Rieussec is one of the largest classed growths in Sauternes, and one of the finest, undoubtedly benefiting from being part of the wine estate of the Rothschild brand and the family that owns Lafite.
It belonged to an order of Carmelite monks in the 18th century, but was confiscated after the Revolution, and then passed through a string of families until the Rothschilds finally acquired it in 1984. Over the next 15 years there were great renovations in the cellars and winery which saw a marked improvement in quality.
The vineyard is managed by the talented Charles Chevallier, who also manages the Duhart-Milon and Lafite estates. There are 93 hectares of vines, located next to Yquem, and planted on gravel and limestone soils. The harvest lasts for six to eight weeks, allowing several successive pickings to ensure the workers only select grapes with the optimum levels of alcohol and noble rot.
The wine is typically a blend of 90% semillon, 7% sauvignon and 3% muscadelle. The whole crop is barrel fermented in some 45 separate lots using barrels from the Lafite cooperage, before spending a further 16 to 24 months in oak, half of it new. It is always an exotically rich Sauternes, but very complex too, and with no trace of heaviness, and has the potential to age for between four and 30 years.
The estate also has a second wine, Carmes de Rieussec, blended after the rigorous selection which determines the grand vin. The name is a homage to the monks who initially owned the estate.