Château d’Yquem 2019 375ML
• Domaine: Château d'Yquem
• Appellation: Sauternes
• Classification: Superior First Growth, Premier Cru Supérior in 1855
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Château d’Yquem is considered by many to be one of the greatest – if not the greatest – wines in Bordeaux. This luscious, weighty, complexly honeyed nectar has captivated the palates of many throughout the ages. From critics such as Robert Parker who swear by this wine, to United States Presidents of yore like Thomas Jefferson, there is one thing they can all agree on – Château d’Yquem is one of the best wines in the world.
The history of this estate is a lengthy one, dating back to the middle ages when it was owned by the King of England. Over a century later, the property was acquired by Jacques Sauvage, who had the château built within the Sauternes appellation. The same château still stands to this day. Château d’Yquem produced Sauternes in 1666 and hosts a lengthy legacy of perfecting the craft of this high-risk endeavor. For those familiar with Sauternes, they will understand that in order for a producer to craft the honeyed nectar of Sauternes, significant portions of the vineyard must be infected with the noble rot or botrytis cinera. This noble rot raisinates the grapes just prior to the harvest and vinification process and the result is a truly memorable wine with a rich consistency, lingering finish, and honeyed taste. Sauternes production is a risky business– as nature can be incredibly fickle and the cultivation of botrytis is very much left to chance. If the rot does not infect enough of the vineyards, high-ranking producers like Château d’Yquem will abstain from crafting a vintage all together. Because of this, each successful vintage of Sauternes is a treasure meant to be celebrated in its own right, and producers that achieve the quality level of Château d’Yquem are truly remarkable vignerons.
Château d’Yquem is blessed with some truly exceptional terroir, and it is the only producer that is classified as a First Growth Premier Cru Superieur within the appellation. The 113 hectare property is planted in the highest elevation of the Sauternes appellation at an impressive 80 meters above sea level. The microclimate is very unique to Château d’Yquem, with gentle winds that remove excessive moisture – but allow just enough to cultivate the noble rot. The estate hosts limestone and clay soils of myriad colors. Interestingly enough, Château d’Yquem hosts the same blue clay as the legendary Pomerol producer, Château Petrus. The plantings of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc are harvested by hand, berry by berry, in a series of multiple passes. The wine is then vinified in New French oak, with the assistance of Pierre Lurton – who is also associated with the legendary Saint-Émilion estate Château Cheval Blanc.
Château d’Yquem is a wine that any person should experience at least once. It is surprisingly versatile, and though distinctly honeyed, it pairs with a plethora of dishes. Sauternes is a stunning alternative to dry wines when paired with poultry dishes and is exceptional with cheeses of any kind. The wine’s sweetness contrasts beautifully with exotically flavored and spicy dishes as well.
“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 a highly-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 supremely well-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 flavours of 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.” - Neal Martin, vinous (2/2022) Ratings: 98, Drink: 2032-2080
"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." - Andy Howard MW, Decanter, Ratings: 97, Drink: 2025-2060