The spirit of Jacques Reynaud, the godfather of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is always present at the storied estate of Château Rayas. When this legendary founder died suddenly in 1997, his wife asked their nephew, Emmanuel Reynaud, to take the reins at both Château Rayas and Château de Fonsalette. Already making wines at his father’s Château des Tours, Emmanuel agreed.
Somewhat reclusive and to be found working his vineyards at most any time of day, every day, Emmanuel does not revel in the fame and notoriety that come with making such sought-after and acclaimed wines. Instead, he continues to quietly but successfully carry the mantle of his famous forebears, producing hauntingly aromatic wines at his three estates: Château Rayas, Château des Tours, and Château de Fonsalette.
Rayas is a secluded estate northeast of the village, not far from Courthézon. It is unusual because its 13 hectares of vines are north facing and contain none of the fabled round pebbles (galets roulés), and the vineyard is surrounded by forest. During vinification, each varietal of every vineyard is fermented separately in oak casks, with assemblage taking place in enamel-lined tanks before bottling. Fermentation is allowed to begin naturally with no inoculation of yeasts in 80-100-year-old foudres. “These foudres were around when my grandfather was alive, and he bought them secondhand,” says Emmanuel.
There is a clear through-line in all the wines produced by Emmanuel — a unique weighty, aromatic, complex, and savory signature of all the wines that places them among the most well-regarded, sought-after bottles of the appellation.
Martine’s Wines is the exclusive U.S. importer Château de Fonsalette.