Sweet Sauternes: France’s forgotten wine gets a reputational makeover
Saskia de Rothschild is on a mission to revive the popularity of Sauternes white wine, with Rieussec, produced and packaged with a fresh, more sustainable approach
Sauternes, for those who even know what it is, has developed a bit of an unfavourable reputation in recent years. A sweet white wine made in the Bordeaux region of the same name, Sauternes was once a highly prized indulgence, but today it is rarely served outside of end-of-year celebrations or perhaps alongside the occasional foie gras.
Yet there is a revolution brewing in Bordeaux; one aimed at upending the tired reputation of Sauternes and restoring it to its place as a wine du jour. It’s a coup led by Saskia de Rothschild, the sixth generation leader of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) wine group, which produces some of the most esteemed wine in the world and spans multiple Bordeaux estates, as well as wineries in China, Argentina, and Chile.
De Rothschild has spent her lifetime learning the ins and outs of her family’s vineyards, and since assuming the role of Lafite chairwoman she has steered the company towards a more sustainable agriculture. Château Rieussec, the estate on which she is growing her new take on Sauternes, is a continuation of her ecological project.
‘The time had come for Rieussec to reinvent itself, so that the vineyard, wine and bottle all share the same commitment to sustainable development, from agriculture that is more respectful of the environment through to the preservation of natural resources provided by our new packaging,' explains de Rothschild. ‘Devising an original bottle, one that you want to keep when it’s finished, is part of this same philosophy.’
The bottle is made of 95 per cent recycled glass and emblazoned with a simple, graphic crown that gives the wine a distinctly modern edge. Most impressive is the bottle’s replaceable cork closure; created by Swiss design studio Big-Game (which has worked with the likes of Hay, Alessi, and Muuto), it makes it possible for the wine to keep in the fridge for several weeks after it is opened.
When it comes to what is inside the bottle, Rieussec does not disappoint. Because of Sauternes’ unique climate, it is one of the few regions in the world where ‘noble rot’ (a moulding of the grapes that gives it a distinct, honeyed flavour) can happen frequently. It also means that each harvest of the Rieussec grapes has its own distinct flavour.
‘Each vintage is totally different depending on what nature, the climate and the action of noble rot want to give us,’ says estate director Jean de Roquefeuil. ‘And even more so since we are undergoing conversion to a more responsible form of agriculture.’
Rieussec is certainly an interesting experiment in wine-making. Whether this reimagining of Sauternes will catch on remains to be seen, but we’ll have our glassware sets at the ready to toast it.
Mary Cleary is the Beauty & Grooming Editor of Wallpaper*. Having been with the brand since 2017, she became an editor in February 2020 with the launch of the brand’s new beauty & grooming channel. Her work seeks to offer a new perspective on beauty, focusing on the pioneering personalities, product designs, and transformative trends within the industry.
Ruinart’s Food For Art promises culinary delights in Basel
Hosted during Art Basel in Basel 2023, Ruinart’s latest Food For Art dinner draws on Eva Jospin’s Carte Blanche commission
By Simon Mills • Published
Space Invader wraps a 1970s Berkeley house in a ‘low-resolution’ wrapper
Space Invader by OPA is the modern reimagining of a 1970s San Francisco house
By Ellie Stathaki • Published
Acne Studios has created a fantasy house in the pages of latest Acne Paper
The new edition of Acne Studios’ printed magazine Acne Paper features ‘rooms’ filled with works and furniture by El Anatsui, Faye Toogood, Maurizio Cattelan, Rick Owens and others. Editor-in-chief Thomas Persson tells Wallpaper* more
By Jack Moss • Published
Château Galoupet is teaching the world how to drink more responsibly
From reviving an endangered Provençal ecosystem to revisiting wine packaging, Château Galoupet aims to transform winemaking from terroir to bottle
By Mary Cleary • Last updated
London’s most refreshing summer cocktail destinations
Cool down in the sweltering city with a visit to London’s summer cocktail destinations
By Mary Cleary • Last updated
Learn how to curate a simple cheese board with perfect port pairings
The experts at artisan cheesemonger Paxton & Whitfield share tips for curating a simple but sophisticated cheese board, with port and cheese pairings for every taste
By Melina Keays • Last updated
IWA sake brewery by Kengo Kuma is Best Roofscape: Wallpaper* Design Awards 2022
IWA sake brewery in Japan, by Kengo Kuma & Associates, scoops Best Roofscape at the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2022
By Tony Chambers • Last updated
The Chuan Malt Whisky Distillery by Neri & Hu offers a twist on Chinese tradition
Neri & Hu designs headquarters for The Chuan Malt Whisky Distillery in China's Sichuan province
By Yoko Choy • Last updated
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel opens Booking Office 1869 restaurant
Booking Office 1869 restaurant, at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, is set to become a new London hotspot. Developer Harry Handelsman and designer Hugo Toro tell us about its creation
By Mary Cleary • Last updated
Le Dôme by Foster + Partners perfectly blends architecture and landscape
Foster + Partners’ new winery for French producer Le Dôme is a perfectly balanced blend of architecture and landscape
By Natasha Levy • Last updated
Wondrous Brewing Company celebrates new minimalist home in San Francisco
Wondrous Brewing Company's new headquarters by Garcia Tamjidi Architecture Design makes its mark in San Francisco
By Shawn Adams • Last updated