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Each year, Wine Spectator editors survey the wines reviewed over the previous 12 months and select our Top 100, based on quality, value, availability and excitement. This annual list honors successful wineries, regions and vintages around the world.

Château Rieussec 2001 was the Wine of the Year in 2004

Like lemon curd on the nose, turning to honey and caramel. Full-bodied and very sweet, with fantastic concentration of ripe and botrytized fruit, yet balanced and refined. Electric acidity. Lasts for minutes on the palate. This is absolutely mind-blowing. This is the greatest young Sauternes I have ever tasted. Best after 2010. 12,500 cases made. —JS 100 points


The Story

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).

Blend:  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





Wine Information

Vintage 2001 / Nothing in the year’s weather could foretell such a great result. The harvests began in mid-September with a preliminary sorting. And then the perfect scenario played out: light rains came on the weekend of the 22-23 September, and botrytis was absorbed by the grapes, causing rapid and uniform concentration, enhanced by a warm and windy Indian summer. The vineyard went from a golden yellow to botrytis violet in just three days. Under the action of the eastern wind, the botrytis wavered and wrinkled, contracting and concentrating the juices. Harvest was quick and concentrated, on a single pass for certain plots, which is unprecedented at Rieussec. In the early tastings, the nose is powerful and dominated by apricot and candied melon notes. In the mouth the attack is delicate and full of finesse. It then develops in volume and an amazing sensation arises in the mouth. The balance between acidity and liquor is so perfect that the sugar totally disappears. This very rare perception can only be experienced with exceptional Sauternes.


Tasting note


Medium, Gold and Bright


Long, Smooth, Round and Alcoholic


Apricot, Viscous, Vanilla, Waxy, Smoky and Honey


Complex, Generous, Refined and Open




Average in Acidity, High alcohol content, Concentrated, Well-structured, Balanced, Medium-bodied, Rich, Silky, Elegant and Sweet


Full-bodied and Impressive

Written Notes

Oh the anticipation! 2001 is, for me, one of the greatest Sauternes vintages of the past hundred years (okay, fair enough, I have not tried all of them but I have tried a number of wines from the truly great years and the stunning quality of the '01s is right up with anything). And Rieussec is always one of the best. This is no Yquem – but then that is unquestionably a 100 point wine by any standard. That said, it is still a monumental wine. Intensely flavoured, finely balanced, concentrated and just sooooo long. There are notes of orange rind and honey, and plenty of apricot. A complex wine with many years ahead. Oh, how I’d love a case (okay, I’d prefer a case of the 2001 Yquem, but I’d like world peace too). Just a lovely wine. 97
  • 97p

The 2001 Rieussec is deeper in color than its peers, though this did come from a half-bottle. The bouquet features marmalade, peach and mango scents, though I aver that it does not deliver the mineralité of other, dare I say, more successful vintages. The palate is much better, offering harmonious honeyed fruit, marmalade, orange peel, apricot and light gingerbread notes. It feels long and tender on the finish. This is a great Rieussec that is slightly compromised by the aromatics.

  • 93p
Rich nose, apricots, vanilla, feels tight, that ball again. Still typically Rieussec rich and flamboyant. Fresher acidity than most Rieussec's, lots of fruit, and to be a real pain in the arse, for my palate, the acidity could still be fresher. But for once, the Rieussec bottle was finished. Long.
  • 94p
Some development of the colour here already. Some rich barley sugar touches to the nose intermingled with a fair degree of volatility. The palate is slightly drier than I expected but otherwise well balanced despite a somewhat disappointing lack of complaxity. Seems a little flat.
  • 89p
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Bordeaux, Sauternes

Vintage Quality


Value For Money

Best buy

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Below Average

Fake factory

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