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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

1997

Yquem

Bordeaux

96 RP

Mint 

6x75cl

1

IB

Still Wine

96 Robert Parker

A sensational Yquem, 1997 may be this estate's finest effort since 1990 (although I would not discount the 1996 turning out to be nearly as good). The 1997's light gold color is accompanied a gorgeous perfume of caramel, honeysuckle, peach, apricot, and smoky wood. Full-bodied and unctuously-textured, with good underlying acidity as well as loads of sweetness and glycerin, it looks to be a great vintage for this renowned Sauternes estate. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2055.

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.

 

94 Neal Martin

I must admit to being rather underwhelmed by this feted Yquem. A slightly deeper colour compared to the -96 and like that wine, the nose is reluctant to show its colours at first but after 20-30 minutes becoming very honeyed with touches of clementine, almond and acacia honey. The palate is full-bodied and unctuous in texture, perhaps just lacking a little definition? Dare I say a tad cloying on the finish. I prefer the tension displayed on the 1996 but this does settle down in the glass. Drink 2020-2040+. Tasted November 2006.


Price: £1,122.00

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