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Yquem

Château d'Yquem is a Premier Cru Supérieur (Fr: "Superior First Growth") wine from the Sauternes, Gironde region in the southern part of the Bordeaux vineyards known as Graves. In the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, Château d'Yquem was the only Sauternes given this rating, indicating its perceived superiority and higher prices over all other wines of its type. Yquem's success stems largely from the site's susceptibility to attack by "noble rot" (Botrytis cinerea).

Wines from Château d'Yquem are characterised by their complexity, concentration and sweetness. A relatively high acidity helps to balance the wine's sweetness. Another characteristic for which Château d'Yquem wines are known is theirlongevity. With proper care, a bottle will keep for a century or more. During this time, the fruity overtones will gradually fade and integrate with more complex secondary and tertiary flavours.

Since 1959 (though not every year), Château d'Yquem has also produced a dry white wine called Ygrec (Fr: the letter "Y"), made from an equal blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon blanc.

The vineyard has 126 hectares (310 acres) in the Sauternes appellation, though only 100 hectares (250 acres) are in production at any time. Each year, vines from two to three hectares are grubbed up and left fallow for a year. Since grapes from newly planted vines are not worthy of the chateau name for five to seven years, about 20 hectares are held in reserve each year. The vines consist of 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon blanc, though the latter's vigour implies the proportions are more nearly equal in the final wine.

Harvesting is carefully timed, and on average six tries through the vineyard are undertaken each year to ensure that only the botrytized grapes are selected. The yield averages nine hectolitres per hectare (2.5 acres), compared to the usual twelve to twenty hectolitres per hectare in Sauternes. The grapes are pressed three times and transferred to oak barrels for maturation over a period of about three years.

On average, 65,000 bottles are produced each year. In a poor vintage, the entire crop is deemed unworthy of bearing the Château's name and sold anonymously; this happened nine times in the 20th century: 1910, 1915, 1930, 1951, 1952, 1964, 1972, 1974, and 1992 and in the 21st century one time: 2012.

White

1996

Yquem

Bordeaux

95 RP

Mint 

12x37.5cl

2

IB

Still Wine

95 Robert Parker

Compared with the flamboyant aromatics of the 1997, Yquem's 1996 plays it closer to the vest, although there is a lot going on. Light gold with a tight but promising nose of roasted hazelnuts intermixed with creme brulee, vanilla beans, honey, orange marmalade, and peaches, this medium to full-bodied offering reveals loads of power in its restrained, measured personality. There is admirable acidity, weight, texture, and purity in this impeccably made Yquem. However, patience will be a virtue. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2060.

Note: Yquem spends 42 months in 100% new oak. No cask tasting is permitted, and the wine is not released until 5 years after the vintage. For example, the 1998 will be released some time in 2003; the 2001 will not be released until 2006.

 

95 Neal Martin

Tasted single blind at a dinner in Hong Kong. It is a while since I last tasted this vintage. Like before, the nose is tightly coiled and demands coaxing from the glass, but eventually it yields and offers a lovely bouquet of wild honey, honeysuckle, lemon curd and barleysugar. The palate is more tensile then I remember on the entry, with a keen thread of acidity and notes of mandarin, Seville orange, tinned apricot and honey, hints of almond sprinkled over the finish. It does not quite have the complexity of a top flight Yquem, but it is still a great Sauternes for long-term consideration. Tasted November 2011.


Price: £1,305.00

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