Jacques Reynaud, who died in 1997, was one of the true characters in Châteauneuf. A notoriously shy and private man, he was known to avoid appointments by hiding in ditches that lined the rutted driveway leading to his château. However, he was recognised as one of the world's greatest winemakers and the legacy of Château Rayas is now continued by his son François.
So many practices here seem to run contrary to other producers in Châteauneuf - the 13 hectares of vines are north facing and contain none of the fabled "galets roulés". Only Grenache is used and yields at around 15hl/h are ridiculously low. Almost uniquely the wines are matured in the now rarely seen 450 litre "double-piéce" oak casks. These are substantial and exotically rich wines that are quite literally unique.
The Château Rayas vineyards are to be found near the cellars up a dirt road about 2 miles north of Châteauneuf-du-Pape behind Château Vaudieu. The Côtes-du-Rhône vineyards of Chateau de Fonsalette are at Lagarde-Paréol (near Suze-la-Rousse and Sainte-Cecile-les-Vignes). Jacques Reynaud believed that great wine produced so far south must come from north facing slopes. This is the case at Rayas. Because of the cool microclimate and "terroir", Rayas is usually the last to harvest at Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
One could become addicted to Rayas wines. The rich aromatic herbal reds and the intense complex whites. The red wines are unique. Contrary to the common belief that good Châteauneuf-du-Pape should be made from a blend of grape varieties, at Rayas only the Grenache is used and only old vines from north facing slopes. The result is a wine that will age for 20 years or more. A longer than normal period in cask only adds to the complexity and depth of the wines. These wines are full of personality. The Château Rayas red has a huge exotic bouquet with hints of black-cherry fruit and staggering concentration. On the palate the wine is almost Port like in texture with great intensity and gorgeous voluptuous flavours.