The 2016 Carmes de Rieussec is a blend of 57% Semillon and 43% Sauvignon Blanc. It has an attractive bouquet with simple honey and yellow flower aromas tinged with vanilla pod. The palate is simple and quite linear, maybe missing some botrytis and viscosity towards the finish. Not bad, but I have encountered better Carmes de Rieussec in the past and the 2015 is much better.
Rieussec's 90 hectares of vineyard occupy one of the highest points in the Sauternes after those of neighbouring Yquem. Unusually the vineyard is one unit, and not made up of several parcels like most Bordeaux properties.The good work started by Albert Vuillier (more oak, and increased passes picking more developed grapes) in the 1970's has been continued by the current owners - Domaines Baron de Rothschild (of Lafite) - who rebuilt the chai in 1989. Vines are on average 25 years old, with Plantings predominantly Semillon (92%) with a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc (5%) and Muscadelle (3%). If the year is judged too poor as in 1993, the grand vin is not made at all. Bottlings under the name Clos Labère are also produced. The deeply coloured wine has a rich, honeyed style, which exhibits great precision and tremendous persistance.
It is not an exaggeration to say that these are the greatest sweet wines in the world. They are the result of a serendipitous marriage of grape variety, location, annual weather conditions and human care and determination. The vineyards are located on the banks of the cool spring-fed Ciron river which, in autumn, flows into the warmer tidal Garonne and creates rolling evening mists which clothe the vines until the afternoon sun burns them off the following day. This cycle creates perfect conditions for the development of botrytis cinerea or noble rot, and the resulting grape juice is a super concentrated sweet, ambrosial nectar which makes the most heavenly and complex wines with extraordinary ability to age. In 1855 the wines were classified into first and second growths, with Ch d'Yquem rightly receivingits own super status of premier grand cru. Other stunning wines include Chx Sudiraut, Rieussec, Coutet and Climens. While seductively fragrant and sweet when young, if you can bear to wait, you will be amply rewarded with lusciously rich, exotically complex wine.