"It was at Château Rayas about 20 years ago. We visited Monsieur Reynaud, and normally he didn’t like visitors. We went with a friend of ours who said, 'Watch out, he could come out with a shotgun – anything’s possible.' But he was the sweetest old man I’d ever come across, and he didn’t have a shotgun, and when he found out we were Australians, he said, 'I love shiraz,' and then he said, 'Can I show you something?'
So he went off to a barrel and he came back with a couple of dirty, broken glasses and he dropped the wine into them and said, 'Try these.' Prue [Henschke's wife and viticulturist] and I smelled it, and it was the most exotic-smelling shiraz we'd ever come across. Just full of spices and star anise and violets and lavender and amazing aromas.
It was really dark and intense, really structured, a beautiful layered wine. And it was just some little thing that he was doing on the side.
He wasn’t interested in showing us his grenaches, which we wanted to try; he wanted to show us this exotic shiraz he’d made. It was a gorgeous wine. It was still in barrel and that was probably in 1992, so it could have been from 1991 or 1990.
We haven’t had it again since. It was just a one-off. I don’t know whether he blended it into his Château de Fonsalette or something like that. It would be interesting to know, but he’s not around any more so I can’t ask him!"
As told to Rebecca Gibb