20 years."

Compare at up to $120
Robert Parker: "The medium deep ruby-hued 2006 Pignan Chateauneuf du Pape reveals classic kirsch liqueur, lavender, and licorice scents. It is medium-bodied, silky, soft, and delicious."

2006 Chateau Rayas is pre-arrival.
NET | No further discount