Chateau Rieussec

Listed Wines Rieussec
Owner Domaines Barons de Rothschild
President Baron Eric de Rothschild
Annual Production ​(Grand Vin) 6,000 cases
Classification Premier Cru (First Growths)
Appellation Sauternes
Second Wine Carmes de Rieussec
Interesting Fact Rieussec is the only white Bordeaux produced by Domaines Barons de Rothschild, to the same exacting standards they use in creating the perhaps better known Lafite, Mouton and Duhart-Milon.
Chateau Rieussec

Brand

Though Albert Vuillier made crucial improvements to this estate, it is understandably Domaines de Baron Rothschild who today get most of the credit for Chateau Rieussec’s standing today. It occupies a lofty position in Sauternes, both geographically and in terms of prestige. In either sense, only Chateau d’Yquem stands taller.

As we would expect of any property managed by the Rothschild family, standards are the highest they could possibly be. Grapes are harvested by hand and yields have been pushed down to increase concentration and richness in the Grand Vin. This attention to detail and perfectionism has led to a spate of wonderful vintages over recent years and Rieussec is arguably experiencing a golden age. Despite this, prices remain relatively low. The reasons for this are difficult to ascertain fully. Possible reasons are that the Bordeaux buzz left Sauternes and Barsac relatively unaffected and that wines from these regions were not even legal for export to Hong Kong and China (the biggest emerging fine wine investment markets) until 2010. It could also be argued that outside the UK, where there has long been a dedicated and loyal following, these sweet white wines do not have as prominent an image outside France as do the red wines of Bordeaux.

All the wonderful techniques that DBR practices at its other First Growths, Lafite and Duhart-Milon are very much in evidence here and arguably quality never has been higher. And yet Rieussec is available at prices more befitting a Fourth-Growth than a Premier Cru, just over £50 over bottle on average. In certain years, Rieussec really seems to be treading on d’Yquem’s toes, as with its 2003 vintage, which was scored 96 RPJ points, one point above its rival. And yet there is still a massive price disparity between the two, even in this vintage where Rieussec was ostensibly the better wine (around £51 per bottle compared with £231 for the d’Yquem equivalent vintage).
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Critic Appraisal

Of all the sweet wines of Sauternes, Rieussec is the sweetest. These are incredibly nuanced, complex and precious wines with fresh bouquets displaying honeysuckle, tropical fruit and apricot aromas. Richly perfumed and with a high natural residual sugar content in an average vintage, Rieussec is highly suited to ageing, gradually deepening in colour from light gold, to deeper caramel tones. And arguably, they have never been better, the 2001 (RPJ 99) and 2009 (RPJ 95-97) particular highlights. The 2003 is also astonishing; having beaten Chateau d’Yquem’s offering in what was a fantastic year for Sauternes. It was one of Decanter’s wines of the year and Robert Parker scored it 96 points. With 96/98 points with the Wine Advocate the 2017 might eclipse them all.

"Of all the sweet wines of Sauternes, Rieussec is the sweetest. These are incredibly nuanced, complex and precious wines with fresh bouquets displaying honeysuckle, tropical fruit and apricot aromas. Richly perfumed and with a high natural residual sugar content in an average vintage, Rieussec is highly suited to ageing, gradually deepening in colour from light gold, to deeper caramel tones. And arguably, they have never been better, the 2001 (RPJ 99) and 2009 (RPJ 95-97) particular highlights. The 2003 is also astonishing; having beaten Chateau d’Yquem’s offering in what was a fantastic year for Sauternes. It was one of Decanter’s wines of the year and Robert Parker scored it 96 points. With 96/98 points with the Wine Advocate the 2017 might eclipse them all."

Lisa Perrotti-Brown (96-98 points), Wine Advocate

History

Chateau Rieussec was sequestered following the French Revolution, as were many Bordeaux properties originally under ecclesiastical control, and was eventually auctioned off, thus coming to the Marheilhac family around the turn of the 19th century. Into this next century,  the chateau began to build up a strong reputation for extremely fine Sauternes. It passed hands a number of times, and in this way, developments at Rieussec was overseen by a great number of expert eyes. However, the constant flux of ownership also was to blame for a lack of long-term investment. This unsettled existence continued throughout the early 20th century, with phylloxera damaging the vines and the economic depression stifling investment opportunity further as well as lessening demand for this rich, sweet, celebration wine.

Enter, finally, Albert Vuillier, a supermarket magnate who came to Bordeaux and spotted the latent potential in Rieussec. He bought the property in 1971 and within a few years had begun extensive renovations to the vineyards and fermentation rooms. But the success Vuillier should have had as his reward was robbed by poor conditions through the 1970s which led to a number of disappointing vintages. Unable to find a return on his investments, he sold to Domaines de Barons Rothschild in 1984. Charles Chevallier was installed as winemaker and estate manager, followed in 1994 by Frederic Magniez. They improved standards and Rieussec is now going through somewhat of a golden age.

Their latest release, the 2017 could be the best to date with a barrel score of 96-98 from the Wine Advocate.

Chateau Rieussec Pricing

Wine Vintage Producer Market price Unit size
Rieussec 2017 Chateau Rieussec £495.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2016 Chateau Rieussec £340.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2016 Chateau Rieussec £240.00 6x75cl
Rieussec 2015 Chateau Rieussec £350.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2014 Chateau Rieussec £330.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2014 Chateau Rieussec £170.00 6x75cl
Rieussec 2013 Chateau Rieussec £313.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2012 Chateau Rieussec £299.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2011 Chateau Rieussec £280.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2010 Chateau Rieussec £300.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2009 Chateau Rieussec £320.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2008 Chateau Rieussec £230.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2007 Chateau Rieussec £290.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2006 Chateau Rieussec £265.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2005 Chateau Rieussec £320.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2004 Chateau Rieussec £260.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2003 Chateau Rieussec £300.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2002 Chateau Rieussec £285.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2001 Chateau Rieussec £820.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 2000 Chateau Rieussec £360.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 1999 Chateau Rieussec £240.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 1998 Chateau Rieussec £350.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 1997 Chateau Rieussec £305.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 1996 Chateau Rieussec £280.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 1995 Chateau Rieussec £636.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 1990 Chateau Rieussec £420.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 1989 Chateau Rieussec £550.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 1986 Chateau Rieussec £880.00 12x75cl
Rieussec 1982 Chateau Rieussec £720.00 12x75cl

Highest rated vintages for Chateau Rieussec

99

A monumental effort, the 2001 Rieussec boasts a light to medium gold color in addition to a fabulous perfume of honeysuckle, smoky oak, caramelized tropical fruits, creme brulee, and Grand Marnier. The wine is massive and full-bodied yet neither over the top nor heavy because of good acidity. With intense botrytis as well as a 70-75-second finish, this amazing Sauternes will be its apogee between 2010-2035.

Robert Parker Jr
Wine Advocate #153
97

The team at Chateau Rieussec have conjured a stellar wine in 2009. There is a little reduction at first that fortunately blows away, revealing thickly layered scents of honey, Danish pastry and quince that appear to gain vigor with every passing sip. The palate is stunning: very viscous in the mouth with tangy grapefruit, honey and white peach. It is still primal, but the acidity is perfectly judged and there is a life-affirming sense of precision and tension towards the finish. Exceptional. Drink now-2045.

Robert Parker Jr
eRobertParker.com #205
96

No tasting note given.

Robert Parker Jr
Wine Advocate #176
93

Tasted single blind against its peers. The Chateau Rieussec 2008 should become an excellent Sauternes for the vintage. It has a floral bouquet with peach, tinned apricot and a touch of marmalade, all with fine delineation, and touches of lemon curd developing with aeration. The palate is mellifluous on the entry, with great depth and a luscious, vanillary note with hints of orange peel, marmalade and quince towards the long finish. Excellent. Tasted January 2012.

Robert Parker Jr
Wine Advocate #199
93

Tasted single blind against its peers. The Rieussec 2007 has a subtle nose of dried honey, pear, a touch of quince and crushed stone on the nose, the oak better integrated than last year. The palate is well-balanced with stem ginger and honeycomb on the entry. It is linear compared to its peers, there is no flourish on the finish as yet, but it has fine definition and hints of tangy marmalade and lemongrass that should become more accentuated with time. Tasted January 2011.

Robert Parker Jr
Wine Advocate #199
93

Tasted single blind against its peers. The Rieussec 2007 has a subtle nose of dried honey, pear, a touch of quince and crushed stone on the nose, the oak better integrated than last year. The palate is well-balanced with stem ginger and honeycomb on the entry. It is linear compared to its peers, there is no flourish on the finish as yet, but it has fine definition and hints of tangy marmalade and lemongrass that should become more accentuated with time. Tasted January 2011.

Robert Parker Jr
Wine Advocate #199
(91-94)

(No tasting note given)

Robert Parker Jr
Wine Advocate #128
91-93

The 2011 Rieussec has a lifted, at the moment quite oaky, bouquet with scents of honey, almond and pineapple. Hopefully it will develop more definition by the time of bottling. The palate is medium-bodied with tropical fruit and mandarin on the entry and a satisfying viscous core of honeyed fruit. It seems a little disjointed towards the finish, although I am sure it will become more cohesive by the time of bottling. For me, it just seems a little predictable. Drink 2015-2028+.

Robert Parker Jr
Wine Advocate #200
92

After a period of prolonged disjointedness, this wine has pulled itself together. The color is deep straw, and the wine displays an intense perfume of creme brulee custard, baked apple pie, and sweet, ripe pineapples and pears. Full-bodied, rich, alcoholic, and fat, with low acidity and considerable sweetness, this is a luxuriously rich, unctuously-textured, heavyweight Sauternes that should become more civilized with age. Anticipated maturity: 2000-2025. Last tasted 11/97

Robert Parker Jr
Bordeaux Book, 3rd Edition
91

This wine contains an extremely high percentage of Semillon (usually about 90%), which was to its benefit in 1997. The wine is light medium gold-colored, with a blockbuster nose of Grand Marnier liqueur intertwined with flower blossoms, smoky new oak, and coconut. Well-integrated wood has resulted in a seamless, full-bodied, unctuously-textured wine with considerable sweetness. This is a stunningly proportioned, beautifully pure wine. Anticipated maturity: 2002-2025. (No tasting note was provided in Issue 128. We have instead included the text of the tasting note from Issue 122)

Robert Parker Jr
Wine Advocate #128