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Crayas for Rayas! -The Sensational Côtes du Rhônes of Domaine des Tours

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Among the legendary estates of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Château Rayas is perhaps the the most storied, although Beaucastel and Bonneau would certainly make a claim. The wines are elegant, precise, and though southern in cast, display great lift and finesse. Unfortunately, they are made in tiny—nearly anecdotal—quantities. And frankly they are very expensive. This said, they release some fine, more affordable, wines under the Domaine des Tours label, and while these don't have quite the "breed" of the famed Châteauneuf, these age beautifully and gain in nuance and complexity with a few years in the cellar. And while these are by no means cheap, we are confident that these will make for excellent drinking in the mid-term. Happy hunting! John McIlwain

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Domaine des Tours - Reynaud 2015 VdP Vaucluse Rouge

Ruby just bordering on garnet robe. Crushed strawberry, dried rose petals, red plum, spice on the nose. The palate is ripe, but neither blowsy or roasted, red fruits and cherry stone, black tea, and brown spice, with just a touch of game with a bead of salty stone (lime?) and Provençal herbs. This is shows some southern broadness, but even more so that classic Rayas lift on the long palate-clinging finish. The interplay between the sweet red fruit and mineral core is intriguing and deeply satisfying. This is a fine candidate for the cellar as it improves over 3 days. John McIlwain

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Domaine des Tours - Reynaud 2015 Côtes du Rhône Réserve

Dark ruby robe. Nose offers aromas of strawberry compote, kirsch, spice box, and a whiff of game. The palate is stony on the attack, followed by a flush of juicy, ripe red fruit, with a fine-grained spine of tannins to lend gravitas. This has fine sap and is in no way overwrought or hot as can be the case in 2015 but is concentrated and supple with plenty of upside for aging. This is really delicious and has that Rayas flair if not depth (or price) and is highly recommended. A great pairing with lamb loin chops, sugar snap peas and marinated black eyed pea salad. John McIlwain

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