About the Wine
Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes is in a class all by itself, truly. When the 1855 classification of Sauternes designated certain sweet white wines as either Premier Cru or Second Cru, Chateau d’Yquem was so superior to the other classified wines that it was given its own classification,Premier Cru Superieur.
Sauternes is the iconic sweet wine of Bordeaux, made primarily from Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes that have been naturally effected bynoble rot, Botrytis fungus. In this case, it’s a desirable fungus, allowing theperfect growing conditions for sweet wine. The fungus causes small holes in the skin of the grapes, and the grapes dehydrate on the vine, concentrating the sugar in the grapes. They look like raisins at harvest.
The result is a wine withcomplex flavors and aromas, and no Sauternes is more famous for that complexity than Chateau d’Yquem, a wine with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity plus incredible aging potential. Many connoisseurs won’t open a bottle for at least 10 years. While 2019 can certainly age that long, and much longer, this vintage—born out of a wet season that created the ideal conditions for noble rot—doesn’t have to wait that long.
Decanter notes that it’s “highly appealing to drink right away” so if you can’t resist, pop the cork sooner rather than later. But if you can resist, you’ll be rewarded by a wine that transforms over time with its fruit flavors mellowing and it's honey and caramel notes taking precedence.
And, yes, Sauternes is often called a dessert wine and it is the perfect accompaniment to bleu cheese, cheesecake, fruit tart, and cheese platter. That shouldn’t stop you from pairing it with scallops or lobster, foie gras, or Thai food. It’sa versatile wine.
Tasting Notes: 55% Semillon and 45% Sauvignon Blanc. Fragrant and vibrant with aromas of white flowers, honeysuckle, peaches, and apricots. Flavors of honey, lemon, mango, and light caramel. Balanced acidity.
Owners LVMH took the decision to delay the release of the 2019 Yquem until spring 2022. It was tasted with winemaker Sandrine Garbay in London. After the summer drought when Sauternes received just 2.5mm of rain until 26 July, that day saw a 112mm deluge that replenished underground reserves and gave ripening the push it needed. Dry and warm conditions prevailed throughout September when there was no sign of botrytis infection. That was finally provoked by 38mm of rain between 21 and 25 of September, followed by warm clement weather. After minor picking of Sauvignon Blanc on 7 of October, the main harvest began in earnest on 10 October. Pickers worked over the following five days, including Sunday. Time was of the essence because, as forecasts predicted, the weather suddenly changed on 14 of October with 40mm or rain. After that, the picking teams skirted between showers between 17 and 22 of October, though by now the fruit had begun to deteriorate. Therefore, the key aspect of this Yquem is the extremely tight picking window. The final blend contains 138g/L residual sugar, which is slightly less than the previous vintage, with 5.5g/L total acidity and 14.4% alcohol. Tasting the 2019, I noticed that it has a slightly paler hue compared to recent vintages (though I never read too much into the colour of young Sauternes.) For certain, it has ahighly-aromatic bouquet that is beguiling in purity, enticing aromas of honeysuckle and saffron, soon joined by camomile, white flowers and orange blossom. It has wonderful delineation and gains intensity with aeration. The palate is supremelywell-balanced with fine bead of acidity. Very harmonious and armed with just the right amount of viscosity, this Yquem is surprisingly understated at first but gains presence, offering irresistible flavoursof layers of honey, lemongrass, lemon thyme and orange pith. Yquem is so tempting in its youth, but I feel that this vintage will repay those with the nous to cellar for at least a decade. ~98 Vinous
The 2019 vintage of Château d'Yquem has the highest proportion (45%) of Sauvignon Blanc in any modern Yquem. The Sauvignon Blanc adds to the freshness, acting as a great balance to the succulent, sweet and voluptuous palate. Intense peach and apricot, combined with lemon and orange zest, make this highly appealing to drink right away – an ideal vintage with which to start Yquem’s ‘lighthouse’ project. However, it would be a shame not to give this 10+ years maturation to see how it develops. Very well, I suspect. The growing season was both warm and wet, with mildew a big threat. After a mostly dry September, 40mm rain came at the end of the month, leading to a very short harvest window. All of the Yquem grapes were picked in two tries within a one-week period. Residual Sugar: 138g/L. Drinking Window 2025 - 2060. ~97 Decanter
Medium golden yellow, silver reflections. Fine blossom honey, a hint of Bourbon vanilla, ripe yellow tropical fruit, candied orange zest, delicately ripe mango, mace, and orange blossoms in the background. Juicy, noticeable residual sweetness of 138 g, opulent but not sumptuous style, well-integrated wood components, mineral-salty, still a bit underdeveloped, a hint of apricot on the finish, good length, very harmonious and easy to drink, with reliable aging potential. ~97 Falstaff
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