Chateau Rieussec R de Rieussec Blanc 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 88-90
For several generations, Chateau Rieussec has been the leading name in Sauternes wines. As early as 1868, Charles Cocks remarked “Beyond any of the others, Rieussec produces wines very similar to Yquem wines”. Extensive pruning and the sparing use of natural fertilizer helps keep production low. The techniques remain traditional and specific to the Sauternes region. In terms of yields, the traditional reference is that a single vine should produce a bottle of wine. Here, though, a single vine produces about a glass of wine. Traditional fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats and can last as long as two months. The wine is aged for 16 to 26 months in oak barrels, produced mostly at Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) cooperage and half are renewed each year. Classified "Premier Grand Cru" in 1855, Rieussec has held its reputation and the quality of its wine, throughout the difficult years which Sauternes properties have been through. Albert Vuillier, who took over in 1971, has paid special attention to the development of the vineyard and pushed the standard of the wines produced to the highest level. This policy has paid dividends, since in recent years, Rieussec has received particular acclaim in numerous tastings of the "Premier Cru" of Sauternes. In 1985, wishing to consolidate Rieussec's position, Albert Vuillier entered into partnership with Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) to go even further in the elusive search for the perfect Sauternes.
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.