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This last vintage of the “Rx” trilogy was a veritable success due to stringent selection but this was at the expense of quantity – less than half of what was produced in either of the other two years. The wine is fresh and bright with more red fruit than black and filigree tannins that knit beautifully to provide this wine with longevity
|When to Drink||Now to 2030+|
|Producer||Chateau Rousseau de Sipian|
|Grapes||Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot|
|Volume||75cl (Full Bottle)|
2011 – “Low yields produced wines of big fruit...”
2011 was a complicated vintage where summer weather appeared in spring (April was one of the hottest months) and spring weather appeared in summer (it was the coldest July in over thirty years). Uneven ripening meant dependence on sorting at an early harvest where yields were at a record low and berries were small, meaning big tannins. This last vintage of the “Rx” trilogy was a veritable success due to stringent selection but this was at the expense of quantity – less than half of what was produced in either of the other two years. The wine is fresh and bright with more red fruit than black and filigree tannins that knit beautifully to provide this wine with longevity.
The “Rx” wines of Rousseau de Sipian
In memory of Roy Racey, who was the original inspiration behind the renaissance of Château Rousseau de Sipian, a decision was made to create a special wine and to name it with the symbol that defined Roy’s work as a pharmacist for almost half a century.
By 2005, Château Rousseau de Sipian had already established itself as an award-winning producer of some of the finest and best-value wines that the Médoc had to offer. This judgement was later reinforced when British Airways purchased half of our entire wine production of the 2006 vintage, to be served in Business Class on all of their worldwide long-haul flights throughout the Summer Olympics of 2012.
One of the three key elements to producing the Special Cuvée “Rx” wines was to be the introduction of a third grape variety to the blend. Petit Verdot vines were planted in the grounds of the Château where they would be under the constant watchful eyes of the wine-making team. These grapes, when fully ripe and harvested late, would add body, longevity and elements of “spiciness” to the wine, much as a cook would use herbs and spices to add more dimensions to the flavours of a dish’s main ingredients.
The second key element was the use of 100% new French Oak Barrels and to age the wines in these barrels for a minimum of two years (the purchasing of new oak barrels is the single most expensive element of making a quality wine in Bordeaux.)
The third key element was “selection”. In other words, following the sorting of bunches in the vineyards and sorting of the grapes at the winery, a third (vigorous) sorting of the individual grapes took place on a sorting table before the very best grapes were consigned to the fermentation vats where the “Rx” wines were to be made.
All of these efforts have resulted in three consecutive vintages (2009, 2010 and 2011) of a very special wine that is unlikely to ever be repeated. In quality terms, the “Rx” wines stand shoulder-to-shoulder with many of the Classified Growth wines that can be found commanding hundreds of pounds per bottle and often traded in investment markets. However, “Rx” wines are not intended to be for investment. They are an opportunity to enjoy the very best that Bordeaux can create, without having to pay for the investment value of a “brand”.
Musings from the Tasting Room – the “Rx” wines of Rouseau de Sipian
Wine-tasting can sometimes be a lonely activity so it’s hardly surprising that one often tries to strike up a conversation with the wines themselves. It’s been many months since I last tasted any of the “Rx” wines and I also realise that I’ve never before tasted all three vintages in a single (vertical) tasting.
As I popped the three corks, each of the bottles screamed “WOW” to me as the aromas pervaded the room – rich and pungent in a hedonistic sense. Although I knew that I would write profuse tasting notes (it’s hard to kick the habit), I’ve also come to realise that wines speak to us all in different ways so I decided to avoid planting my detailed subjective analyses on our customers and Wine Club members and keep it simple by asking each of these wines the question - “who would you like to be when you grow up?”
Unsurprisingly, as siblings, their first response was unanimous as they exclaimed – “We’ve already grown up”. OK, I had to admit they were right. They’ve transcended the difficult years, left puberty behind them and are now young adults, ready to head off in their different directions to make their individual mark on the world of wine. I was forced to re-phrase my question – “who do you aspire to be compared with when the world regards you as a mature adult and what makes you think that you will achieve such recognition?”
Ahah, now the siblings have their chance to express their individual personalities that had begun to be framed by the influences of nature during their infancy. Here’s what they said:
2009 – “I would like to be compared with Chateaux Margaux, Petrus and Figeac because of my elegance and femininity.”
2010 – “I would like to be compared with Chateaux Mouton-Rothschild and Leoville Las Cases because of my plush, ripe body that was born to be on stage.”
2011 – “I’m more of a city guy so I would like to be compared with Chateaux La Mission Haut-Brion and Smith Havt-Lafitte because I have a fine structure that displays my minerality.”
Three siblings with so much in common and yet so much to distinguish them!
Seriously though, these are “big” wines that are able to challenge the “Great and the Good of Bordeaux”. Why wait thirty or forty years for one of the Classified Growths to be at its prime? All of the three “Rx” siblings are ready to be enjoyed now as well as for many years to come.
Chris Racey Director and Wine Judge
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