Sauternes: Château Rieussec tasting - The wines
Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) bought 92 hectare Château Rieussec in 1985. Charles Chevallier was installed as manager and winemaker, a position he held until 1994 when he took over the technical management of all the Rothschild
properties in France (Lafite, Duhart-Milon, Rieussec, l'Evangile).
The soaring reputation of Lafite since 1995 has much to do with the time he spent at Rieussec. A meticulous approach and the practices of selective harvesting and several passages through the vineyard to pick grapes from young and older vines
are now applied at the first growth Pauillac estate.
An impressively rich and opulent wine, Château Rieussec is second only to Yquem in terms of power and concentration. The tasting (11 vintages spanning 40 years) showed that considerable progress has been made since the initial Rothschild years. There's now greater
purity of fruit, more refinement and an astonishing intensity and persistence. Vintages like 2005 and 2001 are amongst the greatest produced at the property.
Charles Chevallier puts this down to several factors. 'We're better organised at the harvest, wait longer, stop and start if necessary, have a greater number of pickers and use cajettes (shallow plastic boxes or trays) to be more selective and protect the fruit.' The wines are also now vinified and aged for 30 months in new oak barrels (up to 80%). James Lawther MW