Saskia de Rothschild shakes up Sauternes

The new bottle of Château Rieussec (sauternes) in the fermentation cellar, on November 19, 2021. Its cork stopper makes it easy to recap, the wine can then be consumed for three weeks after opening.

One could believe in a fad intended to inflate the pile of gifts under the Christmas tree of the influencers, a very limited edition to make speak for oneself. It is much more than that, to the point that one wonders if the bet is not risky. Château Rieussec, Sauternes Premier Cru Classé, which belongs to Saskia de Rothschild, has decided to change the appearance of all its bottles. Now dressed, they are recognizable among a thousand on a shelf, shaking up an appellation renowned for its classicism. This is not trivial.

Its shape is more compact. Above all, the glass is no longer transparent but opaque – 100% recycled, therefore necessarily dark. Impossible to see the beverage before serving it. And then this genius idea: an enormous cork stopper attached to a string allows the bottle to be closed after having opened it. “It can be kept for a month in the fridge. It’s like a bar of chocolate, we take a square from time to time ”, imagine the manager of the estate. A boon also for restaurants, where service by the glass is increasing. Finally, exit the wooden crate, heavy in weight and carbon footprint during shipments, impossible to recycle. Make way for the small box of four bottles, almost cubic, undeniably modern.

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Of course, nothing was left to chance and, exceptionally, the discreet Saskia de Rothschild called on a communication agency to warn the All-Paris of the release of her bottle. An agency that never deals with wine, but rather design, jewelry or decoration. “I wanted to reach an audience other than wine specialists, then confided, rather uncomfortable with the exercise, the young woman of 34 years who has just taken the head of Domaines Barons de Rothschild. They already know Rieussec, we didn’t need to introduce it to them. ”

Fragile properties

The turn is daring. Because Rieussec has four centuries of history behind him. The wine is good, hailed for its qualities in France and internationally. It is one of the most famous sweet wines in the world, bought by the Rothschild family in 1984. Its 85 hectares of vines are contiguous to those of the legendary Château d’Yquem, the flagship of the appellation.

But for Saskia de Rothschild, it was urgent to change. First of all, there is the weak economy of Château Rieussec and, more broadly, of the appellation. In Sauternes, almost all of the properties are fragile. Already, the production of sweet liqueur suffers greatly from climate change. It is suspended from the vagaries of the weather, the arrival of botrytis, this “noble rot” which dries up the grape and concentrates its sugar while magnifying its aromatic potential. As a result, stocks have melted by a third in ten years, the vineyard is multiplying the years “without”.

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Saskia de Rothschild shakes up Sauternes