The Rayas Effect

It was 26°F when I took the short walk over to Roland’s house on Monday evening.  We were getting together to drink some Chateauneuf du Pape and eat some pizza.  I brought over a bottle from Domaine Roger Perrin, a name which I had never heard of before.  With Roland’s Janasse opened we sat down and started drinking.  The Roger Perrin possessed a really good nose that revealed its bottle age.  In the mouth it was elegant, almost Burgundian according to Roland, but still clung to firmness.  The Janasse was clearly younger and riper but was actually modest in that it did not give up its hot origins from the 2003 vintage.  It was really good.  The wines were both different and enjoyable for that.  I rotated between them as we ate.  The music cut in and out as the strong gusts of wind knocked over anything loose including large garbage cans.

I do not recall how but it came up that I had never drunk a bottle of Chateau Rayas.  Roland did not skip a beat, asked if I wanted to drink Rayas, how could I refuse, so we liberated a bottle of 2005 from his basement.  We each had a small pour before it went into the decanter.  The first taste was very good but then it opened up.  It was obvious that this bottle was in a different league.  It possessed a balance I had not come across before which allowed it to be drunk with great pleasure but also exhibit the ability to develop and improve for many years.  Though the lightest in color it was the most aromatic and flavorful.  The music came back on as the wind made something loudly crash in the backyard.  We both got up and I noticed I could still taste and feel the Rayas in my mouth.  I revisited the other wines, particularly following the Rayas with the Roger Perrin.  The Roger Perrin was actually quite good.  I drunk my share, one should not spit Rayas, then walked home in 12°F temperature.  The types of wine served and order tasted clearly influence one’s perception.  But it did occur to me later that perhaps the Rayas aftertaste was still in my mouth while I was tasting the Roger Perrin.


1998 Domaine Roger Perrin, Reserve des Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape
This wine is a blend of 70-75% Grenache, 10-15% Syrah, 8-12% Mourvedre, 4% Cinsault, Vaccarese, and Counoise sourced from 90+ year old vines.    It was aged 12-14 months in casks and large barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a complex nose which persisted all evening.  In the mouth was lots of acidity with red and black fruit.  The wine itself was firm and still possessed structure.  The wine proved elegant and scented with cherry berries.  It was a touch simpler in the finish.  **** Now-2024.


2003 Domaine de la Janasse, Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by MacArthur Beverages.  This wine is a blend of  85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 3% Mourvedre, and 2% other varieties.  It was aged in old foudres and some new oak.   Alcohol 15%.  Very aromatic, intense notes of fresh and ripe berries which hover above the glass.  In the mouth were very fresh berries that become sappy and took on a wood note.  There was density, a fine ripe texture, and good acidity.  Great balance and very approachable, I would not guess it from such a hot vintage.  **** Now-2026.


2005 Chateau Rayas, Reserve, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Martine’s Wines Inc.  This wine is 100% Grenache vinified in both concrete and enamel vats followed by 12 months aging in old casks.  Alcohol 14%.  The lightest color of all three wines.  An incredible nose of scented berries and garrigue.  There were very fresh flavors in the mouth which continued as the wine opened up rapidly with air.  The fruit, acidity, and resolved tannins were impeccably balanced so much so that the wine was both drinking perfectly yet able to develop for the long-term.  There was great depth and texture to the cherry fruit, and spices.  The incredibly long finish boasted minerals and was matched by the persistent aftertaste.  Effortless. ***** Now-2029.

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