If you find yourself at a royal reception or being hosted for dinner by an important dignitary sometime soon, chances are you will receive a glass of honeyed, unctuous Sauternes wine with your dessert. The home of the world's most prized and celebrated sweet wines, Sauternes and Barsac are two neighbouring village appellations located 65 kilometres south of the city of Bordeaux. To make these fickle and expensive wines healthy grapes are left on the vines until they have been infected with Botrytis cinerea, a fungus which dries the grapes and naturally develops the sugars. Weather conditions sometimes make this infection impossible - in 2012, the world's most famous sweet wine producer, Chateau d'Yquem, produced no wine at all. Wines from Sauternes and Barsac are made primarily from Semillon with Sauvignon Blanc used to add freshness and acidity to the blend. Many of the best Sauternes wines can age for many years, and the best wines perfectly balance freshness and sweetness, and power and subtlety.
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The 2016 Climens was tasted from the 12 different lots that will go into the Grand Vin, with some selected from the Deuxième Vin, Cyprès de Climens. As usual, I had to assemble them in my mind and relate commonalities, though at a négoçiant a week later I re-tasted four preprepared micro-blends. I found much elegance this year. It is not a powerful Climens in the making and even with the higher alcohol lots that reached 14.9%, you could not feel any warmth and the wines maintained the tension. Some lots displayed saline finishes, perhaps a little more than usual. Perhaps the most important factor was just how "Barsac" they all tasted. Drink 2021-2055. 95-97 points. Neal Martin, erobertparker.com, April 2017...read more
2011 was a great year for Sauternes and this second wine of Rieussec shows great botrytis weight and richness as well as a floral and fruity character. Bitter orange marmalade and honey give this still-youthful wine its sweeter and fruitier side. Drink from 2016. 90 points. Wine Enthusiast, May 2014...read more
Golden hue. Tropical notes with plenty of apricots and orange peel. Wow. Wonderful concentration and structure on the palate with multi-layered honey, caramel with a bouquet of tropical fruits. Plenty of power, yet finely structure with a gorgeous complexity with a six pack finish. I'm a big fan. JG....read more
This is closed on the nose with dried lychee and pineapple, but there is a hefty dose of SO2 here. The palate is much better, very pure botrytized fruit, honey, quince, honeysuckle. Has a refined manner to it. Nice kick on the finish, touch of citrus fruit, dried mango and lovely botrytis. Exudes confidence! Drink 2012-2030+ Tasted January 2009. 94 points. Neal Martin, robertparker.com, July 2009...read more
The team at Chateau Rieussec have conjured a stellar wine in 2009. There is a little reduction at first that fortunately blows away, revealing thickly layered scents of honey, Danish pastry and quince that appear to gain vigor with every passing sip. The palate is stunning. very viscous in the mouth with tangy grapefruit, honey and white peach. It is still primal, but the acidity is perfectly judged and there is a life-affirming sense of precision and tension towards the finish. Exceptional. Drink now-2045. 97 points. Neal Martin, Wine Advocate 205, February 2013...read more
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