Chateau Rayne Vigneau Le Sec de Rayne Vigneau 2013
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Château de Rayne Vigneau’s vineyard lies on a splendid gravel mound, overlooking Sauternes near the village of Bommes and forming the third highest point in the area after Yquem. Back in the 17th century, “Vigneau de Bommes” was the original name for the vineyard, the château, the surrounding estate and, finally, the de Vigneau family, who were the first lords of the manor. Gabriel de Vigneau is indeed mentioned in documents as early as 1635. His son, Étienne, married Jeanne Sauvage, daughter of the Lord of Yquem, and supervised the estate starting 1681. Madame de Rayne, née Catherine de Pontac, bought the Domaine du Vigneau in 1834.
The official 1855 classification recognised Vigneau among the top wines of Sauternes. In 1867, the well-known wine broker Daney ranked it in first place, immediately after Yquem. Albert de Pontac, a great-nephew of Madame de Rayne, named the estate “Rayne Vigneau” in her honour.
The property also produces a very small quantity (3,000 cases) of an exceptional dry white wine. Le Sec de Rayne Vigneau comes from 7 hectares on the estate that are dedicated to just dry white production. This is unusual because most Sauternes estates will produce dry white wines from the berries that have not been attacked by botrytis. However, Rayne Vigneau’s philosophy to make dry white wines from parcels that are cultivated to make just dry whites produces a superior white wine and probably one of the top dry white wines from Bordeaux. In 2002, the entire estate benefitted from a restructuring of the vineyards and the construction of a 100% temperature controlled fermentation facility and aging cellar. These 7 hectares (along with the other 77 hectares used for the Sauternes) have benefited from substantial investments carried out at the property based on the work and study of the terroir conducted by the expert Xavier Chone . Plots of insufficient density were replanted; rootstock and clones were matched to the terroir; 12 hectares were uprooted, while only four hectares were replanted; the canopy was raised for superior photosynthesis.
One of the most important wine regions of the world, Bordeaux is a powerhouse producer of wines of all colors, sweetness levels, and price points. Separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a coastal pine forest, this relatively flat region has a mild maritime climate, marked by cool wet winters and warm summers. Annual weather differences create significant vintage variations, making Bordeaux an exciting region to follow.
The Gironde estuary, a defining feature of Bordeaux, separates most of the region into the Left Bank and the Right Bank. Farther inland, where the Gironde splits into the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers, the bucolic, rolling hills of the area in between, called Entre-Deux-Mers, is a source of great quality, approachable reds and whites.
The Left Bank, dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, contains the Médoc, Graves, and Sauternes, as well as the region’s most famous chateaux. Merlot is important here as the perfect blending grape for Cabernet Sauvignon adding plush fruit and softening Cabernet's sometimes hefty tannins. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec may also be used in the Left Bank blends.
Merlot is the principal variety of the Right Bank; Cabernet Franc adds structure and complexity to Merlot, creating wines that are concentrated, supple, and more imminently ready for drinking, compared with their Left Bank counterparts. Key appellations of the Right Bank include St. Emilion and Pomerol.
Dry and sweet white wines are produced throughout the region from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and sometimes Muscadelle or Sauvignon Gris. Some of the finest dry whites can be found in the the Graves sub-appellation of Pessac-Léognan, while Sauternes is undisputedly the gold standard for sweet wines. Small amounts of rosé and sparkling wine are made in Bordeaux as well.
Sometimes light and crisp, other times rich and creamy, Bordeaux White Blends typically consist of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Often, a small amount of Muscadelle or Sauvignon Gris is included for added intrigue. Popularized in Bordeaux, the blend is often mimicked throughout the New World. Somm Secret—Sauternes and Barsac are usually reserved for dessert, but they can be served before, during or after a meal. Try these sweet wines as an aperitif with jamón ibérico, oysters with a spicy mignonette or during dinner alongside hearty Alsatian sausage.