The mythic Chateau Rieussec has been owned by the elite house of Lafite Rothschild since 1984 and Les Carmes de Rieussec is the second wine of the Chateau, named after the Carmelite monks in Langon who owned the Rieussec estate in the 18th century. Considered one of the greatest of Bordeaux wines, Rieussec’s vineyards border those of the legendary Chateau Yquem. Les Carmes is made to the the same exacting standards as the ‘grand vin’ and in 2010 is a classic Sauternes blend of 92% Semillon, 5% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Muscadelle. This golden wine offers intense, fresh aromatics of candied fruits, honey and spice. Orange marmalade. Juicy and rich in the mouth, the mid-palate shows hints of acidity, with a clean finish. This wonderful wine would match any dessert but also pairs with foie gras and is the perfect foil to the stilton or other blue cheese.
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More InformationAlthough one of our firm favourites, sweet white Bordeaux wines– often called Sauternes – are under-appreciated when compared to their red sisters. We think this partly reflects the feeling that one could never drink a ‘whole bottle’, even when dining en famille. Hard to believe though that one would think that a single glass of some of these sensational wines could ever be enough on its own!
It’s a shame: making sweet white Bordeaux is a real labour of love for the viticulteurs – even the greatest, Chateau d’Yquem, with its legendary ageing potential, is said to struggle to make ends meet financially. The reason is the need for the grapes to endure noble rot, a fungus that concentrates the grapes. Noble rot can too often just become rot, undermining the crop. It also means that the harvest must be intensive – often by hand and the grape selection extremely rigorous. As an example, 2012, in particular, was a very tricky year for the Sauternes stickies and other producers weren’t exactly helped by Yquem’s decision not to make a 2012 vintage, underlining that year’s poor conditions.
We love it though: we think a good Sauternes can work as well as an aperitif as a pudding wine, though we recognize that this may not be to everyone’s taste (we say: give it a go). The partnership between foie gras and Sauternes is well known (but we actually think a Gewurztraminer, like our Hugel, can work better sometimes). However, we think nothing matches the nobility of a Tour Blanche or a Rieussec at the end of a meal. Try it as an alternative to the pudding itself!
We have managed to obtain some small parcels of fantastic Sauternes from great vintages. The greatest recent vintage for Sauternes was 2001, which some have heralded as the greatest vintage ever, closely followed by the 1997. We have managed to obtain some half bottles of Rieussec 2001 (Parker: 99/100, remember that Rieussec comes from the same stable as Lafite) and Suduiraut 1997 – perhaps customers will feel less compunction opening and enjoying a smaller format! But our Sauternes selection now has many of the great names in sweet wine Bordeaux to try in addition to those two: Climens, Tour Blanche, Guiraud, Fargues and Chateau d’Arche.