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Senior editor James Molesworth joined Wine Spectator in 1997. He reviews Bordeaux, the Loire, the Rhône, South Africa and New York's Finger Lakes.
James Molesworth

A Fresh White from a Hot Vintage

Château Rayas Côtes du Rhône White Château de Fonsalette Réservé 2003

James Molesworth
Posted: February 11, 2009

With the tough economy these days, you're likely to see retailers "dumping" inventory—that is, dramatically reducing prices on older vintages of wine they've been sitting on in order to make room for new releases. Savvy customers can usually find some really fun deals—though you'll typically have to move fast when and if you see an offering.

One store was blowing out its remaining stock of this tasty white Rhône, a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Marsanne, for just $30—a nice break over its earlier price of $45. Knowing the store in question has good storage conditions, I pounced on a few bottles.

The 2003 vintage was known for its heat, and many of the Rhône whites can be a touch blowsy, but owner and vigneron Emmanuel Reynaud managed to keep some freshness in his whites, despite the vintage character.

The wine is typically made in a slightly waxy, broad, traditional style, and that's here, with paraffin and lemon pound cake notes, but it's still really fresh, with lively salted butter and chamomile hints too. It's delicious right out of the bottle, but develops a nice creamy edge as it airs out—so some of you may prefer decanting it. I rated it 90 points, non-blind.

Château Rayas Côtes du Rhône White Château de Fonsalette Réservé 2003 (90, $53)

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