Château Rieussec 2003
Available at Zachy’s Wine and Liquor
Retail cost: approximately $42 (375 ml)
Some French Wines Can Be Spoiled to Perfection
The most successful French wine regions seem to enjoy one natural advantage after another over lesser regions that have to struggle with each vintage: Sauternes, a subappellation of Bordeaux, for example, where even a natural phenomenon such as the development of rot in the vineyards can and is regularly used to further their reputation for creating complex, world-class wines. While rot is most often a tragic event in the life of grape clusters, if it is the right sort of rot, in this case Botrytis cinerea (a.k.a. noble rot), it is a coup for producers of the exceptional dessert wine known as Sauternes. The particular growing conditions in Sauternes constitute a nearly perfect environment for noble rot to occur on a regular basis. So instead of rot-infected grapes spoiling the wine, they become its chief attribute, as they impart both highly desirable honeyed flavors as well as a characteristic glycerin-driven smoothness to the wines.
Many see Château Rieussec, owned by the Rothschild family of Lafite-Rothschild, as comfortably among the top producers of Sauternes and even a kindred spirit to the legendary Château d’Yquem in style (their vineyards border one another). Both houses produce a consistently full-bodied yet classic style of Sauternes.
The 2003 Rieussec is a deep butterscotch color with gorgeous peach, honeysuckle and slightly caramel flavors. Although quite sweet even by dessert wine standards, it has the necessary acidity to complement the natural sweetness. Predominately made from sémillon, with sauvignon blanc and muscadelle composing about 10 to 15 percent of the blend, Sauternes is a classic match with Roquefort, foie gras and chocolate. French wine lovers beware: the consumption of good Sauternes with any of the above will spoil you to perfection!
Editor’s note: Food and wine lovers heading to Paris might want to try one of the Girls’ Guide’s favorite cooking classes.