The Rieussec estate was owned by the Carmelites in the 18th century. During the revolution, the estate was publicly sold as an object of national heritage. Since then, the estate has had several owners. In 1984, it was taken over by the famous family of Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite. At the time of acquisition, the estate consisted of 110 hectares, of which 68 hectares were planted with vines.
As 1er Cru Classé in Sauternes, Château Rieussec is part of the famous Bordeaux classification of 1855.
After the Rothschild family took over Rieussec, many things have changed, all to improve the quality of the wine. For example, a new cellar was built to extend the maturation period. The numbers of Grand Vins also went down, this was the result of a strict selection. Sometimes, the selection is so strict that no Grand Vin is produced at all, this happened for example in 1977 and 2012.
Rieussec now belongs to one of the largest estates in Sauternes and Barsac. The vineyard area has grown to 93 hectares. The vineyards are spread out until the border of Fargues and Sauternes. Sémillon takes up 90% of the total plantings, followed by Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. These are the only grape varieties for Sauternes wines.
For Sauternes production, Botrytis cinerea (noble rot) is desirable, but not every grape develops as quickly as others. For that reason, the harvest period usually lasts 6 to 8 weeks. The yield per vine is so low, that it produces an average of just one single glass.
The fermentation of the grapes takes place in wooden barrels. Each plot is fermented separately, so that it can be judged properly whether it could be used for the Grand Vin or not. After fermentation, the wines are aged, again in wooden barrels, for a period of 16 to 26 months. The Premier Grand Cru is sold under the name Château Rieussec. The second Sauternes is marketed under the name Carmes de Rieussec. In addition, the winery also produces a small edition of dry white wine, this is the 'R' cuvée.
The most notable vintages from the past thirty years are 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005. In 2001 and 2004 the winery was awarded the Wine of the Year title by Wine Spectator magazine.Read more