Château Rieussec has been a leading wine in Sauternes for several generations. Ranked as a Premier Grand Cru in 1855, it is made with a subtle blend of Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle. Production varies a great deal depending on the vintage, but on average is about 6,000 cases (however, none was made in 1977, 1993 and 2012).
From 90 to 95% Sémillon, 5 to 10% Muscadelle and Sauvignon. Ageing in oak barrels from 18 to 26 months depending on the year, 50 to 55% in new barrels.
In the 18th century, the Rieussec estate belonged to the Carmes de Langon monks. The confiscation of the estate during the revolution led to its public sale around 1790 as an “object of national heritage” to Mr. Marheilhac, the period’s owner of Château La Louvière at Léognan.
For the 1855 classification, M. Mayne was the owner of the estate. The quality of the Rieussec soil earned its ranking as a first growth Sauternes and Barsac. After that date, Rieussec’s history involves many changes of owners: Charles Crepin (around 1870), Paul Defolie (1892), Mr. Bannil (1907), then the Gasqueton family (owner of Château Calon-Ségur at Saint Estèphe), P.F. Berry during the war (an American citizen and brother-in-law of the Vicomte de Bouzet), Mr. Balaresque (1957) and lastly, Albert Vuillier (1971), who was passionate about Sauternes “sweet wines”.
Château Rieussec was acquired by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) in 1984. The estate then included 110 hectares, including 68 hectares of vineyards. To enhance Château Rieussec’s potential, stern measures were implemented, including meticulous sorting of berries and fermenting in barrels, which provides a superior selection for blending fine wines.
A new cellar was built in 1989 to extend ageing in barrels.The fine wine was produced in a far inferior volume in the 1990’s due to more meticulous selection, to the point that none at all was produced in 1993.
In 2000, renovations to the ageing cellar, construction of a fermenting cellar, and the technological modification of the receiving and pressuring rooms also represented strides forward in a quality policy undertaken since 1985.
The first attempts at selection were rewarded by the remarkable triad of vintages in 1988, 1989 and 1990. But then from 1995 to 2005, a whole decade of very good wines crowned the efforts. The weather had no effect on the remarkable vintages of 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005 among others! Château Rieussec 2001 was furthermore singled out by Wine Spectator magazine as Wine of the Year in 2004.