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Château Rieussec breaks with Sauternes Grand Cru conventions

By Vitisphere November 12, 2021
Château Rieussec breaks with Sauternes Grand Cru conventions
Available only in 75 cl formats, the bottle will now provide the inspiration for other Rieussec wines, namely the second label and the dry white wine, R de Rieussec. - crédit photo : DR

othing looks more like a bottle of Sauternes than another bottle of Sauternes – a transparent Bordeaux-shaped bottle, golden label with a crown etc. But the 2019 vintage of Château Rieussec (Domaines Barons de Rothschild, Lafite) moves away from this rather old-hat tradition – although the crown is kept, it is displayed on a silkscreen label on a bottle that is broader and shorter and has a hallmark second cork, lending the packaging a ‘cup-and-ball’ feel. “The wine inside hasn’t changed. There is still a conventional cork to store our first wine for 50 to 100 years, but we are adding a second cork to allow consumers to easily re-cork an opened bottle after a meal and serve another glass for the aperitif”, explains Jean de Roquefeuil, director of the 85-hectare Château Rieussec which has just started switching to organic.

There was a need for renewal”, claims de Roquefeuil, who admits to being a traditionalist and says he would not have been bold enough to push the boundaries so far: “We gave carte blanche to the Swiss agency Big Game to get an outside view”. The aim is to reposition Sauternes and make it less of a pudding and foie gras wine for Christmas and the New Year, and more of an aperitif and food-friendly wine. The bottle format, which is more akin to a bottle of port, brings Sauternes into a more relaxed and modern world. With a retail price tag of over €100 a bottle, as compared with €50 to €70 in recent times, Château Rieussec is undeniably moving upmarket. “The price of our wines is now on a par with what they cost to produce”, says de Roquefeuil. The new packaging, along with a change in the style of the wine – which is now fresher with less residual sugar – are enabling the Domaines Barons de Rothschild estate to reposition its status.

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