Chateau Rieussec Sauternes Bordeaux Wine, Complete Guide

Chateau Rieussec Sauternes Chateau Rieussec Sauternes Bordeaux Wine, Complete Guide

Learn everything about Chateau Rieussec Sauternes, Premiers Crus with wine tasting notes and wine with food pairing tips. Learn all the best vintages, a history of the property, information on the vineyards and winemaking. 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 Frere 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 had 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.

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Chateau Rieussec Vineyards, Terroir, Grapes, Winemaking

The large, Chateau Rieussec vineyard covers 92 hectares and is planted to 90% Semillon 7% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Muscadelle. The vineyard 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 elevations higher than that. The vineyard of Chateau Rieussec On average, the vines are 25 years of age. The vineyard is planted to a vine density of 7,500 vines per hectare.

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 dYquem 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.

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: 2018, 2017, 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.

Starting with the 1997 vintage, the entire vinification process is conducted in French oak barrels. 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 barrels for 30 months.

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.

Style and Character of Chateau Rieussec

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.

When to Drink Chateau Rieussec, Anticipated Maturity, Decanting Time

Chateau Rieussec can be enjoyed on the young side with no decanting. In fact, it is delicious and quite a treat young, even on release! However, like all great wines, Chateau Rieussec is much better with age, and does not reach full maturity until it’s between 15-35 years of age, or in some years, perhaps even longer in the best vintages! That is when the magic happens!

But that is unrealistic for 99% of the world’s wine drinkers. So, enjoy it at any special occasion that calls for it.

Of course the wine is sweet, but there is so much, incredible, racy acidity, the wine always feels fresh, and never cloying, which makes it quite fun to enjoy young. With Chateau Rieussec and frankly, all Sauternes, temperature is more important than decanting.

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 Rieussec 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.

Château Rieussec Wine Tasting Notes

19 Vintages 141,322 Views Sort by Vintage-Rating

2018Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)92

Pineapples, vanilla, honeysuckle and apricots fill the nose. The wine is sweet, almost unctuous, with an orange and sugary tropical laced finish. The wine was made from blending 58% Semillon and 42% Sauvignon Blanc.

2,213 Views   Tasted
2017Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)96

Roasted nuts, pineapples, vanilla custard and apricots come on strong. The wine is perfectly balanced between sweetness and racy acidity, with a melange of over-ripe, spicy, sweet, tropical fruit and honey. The wine was made from blending 54% Semillon and 46% Sauvignon Blanc.

3,710 Views   Tasted
2013Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)95

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

7,367 Views   Tasted
2011Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)94

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.

4,117 Views   Tasted
2010Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)93

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.

4,907 Views   Tasted
2009Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)96

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.

7,142 Views   Tasted
2007Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)93

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.

5,914 Views   Tasted
2006Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)92

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.

3,774 Views   Tasted
2005Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)94

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.

6,930 Views   Tasted
2003Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)94

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.

8,571 Views   Tasted

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.

10,515 Views   Tasted 94
2001Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)97

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.

6,927 Views   Tasted

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.

12,396 Views   Tasted 97

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

7,062 Views   Tasted 97
1997Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)91

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.

3,224 Views   Tasted
1990Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)93

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.

4,116 Views   Tasted
1989Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)93

Tropical and orange fruits combine to produce a complex, fresh, honeyed wine with more than enough creme de caramel, custard, apricot tart, vanilla bean and butterscotch to please any sweet wine lover. The wine is concentrated, lusciously textured and ready for its prime time drinking window.

3,445 Views   Tasted
1988Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)92

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.

4,422 Views   Tasted
1983Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)90

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.

4,163 Views   Tasted

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.

4,007 Views   Tasted 91

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.

5,258 Views   Tasted 91
1978Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)80

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.

4,170 Views   Tasted
1976Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)90

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.

3,145 Views   Tasted

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.

3,542 Views   Tasted 87

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

2,901 Views   Tasted 93

Deep orange, honey colored hue. Oranges, apricots, burnt sugar were easy to find in the nose. Very sweet with good depth, balance and length

2,515 Views   Tasted 93

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!

2,162 Views   Tasted 93
1964Château Rieussec  (Sauternes)85

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.

2,707 Views   Tasted