Ch Rieussec 2011 Sauternes

Ch Rieussec 2011 label

You'll never see this wine this cheap again.

Useful halves from HK$224, CA$39.16, 35 Swiss francs, €28.58, £30, SG$66, $49.99, 425 Swedish kronor, 1,170 Taiwan dollars

Bottles from HK$320, $59, £44, €55, 64.60 Swiss francs, SG$127, 2,180 Czech koruna, 695 Danish kroner, 456 Malaysian ringgit, 3,100 Taiwan dollars, 9,203 roubles, AU$168, NZ$179.95, 4,390 Indonesian rupiah, 1,878.26 Brazilian reais, or per case of 12 in bond from €288, £360, $710

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This week the 2019 vintage of Ch Rieussec was released – jazzed up in a brand-new bottle at a brand-new price. Rieussec 2018 was initially priced at around £375 a dozen bottles in bond in the UK. It was regarded as being too expensive and didn’t sell well. Today it has a market price of £330.

This new vintage, 2019, is being released by the team at Lafite at an ambitious £1,020 a dozen – more even that the truly great 2001 vintage, which is currently selling at £900 a dozen. I’m told that the Bordeaux négociants are obediently buying it, knowing that this will enable them to sell shedloads of Lafite and Carruades de Lafite to the Chinese.

So what’s so special about this new vintage? It's not an exceptional vintage for Sauternes but Saskia de Rothschild, well aware that Sauternes is a very difficult sell, has hired whizzo designers to put it in the new bottle pictured below by Cedric Polusset made from recycled materials with a new label and special stopper so people can re-stopper the bottle easily (no halves are available apparently). And the vineyards are now certified organic.

New bottle for Ch Rieussec 2011

But however much you care about sustainability, I would suggest that you would be much better off seeking out a vintage with some age on it that costs a fraction of the price of the 2019. The 2011 would be an ideal choice. As you can see from the prices at the top of this article, the 2011 is a relative snip.

As outlined in my tasting articles this week about right-bank red 2011s and left-bank red 2011s tasted blind, the red wines in this vintage are pretty unexciting, which has earned the vintage a poor reputation. But 2011 was a truly great vintage for the sweet white bordeaux. I urge you to profit from this relatively little-known fact.

I’ll be recommending an array of 2011s tomorrow but Ch Rieussec 2011 is one of the best deals because so many merchants are required to buy Rieussec in order to get their allocations of Lafite and Carruades. This means it’s very widely available, at bargain prices. According to it’s currently on sale not just widely in the UK, US, France and, especially, Hong Kong, but also throughout Europe and Scandinavia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Brazil.

In the recent blind tasting of 2011s, Rieussec was my second favourite after Suduiraut (I preferred it, at this stage anyway, to Yquem, and gave La Tour Blanche the same score). My tasting note:

Smells sweet and nutty. Really interesting with almond notes and the cut and race of molten marzipan. Dry finish. Notes of crème brûlée. 17.5/20 Drink 2020–2042.

I’m delighted to see that so many retailers are offering this wine in half-bottles.

The recently retired technical director at Ch Lafite, Charles Chevalier, always said his real love was Ch Rieussec. He would have made this wine, in a vintage when botrytis was truly abundant. Go on – spoil yourself!

See my tasting article on 2011 sweet white bordeaux tasted blind.