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News

The art of Metamorphosis

Imagining the consumption of Sauternes by positioning it as an accompaniment to a contemporary art of living.

In recent years, consumption of Sauternes has become rarer, limited to end-of-year celebrations, to foie gras once a year and desserts from time to time. And yet… How could it be shown that there is much more hidden behind this word “Sauternes”? How could the image of this wine be changed, to reveal all that its production implies, behind its golden labels?

For Rieussec and Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite, it was urgent to act and put the spotlight on this region and the magic that is worked to produce these very great wines. In the light of the ecological transition stimulated, supported and accomplished by Saskia de Rothschild in all the family properties that she directs today, Rieussec had to signify this rebirth through a highly symbolic act of re-enchantment and break some codes to assert its personality, attract curiosity and evoke desire.

The time had come for Rieussec to reinvent itself, so that the vineyard, wine and bottle all share the same commitment to sustainable development, from agriculture that is more respectful of the environment through to the preservation of natural resources provided by our new packaging,” explains Saskia de Rothschild. “Devising an original bottle, one that you want to keep when it’s finished, is part of this same philosophy.

A durable bottle

This little revolution relies on a new durable bottle: the wine leaves behind the classic wine bottle format in favour of non-transparent 95% recycled glass marked with a simple yellow crown, to become a new kind of guest of honour. The bottle also has a replaceable cork closure, designed by Swiss design agency BIG GAME, to encourage those who open it to keep it: because when the cork is replaced, Sauternes can be stored for several weeks in the fridge, making it a versatile aperitif wine with many lives. And after enjoying the wine, it is easy to remove the label and turn the bottle into a water jug or vase.

The 2019 vintage

And inside the bottle? “We have chosen the 2019 vintage to be the first to go into the new bottle,” explains Jean de Roquefeuil, estate director. “The wine we produced that year corresponds well to our new identity, having an assertive aromatic freshness while retaining its classic soul.” It should be noted that few products demand as much resilience to the climate and depend as much on the weather. Because it is only in Sauternes and thanks to the Ciron river that botrytis, or noble rot, forms on the grapes and develops to give the wines their unique richness. “Each vintage is totally different depending on what nature, the climate and the action of noble rot want to give us, and even more so since we are undergoing conversion to a more responsible form of agriculture,” adds Jean de Roquefeuil.

Now, it remains to see these bottles start their new lives at tables everywhere. For its launch, Rieussec has organised various meals: whether at the estate for a country lunch with products from the Sauternes region, at Mokonuts for an intimate vegetarian dinner cooked by chefs Moko and Omar or at the Grand Bol for an Asian culinary celebration cooked by the owner with young chef Pierre Touitou, Rieussec has definitively learnt how to reinvent itself.

Available at the end of November in wine shops and restaurants

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History

In the 18th century, the Rieussec estate belonged to the Carmelite monks in Langon. The confiscation of the estate during the revolution led to its public sale around 1790 as a “object of national heritage” to Mr. Marheilhac, the then owner of Château La Louvière in 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 consisted of 110 hectares, 68 hectares of which were vines. To enhance Château Rieussec’s potential, rigorous measures were implemented, including meticulous sorting of the grapes and fermenting in barrels, which provides a much finer selection for the blending of the Grand Vin.

 

A new cellar was built in 1989 to extend the ageing period in barrels. The quantities of the Grand Vin that were produced were much reduced in the 1990’s due to more meticulous selection, to the point that none at all was produced in 1993 (this was also the case in 1977 and again in 2012).

 

In 2000, the renovation of the maturing cellar, the construction of a fermentation room, and the modernisation of the reception and pressing areas also represented strides forward in a quality policy that was launched  in 1985.

 

The first attempts at selection were rewarded by a remarkable trio of vintages in 1988, 1989 and 1990. This was crowned by an entire decade of very good wines from 1995 to 2005. The weather proved to be no obstacle for the remarkable vintages of 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005, among others! Furthermore, Château Rieussec 2001 was declared Wine of the Year in 2004 by Wine Spectator magazine. 

 

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Vineyards

The Château Rieussec vineyard extends to the border of Fargues and Sauternes, and adjoins Château d’Yquem. Rieussec is one of the largest properties in Sauternes and Barsac, the vineyard covers 93 hectares of gravelly soil layered with alluvial deposits.

The iconic grape variety of Sauternes, Sémillon dominates (90%), followed by Sauvignon (7%) and Muscadelle (3%). Traditional Sauternes techniques are used and the harvests are carried out with selective pickings depending on the ripeness of the grapes and evolution of botrytis cinerea (noble rot). They last for 6 to 8 weeks from September to November.

Production is low and firmly in the hands on Mother Nature. The traditional saying is that a single vine should produce a bottle of wine. Here, though, a single vine produces about a glass of wine! The vineyard is managed by Charles Chevallier, Technical Director of the Bordeaux Châteaus, with the help of Jean de Roquefeuil, Vineyard Manager, and Serge Lagardère, Cellar Master. 

 

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Winemaking

Wines are fermented in barrels. The yields are sorted and each parcel is identified and isolated in a batch of barrels, in order to judge whether or not it can be used in the Grand Vin after fermentation. Several tastings from each barrel are then performed in order to ensure a rigorous selection for the Grand Vin.

The cellars are located in the heart of the Château Rieussec vineyard at Fargues. Each vintage ages in oak barrels produced mostly at DBR’s cooperage. Half of them are renewed every year. The length of ageing in barrels varies from 16 to 26 months, during which the wines are periodically racked. The wines are bottled at the Château.

Production at Château Rieussec and Carmes de Rieussec varies a great deal depending on the vintage, but on average it is 12,000 cases per year. Rieussec also produces small quantities of a dry white wine, “R” de Rieussec.

 

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Winemaking since 1790

  • Baron Eric de Rothschild

    "The wines of Sauternes are so wonderful that we wanted to have our own, and Rieussec’s vineyard is outstanding”

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Wine Moments

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 Château Rieussec  has news

The art of Metamorphosis Imagining the consumption of Sauternes by positioning it as an accompani  more ...

6m 26d ago

 Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Rieussec . In a tasting of  24 wines 

Gaja Sori Tildin 2017 / Coming from a warmer, south-facing site, the 2016 Barbaresco Sori Tildin is a more concentrated, vibrant wine compared to the straight Barbaresco and has vivid notes of bright cherry fruits, rose petals, road tar, violets and even a hint of orange blossom. Incredible on the palate, with medium to full body, an incredible, seamless texture, ultra-fine tannins, and a monster finish. The tannins here are unquestionably on another level and are perfectly ripe, and this just about off-the-charts 2016 has a Grand Cru Red Burgundy-like texture, elegance, and stature. This bottle didn't hit prime time until the second day, so either give bottles a healthy decant or, even better, 5-7 years in a cold cellar.

1y 4m ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Rieussec . In a tasting of  185 wines 

BWW2021 competition finals were filled with superb lineup of the world's greatest wines and superb finds from various price categories. The finals that were run in various blind tasting sessions, revealed many surprises. Most commonly, the fact that all the wines were so enjoyable already at this young stage, although many of them will deliver so much more after ageing of 10-15 years. Congratulations for all the winners!

1y 5m ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Wine Writer (South Korea)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Rieussec . In a tasting of  18 wines 

Domaine Liger-Belair, La Romanée Grand Cru, Burgundy, 2011/ Seductive nose with complex layers of flavours that are persistent and long. Gorgeous wines with focus, depth and a profile that ranges from flowers, spices and herbs to red berry fruits. Delicate, persistent and classy.


2y 7m ago

 Zhao Dao Lee / Wine Importer, Wine Importer (China)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Rieussec . In a tasting of  13 wines 

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte 2018 / Already very approachable with an alluring whiff of cocoa that lures you in before disappearing into the core of steeped plum, roasted fig and blackberry coulis notes. Sandalwood, black tea and loam elements fill in on the long and expansive finish.Very good indeed!

2y 11m ago

 Gérard Renoux, Sommelier (France)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Rieussec . In a tasting of  5 wines 

Château d' Yquem 1967 / A very good vintage in Sauternes, and one of the best wine from Yquem ever. Fairly deep and focused, it's ripe and packed with loads of dried apricot flavor--an intense botrytized character that brings out a pleasant bite.

2y 11m ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Rieussec . In a tasting of  33 wines 

Sauternes had a very long hanging time in 2018 due to the dry and hot autumn which created very little botrytis. The wines ending up rich and refreshing with a sweet purity and fairly nice acidity as most managed their pH levels well, but they lack some of the complexity found in vintages with more prolonged botrytis.

3y 1m ago

 Markus Del Monego MW/BWW2022-Best Germany Wine Critic of the World, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Rieussec . In a tasting of  100 wines 

Bordeaux 2018 - TOP 100 Wines. "The best vintage of my live" says Christian Moueix of the Ets. Jean Pierre Moueix in Libourne. In fact, 2018 is a vintage with wonderfully ripe tannins which taste almost sweet and are characterizing wine with excellent structured. However this vintage was everything else than easy-going. The first six months of the year saw the complete annual rainfall for the Bordeaux region, over 800mm. Mildew attacked the grapes, what meant a reduction in quantity but as the leaves have not been attacked the maturity process continued and the lower yields brought concentrated grapes. Another problem where hailstorms bringing further damage. Some Châteaux like Château Guiraud have lost the complete harvest. "We went from hell to heaven" summarizes Véronique Sanders from Château Haut-Bailly in Pessac-Léognan the vintage. After the deluge in the first half of 2018, there was a dramatic change for the second half bringing great, dry weather with a lot of sun. The partially high daily temperatures were in change with lower night temperatures and created a tension for aromatic wines. The correct amount of extraction and maceration was crucial and some vintners have changed their maceration processes and made great wines with a lot of freshness. These vintners are amongst the winners of the vintage. If 2018 will belong to the greatest vintages in Bordeaux for the overall production might show the future. However already today there is a number of Châteaux performing 

3y 2m ago

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