Shining lemon yellow colour, this is full of abundant tropical fruits, guava and melons, leading into subtle flavours of honey, toffee and caramelised peaches. Intoxicatingly perfumed, it has an unmatched purity. It delivers everything a step above its neighbours, showing its peerless beauty. Deliciously textured, with cascading layers, while the vital balancing acidity ensures it is not excessively sweet.
The 2015 Château d'Yquem is a blend of 75% Semillon and 25% Sauvignon Blanc that was picked on the gravelly soils as early as 3 and 4 September until 21 October, four tries through the vineyard. It delivers 144 grams per liter of residual sugar, with six-grams of tartaric acid, a pH 3.65 and 13.9% alcohol. It has a show-stopping bouquet that is beautifully defined and very complex and exuberant, infused with greater mineralité than recent vintages - intense but not as flamboyant as say the 2009 Yquem at this stage. The palate boasts absolutely stunning balance. This is a Yquem without a hair out of place: fantastically pure, botrytised fruit caressing the mouth. That is as per normal. What distinguishes this Yquem is the sense of electricity that is imbued by that razor-sharp acidity. There is just unbelievably tension here and to be frank, there is little point in me continuing to write this note, because it is simply an astonishing Yquem that will rank alongside the 2001 and 2009. Drink: 2028 - 2090
Mid gold. Very direct and glossy. Edge of veg and toast. Real tension! Tense pear juice with lots of grip and attack. Lots of acidity as well as all that sugar. Really energetic. Long. Amazing persistence. So neat. Real attack. Massive apparent acidity. 13.9% Drink 2027-2055
This is an incredible young Yquem that is so vinous like a great vintage of Montrachet but then on the palate it turns to Yquem with spice, dried fruit and mushroom as well as sweet fruit. Last for minutes. Acidity is all there giving it a dynamic vibrance that jolts your senses. Special wine. It has a little more than than 140 grams of residual sugar, less than the legendary of 2001. But is very close in greatness. Let’s wait and see.
About 75% Semillon and 25% Sauvignon Blanc. Very pure, intense aromas and flavours of peach, lemon curd, tangerine and marmalade botrytis notes. Boasts 144g/l sugar and 6.2 g/l total acidity. Very pure, long and racy rather than rich. It doesn’t have the power of 2001 or 2009, nor the freshness of 2011 or 2014, but it is a great wine in the making. If the vintage allows, I’d go back to an 80%/20% Sem-Sauv blend to get back a little of that magical d’Yquem richness.
(75 Semillon, 25 Sauvignon Blanc) | 13.9% alc. | 144 g/l residual sugar. The nose is thrillingly piercing with intense citrus notes and a volume of scent which is arresting. There is power here and fascinating tension between the richness of sugar and powerful acidity - thanks to the cool temperatures in August and September. One of the hallmarks of Yquem’s potential is the control and lack of unnecessary exuberance in its youth. This is buttoned up and fastened down and the power, while yearning to be released, will not emerge for a long time to come. This is a seriously good Yquem.
The vintage at Yquem was the earliest since 1893, starting on the 3rd of September and continuing for another seven weeks. The result is one of the best ever wines from the château, combining exotic flavours of pineapple, tangerine and mango underpinned by a core of acidity and scented vanilla oak. Every bit as good as 2001, 2009 and 2014. Drink: 2020-36
Château d'Yquem sits on its own in more ways than one. It has its own rank at the top of the 1855 classification - Premier Cru Supérieur - and it lies near the peak at the centre of the Southern Sauternes appellation. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the best white wine in France was produced there (although it would have been quite a different wine to today's).Once belonging to Eleanor of Aquitaine, Château d'Yquem passed to the french crown upon her marriage to the future King Louis VII. After the marriage was annulled, Eleanor was free to marry Henry Plantagenet, who became King Henry II of England, in 1154. Château d'Yquem remained in British hands until the end of the Hundred Years War (1453).The Sauvage dYquem family acquired it in 1593 and maintained ownership until the 18th century, a time throughout which they modified and added to the Château and the reputation of the wine was sealed.Despite the family losing the estate after the revolution, they managed to wrest control of it once more, and Francoise-Josephine Sauvage d'Yquem again continued to build the estate. The estate passed through the Lur-Saluces family until it reached Bertrand de Lur-Saluces. Bertrand introduced the dry white wine "Y" (pronounced ygrec in french). In 1968 upon Bertrand's death, the estate passed to his nephew Alexandre Lur-Saluces who tended the estate until family politics saw the control of the estate land with LMVH and Pierre Lurton who manages Cheval Blanc (also a LMVH property) now looks after the estate. The vineyards are a total of 113ha in all, only about 100ha are actually in production, thus allowing the the replacement of elderly vines and some land to lie fallow. It is planted with 80% Semillion and 20% Sauvignon Blanc, due to the latter's increased productivity, the end result is a more even distribution in the bottle. Yields are about 9hl/ha compared to 20 to 30 hl/ha in other sauternes properties. The site it particulaly susceptible to botrytis, or Noble rot, which causes the grapes to shrivel whilst concentrating the sugars and introducing levels of complexity. Harvest is extremely labour intensive, with several "tries" picking the grapes in the correct condition. The wine is fermented in Oak with typically three years spent in the barrel. On average about 65,000 bottles are produced every year.
It is not an exaggeration to say that these are the greatest sweet wines in the world. They are the result of a serendipitous marriage of grape variety, location, annual weather conditions and human care and determination. The vineyards are located on the banks of the cool spring-fed Ciron river which, in autumn, flows into the warmer tidal Garonne and creates rolling evening mists which clothe the vines until the afternoon sun burns them off the following day. This cycle creates perfect conditions for the development of botrytis cinerea or noble rot, and the resulting grape juice is a super concentrated sweet, ambrosial nectar which makes the most heavenly and complex wines with extraordinary ability to age. In 1855 the wines were classified into first and second growths, with Ch d'Yquem rightly receivingits own super status of premier grand cru. Other stunning wines include Chx Sudiraut, Rieussec, Coutet and Climens. While seductively fragrant and sweet when young, if you can bear to wait, you will be amply rewarded with lusciously rich, exotically complex wine.