TN: 2012 Château Rayas Côtes du Rhône La Pialade

2012 Château Rayas Côtes du Rhône La Pialade - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône (9/10/2020)
In a restaurant (very decent price) so PnP. First ever experience with this wine. Surprising and very good! Light red color. The nose is superb on the very first pour: intense floral notes, red fruits and some herbal aromatics. The palate is also very enjoyable but does not do the honor to the nose. Still, really good first sip as well: red fruits and herbs, very elegant, good concentration (who could have guessed from the color), beautiful balance of tannins-acidity-bitterness, a hint of minerality at the end of it all and decent length. A lot of enjoyment for the price. I’ll have to revisit this over various vintages. It worked really well with kidneys in light cream and mustard sauce, white mushrooms and roasted potatoes (not so much with the cold cauliflower velouté as a starter though…).

Crazy that this is the last cut of fruit for Rayas and still delivers vs. normal SRP.

Opened three bottles of this, bought on release. Two were garbage and ended up down the sink. One was ok. More interesting from a restaurant, provided you can send the bad ones back.

What were the issues with the two bad ones? Too bretty? TCA? Is this a constant and known issue or plain old bad luck?
Because, if this is a constant then yes, absolutely, restaurant might be the way to go!

After having tasted La Pialade, I don’t think the long slow-ox Reynaud recommended approach applies to this one so PnP in a restaurant is fine (for an 8 year old bottle that is).

The bottles were terribly astringent, and there was a very bizarre grapefruit note on them. It’s not a popular opinion, but I don’t think the Emmanuel-era Rayas wines hold up that well. As far as top-tier CdP goes, I’d much rather have Celestins or Jacques Perrin.

I had the exact same experience with a bottle the Domaine des Tours Vin de Pays and when I complained about it online I was quickly told by someone that “yeah but you’re suppose slow-ox the wine for 24h and it will turn out fine”. Of course my other bottle of the very same vintage was singing with no decanting/slow-oxing whatsoever.

Thank you both! Considering this and the fact that La Pialade is hard to find, I might keep it as a restaurant purchase. For my Chateau des Tours Vacqueyras, I plan on using the Reynaud Technique (24 to 48h slow-ox).

It is not justified to take the bottom line of Rayas (Pialade which is made from the remains mostly of Fonsalette) and des Tours VdPays - and assume Rayas don t age well.
I had a very youthful Vacqueyras CdT 2001 in summer and a very fine Rayas 1999.

To be clear, my statement was not based on extrapolating the entry-level Rayas wines.

Ok, but I disagree reg. Rayas Reservee too. I had many mature and great bottles
The 2 Pialade bottles sound like heat damaged

In the case of the des Tours line-up (I have never had Pialade and too few Rayases to make a judgment), I am not a great beleiver in the 24 hour slow ox method. It’s clear effect is to turn the bright fruit on opening to a mellower and more complex palate and nose and I see its point. Having experimented with this method, with shorter periods of aeration and decanting, I find that I get the best efffects with from a three hour decant or a six hour slow ox. In different ways, these methods give some of the complexity while preserving more of the fruit. Different tastes will react differently. My experience with des Tours does not remotely match Ikkal’s and I think the wines are very good indeed, though completely overpriced in the U.S.

I usually do 4-5 h slow-ox when possible, never 24 h

I like CdT and Rayas wines a lot but I’ve had more bottle variation than with most producers. I had a few slightly oxidized bottles of Pialade 2007 several years ago, one in a restaurant in France and one from my cellar. I don’t have any reason to suspect poor shipping or storage at least on my bottle, as it came through normal channels that have been very reliable.

There’s also the 2009 CDT Cotes du Rhône which apparently had secondary fermentation, and can range from normal to pretty fizzy.

Some of the Vacqueyras and Vaucluse have been a bit variable too, though I haven’t had any really bad bottles.

My experience was/is that there is bottle variation as one bottle was absolutely stellar and the other undrinkable. I still buy these wines in France and in restaurants when the price is right, which is to say that I did not mean to generalize about anything.

I drink these quite frequently when I am in France as I stay near the domaine and buy from them and the wine is also on the lists of local restaurants at reasonable prices. Other than the occasional corked bottle (no more frequent than I generally find TCA, which has been lless frequently the last ten or fifteen years) I have not noticed variation. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.

I’ve seen many diverging view points on this method (24h+ slow-ox in bottle) and I have never tried it myself. I’ve read on the web about a side-by-side comparison that was done on Chateau Rayas (can’t remember the vintage or vintages though) and all seemed to agree that the wine was more expressive after 24 hours slow-ox in bottle versus PnP or short decant (one experiment, small group of tasters). I’ve also read that based on the vintage and age, Jacques Reynaud recommended up to 72 hours slow-ox! Now that I think about it though, I think it was always related to Chateau Rayas though, not Chateau des Tours.

My next to drink will be the Vacqueyras 2008 but I wasn’t thinking of touching it before 2025+. Being that I have a single bottle, I might chicken out of the 24 hour slow-ox approach and use a regular pop, taste and decant approach. I’ll see upon pulling the cork and having a taste.

The slow ox instructions I get from des Tours, which entail pouring about half a glass out of the bottle and into a glass, does allow you to taste on opening and over the period you are slow oxing. I have done side by side comparisons for myself before I came to the conclusions I wrote above.

These wines are totally singular. The combination of spice, bright red fruit and citrus give them a real Burgundian appeal. I’m also saddened by what has happened to the price as when I was first buying Pialade 10ish years ago it was ~$30USD and I would buy as much as I could. The new normal of $100+ is getting kinda crazy. Having said that I’m not convinced there is a current release substitute in the Southern Rhone. The closest alternative I think would be something Pinot Noir based.

I have also experienced some bottles from the Rayas stable that are overly dominated by citrus (grapefruit, orange, lemon). The 2006 Des Tours Vacqueras for me fell into this category. I didn’t quite like it as much as I would expect from a Rayas wine. I’ve had this '12 Pialade several times now and while it’s very citrus heavy (orange peel) and I wish there was more red fruit and spice, it’s still a wonderful wine. FWIW the '11 was in better balance and more spice. Liked that one more for sure. Now I’m wondering if 24+ hours of air might bring it into better balance. Can’t say I’ve experienced any kind of extreme bottle variation like A. So is reporting. But maybe I’m just more open to the citrus driven style. I’ve never had Boneau Celestins, but I’d take a Rayas wine over anything from Beaucastel every day.

Based on what? Purchased on release, and stored at 55F.
I have never had heat damage present as grapefruit peel.

I’ve only seen Pialade in a store once, in all these years. Some wineshop in GCT years ago. And weirdly enough someone brought a bottle to a tasting not longer after!

I’d like to try one again.