Everything about Chateau Rieussec Sauternes, Premiers Crus, Bordeaux wine producer profile, with wine tasting notes, wine ratings, wine and food pairing tips, best vintages, a history of the property, information on wine making and terroir, along with wine tasting reviews. If you want to read about other important, Bordeaux Chateaux: Links to all Bordeaux Wine Producer Profiles
Chateau Rieussec History, Overview
Chateau Rieussec got its start when it was founded by an order of Carmelite monks. Like many Bordeaux wine properties, the estate was confiscated during the French Revolution. This led to an auction around 1790 when it was sold to the Marheilhac family. At the time, they owned Chateau La Louviere, located in Pessac Leognan. Interestingly. Chateau La Louviere was also confiscated during the French Revolution from an order of Monks.
Following the 1855 Classification, Rieussec passed through numerous owners including the Gasqueton family. The Gasqueton family also owned Chateau Calon Segur in St. Estephe. This was followed by numerous changes in ownership until it was purchased by Alain Vuillier.
In 1984, Alain Vuillier was running out of money and he sold Chateau Rieussec to the owners of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Domaines Barons de Rothschild. They bought the property in a partnership with Albert Frere. Albert Fere was quite familiar with Bordeaux as he already owned a portion of Chateau Cheval Blanc in St. Emilion. The following year, in 1985, Charles Chevallier was placed in charge of managing Chateau Rieussec. Aside from a modernization of the estate since Lafite Rothschild took over, the estate has almost doubled in size. At the time of the purchase, at most, 40 hectares were under vine.
30 years later, Rieussec has almost 90 hectares under vine. However, everything did not go as planned for the new owners. When Lafite Rothschild became the world’s most collectible brand, due to the excessive buying in the Asian markets, Domaines Barons de Rothschild began selling their wines as a bundle, meaning, the Negociants were forced to buy Rieussec, Duhart Milon and Carraudes to be able to buy Lafite Rothschild. That practice devalued the wine of Rieussec as Negociants began to balk at the bundling practice. Eventually that marketing plan was discontinued with the 2013 campaign.
The Sauternes vineyard of Chateau Rieussec is one of the largest in the Sauternes appellation. The property has great terroir. It sits next to Chateau d’Yquem on the east and Chateau de Fargues is also their neighbor. The vineyards of Rieussec extend all the way to the borders of both Fargues and Sauternes, giving them vines in both communes. Perhaps it is that they have a more complex terroir, as they are located in 2 communes, that gives the wine the extra level of depth and concentration.
The vineyard covers 92 hectares and has a terroir of gravel, sand, clay and limestone soil. The slopes place Rieussec at one of the highest elevation in the appellation, reaching 78 meters at its peak. Only Chateau d’Yquem has more elevations. The vineyard of Chateau Rieussec is planted to 90% Semillon 7% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Muscadelle. On average, the vines are 25 years of age. The vineyard is planted to a vine density of 7,500 vines per hectare.
Like all the top Bordeaux wine producers in Sauternes, the harvests are done in passes. This length of the harvest and amount of passes is determined by the ripeness of the fruit and more importantly, the level of botrytis found on the grapes. The harvest could last for as long as 6 to 8 weeks. In extremely difficult vintages, Rieussec did not produce any wine, declassifying their entire crop. So far, this has happened 3 times, 1977, 1993 and in 2012.
The best vintages of Chateau Rieussec are: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2005, 2003, 2001, 1997, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1986, 1983, 1976 and 1975. Well stored older vintages could also be quite good.
To produce the wine of Chateau Rieussec, sorting takes place in the vineyard during the harvest, not at the winery. Vinification takes place in a combination of new, French oak barrels and used barrels. Prior to 1996, the wine was vinified partially in tank, but that is no longer the case. The used barrels come from Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The wine of Chateau Rieussec is aged in an average of 50% new, French oak barrels for 18 to 24 months, depending on the character of the vintage.
Chateau Rieussec has clearly benefited from being owned by the Rothschild’s. Numerous technical improvements in the vineyards and the winemaking facilities has helped vastly improve the wines of Chateau Rieussec. The wines are vinified in small lots which allows for vinification on a level that is even more precise than a parcel by parcel basis. The wines are aged in 50% new, French oak for 30 months.
Serving Chateau Rieussec with Wine and Food Pairings
Chateau Rieussec is best served at 14 degrees Celsius, 57 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. The wine will naturally warm in the glass, while it develops more aromatic complexities and fleshes out. Chateau Rayne Vigneau can be served with seafood dishes, especially shellfish, lobster, crab and oysters on the half shell. Foie gras is a perfect pairing with its natural sweet, salty and savory characteristics. Chateau Rieussec can also be paired with roasted chicken, veal and pork dishes that are either spicy, or prepared with a touch of sweetness. Spicy Asian cuisine, raw fish, like sushi or sashimi, and cheese, both hard and soft also make great pairings with Chateau Rieussec.
Chateau Rieussec also produces a dry white name, marketed under the name, R de Rieussec, the wine is usually produced from a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon. There is a second wine, which is available under three names, Carmes de Rieussec, de Cosse and Clos Labere. Carmes de Rieussec takes its name from the founder of the estate, the Carmelite Monks. The annual production of Rieussec is close to 5,000 cases of Sauternes per year.
Rieussec is close to the top of the Sauternes pyramid. With concentration of flavors, thick textures, sensations of honey drenched pineapple, orange, apricot, mango and nectarines with vanilla and caramel notes are easy to find. This is a stunning wine that can age for decades. One thing consumers should be aware of when it comes to aging Chateau Rieussec, the wine usually develops a darker color than other Sauternes. With 20-30 years, the wine can appear to look more like amber or copper in color. This is normal for Rieussec.
Château Rieussec Wine Tasting Notes
16 Vintages 113123 Views Sort Vintage Rating
2013 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
Filled with nutty and fruity notes of orange, pineapple, honey, and citrus, this rich, dense wine is lively and long with the right balance of freshness, sugar and acidity. 94-96 Pts
Apr 22, 2014points - Tasted 5333 Views
2011 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
Fat, powerful, intense and concentrated with sweet, lush, honey coated tropical fruits, apricot and peach, complicated by vanilla and spice notes is primary, yet already delicious. Give it time to develop and evolve and this should be even better.
Jul 6, 2015points - Tasted 3663 Views
2010 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
Sweet apricots, peach, orange and pineapple with honey, freshness and a generous finish are on full display with this wine. It lacks the depth found in the best vintages however. Drink this young if you like your Sauternes on the primary side. Age it for a decade or two, if you want more caramel and crème brulee sensations.
Oct 10, 2013points - Tasted 4341 Views
2009 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
Thick layers of ripe, over ripe and extremely ripe tropical fruit, peach and apricot drenched in honey, nuts and vanilla custard with the right, refreshing zip to keep it lively and fresh. Of course this is very young, but it[s so tasty, it's hard not to pop a cork on this now. I imagine it's going to get better and my score will look chintzy in the years to come.
Aug 8, 2013points - Tasted 6521 Views
2007 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
Big, bold, rich, thick, concentrated and filled with honey drenched, tropical fruit, citrus rind, apricot, orange blossom and vanilla, the wine is still primary and wants more time. If you cannot keep your hands off it, enjoy it for its fresh fruit, honey, spice, creme brulee and nutty personality. At maturity, I imagine it'll deserve another point or two.
Sep 23, 2012points - Tasted 5510 Views
2006 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
Fresh, spicy and floral, the wine is on the orange, tangerine and apricot side of the style range, instead of tropical fruits. There is ample honey and acidity, but the wine lacks the richness, fat and depth found in the best vintages here.
Jul 5, 2017points - Tasted 782 Views
2005 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
Vanilla bean, honey coated tropical fruit, apricot and macadamia nut aromas move you into a lush, fat, sweet, dense wine with lots of sweetness, yet enough, much needed freshening acidity. Still young as expected, it's a lot of fun tasting these wines in their youth.
Aug 20, 2013points - Tasted 6211 Views
2003 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
Thick, rich, intense and packed with layers of perfectly, ripe tropical fruit slathered in honey, vanilla and nuts, this is a beautiful, sweet Bordeaux that offers a lot of pleasure today, and in the future.
Dec 3, 2012points - Tasted 7830 Views
Thick, rich, intense and filled with sweet, tropical fruit, spice, vanilla, orange blossoms and buckets of honey. The wine feels a bit heavy in the mouth. Very sweet. I wish it had a bit more acidity to give it life. Still young, the jury will continue to deliberate. Give it another 5 years and see how it develops.
Jan 6, 2012points - Tasted 9892 Views
2001 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
Fat, rich, sweet, dense and packed with ripe and overripe apricots, pineapple, vanilla and candied orange, all slathered in honey, vanilla and spice. Quite primary and sweet at the moment, the acidity seemed to hold back, while the sugars were in the forefront. I'd wait another 5 or more years to pop a bottle.
Jan 1, 2017points - Tasted 5308 Views
Clearly, this is a rock star in the making! Fresh, ripe, honeyed pineapple, orange, nectarine, toasted nuts, vanilla and coconut aromatics are a treat to swirl and sniff. Full bodied, concentrated and packed with deep, perfectly ripe fruit, this attention grabbing Sauternes is worth having in the cellar.
Aug 6, 2010points - Tasted 11086 Views
The wine sports a deep orange hue. This is so concentrated it seems like liquefied, honey-drenched fruit, but there’s enough acidity to keep it fresh and lively
Feb 5, 2007points - Tasted 5739 Views
1997 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
This is surprisingly light for such a successful vintage in Sauternes. Perhaps that is due in part to the higher than usual percentage of Semillon in the blend. On the palate the wine displays honeysuckle, orange, citrus, vanilla and honey scents. Medium bodied, fresh and open for business, this is a nice sweet, white Bordeaux wine that lacks the same depth found in the top vintages of Rieussec.
Nov 18, 2013points - Tasted 2891 Views
1990 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
I'm never sure I'm spelling this Chateau correctly. Orange, copper tinted in color shows off a beautiful, orange marmalade, honey, nectarine and orangesicle nose. Rich, fat and sweet. The wine easily flows across your palate with honey drenched pineapple, peach, nectarine and apricot.
Feb 11, 2009points - Tasted 3796 Views
1988 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
With the typical copper, orange hue that comes with the patina of age to Rieussec, the wine offers caramel, pineapple, peach, candied apple, apricot and orange rind topped with honey. This is close to fully mature. There is no reasons to hold this wine for much longer. Pop it and enjoy.
May 9, 2012points - Tasted 4060 Views
1983 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
Deep in color, with an orange, copper, caramel color, the nose caught you with its orange marmalade, apricot, pine, flower. honey and caramel aromas. Fully mature, if not slightly past that point, the sweetness is starting to fade and the secondary orange, creme brulee and butterscotch notes are becoming more apparent.
Dec 15, 2015points - Tasted 3614 Views
With more attention focused on burnt caramel, petrol and creme brulee than fresh honeyed fruits, this is on the slow, downward side of life. Still a treat, with its honeyed orange marmalade and tropical fruit finish, this is not a wine I'm going to continue to hold.
May 11, 2013points - Tasted 3650 Views
Filled with caramel, crème brulee, tropical fruit, spice, apricot and honey, this Sauternes is fully mature and could be starting to fade. I’d opt for drinking this sooner than later.
May 9, 2012points - Tasted 4884 Views
1978 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
With more than enough acid to make Timothy Leary happy, the fruit is really fading. If you have bottle, pop it as it's definitely in a state of declining.
Oct 22, 2015points - Tasted 2672 Views
1976 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
Orange and copper in color, this fully mature Sauternes offers complex aromas of honey, nuts, nectarines, crème brulee, caramel and orange rind. The fruit is gently fading while more brunt aromas are appearing. Even though this was the best showing of this wine in a few years, there is no reason to cellar it any longer. Drink up.
Jul 31, 2011points - Tasted 2952 Views
Showing burnt orange and copper colors. This bottle seemed dull, tired and lacking in sweetness compared to other examples I've tasted over the past few years. The wine is dropping its fruit. Drink up.
Jul 1, 2008points - Tasted 3350 Views
This fully mature, cooper hued Sauternes is a showcase for sweet, ripe, tropical fruit soaked in honey with layers of caramel dripping from the sides. This is not a dessert wine, it's a dessert
Feb 10, 2006points - Tasted 2624 Views
Deep orange, honey colored hue. Oranges, apricots, burnt sugar were easy to find in the nose. Very sweet with good depth, balance and length
Feb 9, 2005points - Tasted 2321 Views
The wine was the color of molasses with a texture almost as thick. It’s luscious style offered aromas of peaches, apricots, vanilla and coffee. The palate consisted of burnt orange, vanilla ice cream, chocolate and caramel dipped in honey. This was just as good on day two! This is not a dessert wine, it is dessert!
Aug 17, 2003points - Tasted 1890 Views
1964 Château Rieussec ( Sauternes)
This is the first Sauternes I've ever tasted from this vintage. This was tasted from a perfectly stored magnum, which definitely added to the quality. Better on the nose than the palate with its light, tropical, apricot and tinge of honey in the nose. Medium bodied, without a lot of sweetness, this needs to be consumed sooner than later, if you are lucky enough to have a bottle.
Jul 11, 2013points - Tasted 2203 Views