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Sauternes #1: Chateau Rieussec 2001

I enjoy buying Sauternes; after all, you get such good value for money. And I enjoy drinking Sauternes too; show me a sensible person who doesn’t. I appear to have something of an imbalance between these two worthwhile activities though, and as a consequence I have several bins full of Sauternes, many from the 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2003 vintages. Whereas there’s no need to drink up individual bottles at these sorts of ages, when you have cases or half-cases of each then there comes a time when you really have to start tucking in.

So, here’s my solution – more Sauternes on the Winedr blog. I don’t think I will manage a Sauternes every week; the spirit and palate are willing, it’s simply the lack of time (and hepatocyte attrition) that will hold be back. But I will see if I can keep it up. Maybe once I’ve worked my way through Sauternes, I will do the same with a Loire appellation. Quarts de Chaume, perhaps?

Château Rieussec 2001

On we go, with this week’s wine. We start with a bit of a bang; a stunning wine, from Château Rieussec, from a great vintage.

Château Rieussec (Sauternes) 2001: I have enjoyed many examples of Sauternes from this vintage, but here in Rieussec we have something very special. The colour is rich and golden, but then that is not particularly unusual for the vintage in question. It is on the nose that the wine begins to stand apart from its peers, with a hugely convincing display of botrytis, counterbalanced by fresh aromas of bright fruit. Representing the former there are notes of honey, fragrant and scented with thyme, along with vanilla, coconut and a little twist of caramel. The fruit, meanwhile, comes in the form of orange and apricots, bright and defined, altough clearly also suggesting botrytis. The palate does not disappoint after this strong start, showing all the convincing richness of slippery, botrytis-coated fruit, along with some tangy, grippy orange character. What impresses most is the very complete, harmonious picture it presents, despite the remarkable substance and concentrated flavour it carries. A superb wine. 19/20 (January 2013)

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