1998 Carmes de Rieussec, Sauternes, Bordeaux

1998 Carmes de Rieussec, Sauternes, Bordeaux

Product: 19988035079
Prices start from £19.95 per half bottle (37.5cl). Buying options
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1998 Carmes de Rieussec, Sauternes, Bordeaux

Description

Mature Sauternes, in fact all Sauternes, is surely one of the wine world’s best kept, and most affordable secrets. Relative to the time, money and energy devoted to making this amazing liquid, the prices charged for it are almost embarrassingly little. 1998 was not an especially memorable vintage in Sauternes. While the fruit was fully ripe, the harvest came in under rather wet conditions, diluting some of the alcohol and sugar. In such circumstances, the best Chateaux, such as Rieussec tend to put more of the ‘Grand Vin’, into the second wine, in this case Carmes de Rieussec. Made to the same exacting standards as the Grand Vin, Carmes is generally a lighter, fresher style of Sauternes, which matures a little earlier than it’s big cousin.

A wonderfully bright golden colour, and, on first inspection, an intriguing nose. Gone are any youthful ideas of citrus zest or orange blossom, and in their place an intense lanolin, and beeswax layer shrouds the nose - this is complex and absorbing stuff. The palate manages that fabulous marriage of sweetness and acidity. It is both unctuous and refreshing at the same time. Dark, honeyed richness and burnt Saville oranges linger long on the finish. I drank this with both a cherry tart and, the following day, some Roquefort that I’d been trying to save. The Carmes was as delicious as you would hope with the former, but it was even better with the latter – its sweetness pairing perfectly with the saline tang of the blue cheese. This is an absolute steal.
Philip Moulin, Fine Wine Quality & Authentication Manager
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About this WINE

Chateau Rieussec

Chateau Rieussec

Château Rieussec is one of the richest and most exotic of all Sauternes, producing particularly good wines in the late 1980s and the mid 1990s. Rieussec has been owned by Domaines Barons de Rothschild since 1985 and is located at one of the highest points of Sauternes in the village of Fargues where its vineyards border those of Château d`Yquem.

Rieussec's 75 hectares of vineyards are planted with 89% Sémillon, 8% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Muscadelle. Yields are low and the grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks and oak casks before being matured in oak barriques (70% new) for 18-24 months.

Rieussec produces a classic full-bodied Sauternes that is deep golden-yellow in colour and packed with lusciously sweet, honeyed fruits. Classsfied as a 1er Cru Classé, its best vintages rival those from d`Yquem.

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Sauternes

Sauternes

Sauternes is where arguably the world's finest sweet white wines are produced. The Sauternes appellation actually consists of five communes: Barsac, Preignac, Bommes, Fargues and Sauternes itself. Barsac is also an appellation in its own right.

Sauternes literally has an atmosphere different from any of the other major communes. At the southern tip of the Graves,close to the Garonne, not only is the land hillier and decidedly more bucolic but it also enjoys a specific mesoclimate of evening autumn mists which linger until well into the following day, unless burnt off by warm sunshine.

The mists are caused by the cool, spring-fed waters of the Ciron River meeting the warmer tidal Garonne, and the result is an ideal environment for the growth of the mould botrytis cinerea. When its arrival is felicitous, it feeds on the water in the ripe grapes, dehydrating them and leaving sweet, shriveled fruit.

Other regions in Bordeaux (ie Cadillac, Loupiac) produce wines in a similar style from the same method, but none achieve the profundity and complexity of Sauternes.

Recommended Châteaux : Ch. D'Yquem, Ch. Climens (Barsac), Ch. Suduiraut, Ch. Rieussec,  Sigalas- Rabaud, Ch. Coutet (Barsac), Ch. de Fargues, Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Ch. Doisy-Védrines (Barsac), Chateau Partarrieu, La Tour Blanche

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Sauv.Blanc & Sémillon

Sauv.Blanc & Sémillon

The blend used for White Graves and Sauternes and rarely encountered outside France. In the great dry whites of Graves, Sauvignon Blanc tends to predominate in the blend, although properties such as Smith Haut Lafite use 100% Sauvignon Blanc while others such as Laville Haut Brion have as much as 60% Sémillon in their final blends. Sauvignon Blanc wines can lose their freshness and fruit after a couple of years in bottle - if blended with Sémillon, then the latter bolsters the wine when the initial fruit from the Sauvignon fades. Ultimately Sauvignon Blanc gives the wine its aroma and raciness while Sémillon gives it backbone and longevity.

In Sauternes, Sémillon is dominant, with Sauvignon Blanc playing a supporting role - it is generally harvested about 10 days before Sémillon and the botrytis concentrates its sweetness and dampens Sauvignon Blanc`s naturally pungent aroma. It contributes acidity, zip and freshness to Sauternes and is an important component of the blend.

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