This year's Decanter World Wine Awards Regional Trophy for Sweet Bordeaux over £15 went to Château de Rayne Vigneau, Sauternes 2011 (13.5%)

Tasted against:

  • No other Golds in this category


Bordeaux watchers have followed Rayne Vigneau’s return to form with anticipation for some time now. One of the oldest properties in Sauternes (Gabriel Vigneau gets a mention in local records in 1635) and responsible for great wines in vintages such as 1959, it underwent a period of neglect in the 1970s. But its location could hardly be more conducive to making fine sweet wines, being a direct neighbour of Chateau d’Yquem, directly above the Ciron river. The vineyard is a single 84-hectare bank, which rises from 25m to 73m in altitude, on a variety of gravelly soils which include semi-precious stones.

Investment in the 1980s boosted quality, but it was the purchase in 2004 by banking giant Crédit Agricole that steered it back towards ‘top-tier’ status. Technical manager Anne Le Naour, who is responsible for seven properties owned by the group, has been key to this transformation. Having trained widely throughout France, Le Naour experienced her ‘Sauternes epiphany’ after enjoying a glass of Yquem 1975 while working in Australia’s Yarra Valley.

The average vine age at Rayne Vigneau is 31 years, with fruit gathered by a team of 40 to 100 pickers who make up to six trips through the vineyard. This Trophywinner (90% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon) matured for 18 months in 40% new oak.

Written by Decanter