2017 Chateau d’Yquem 375 ml (half bottle)



From the Oxford Companion:

“Yquem, Château d’, the greatest wine of sauternes and, according to the famous 1855 classification, of the entire bordeaux region. It is sweet, golden, and apparently almost immortal.

“The origin of the name is obscure, although the Germanic aig-helm (meaning ‘to have a helmet’) is claimed. Probably the first vineyard-owning family were the Sauvages, who, from being tenants, bought the estate in 1711. It was acquired by the Lur Saluces family in 1785, when the last Sauvage d’Yquem married Comte Louis-Amadée de Lur Saluces. By then the wine was very well known, for in 1787 Thomas jefferson wrote to ‘M. d’Yquem’, asking to buy some, stating, ‘I know that yours is one of the best growths of Sauterne [sic]’. It is not known when Yquem was first made with botrytized grapes, those affected by noble rot, but this painstaking technique probably originated early in the 19th century, although very sweet bottles dating from the latter part of the 18th century have been found. In the second half of the 19th century, Yquem had a worldwide reputation, not least in tsarist russia. From before the First World War until 1968, the estate was run by the Marquis Bernard de Lur Saluces who was succeeded in 1968 by Comte Alexandre, who also owns Ch de Fargues in Sauternes (although in 1999 lvmh acquired majority ownership after a bitter family struggle). Pierre Lurton, also manager of Ch cheval blanc, was subsequently installed by LVMH.

“The château, dating back to the 15th century and the Renaissance, stands on the crest of a small hill, with small towers at each corner and a large inner courtyard. The vineyard on all sides extends to 99 ha/245 acres in production out of a total of 125 ha. The vines planted are 80% sémillon and 20% of the usually more productive sauvignon blanc. Production averages 8,000 cases, a fraction of the typical output of a top red wine property in the médoc. The secret of Yquem’s renown is its susceptibility to noble rot, and its ability to run risks and sacrifice quantity for painstakingly upheld quality. An average of five passages, or tries, are made through the vineyard each year so that only the botrytis-affected grapes are picked. The maximum yield is 9 hl/ha (0.5 tons/acre), compared with the normal 25 in Sauternes. The juice is pressed three times, and then treated to three years’ barrel maturation in new oak casks. The cost of the whole operation makes Yquem a very expensive wine.”

Critical acclaim:

“99 points.

“There was no frost at d’Yquem in 2017, and botrytis was very regular and even this vintage. The nose opens with very pure notes of freshly sliced oranges, yuzu and lemon barley water with hints of white pepper, fresh ginger and lime cordial. The incredibly rich, unctuous sweetness (148 grams per liter of residual sugar) is beautifully marbled with bright, vivacious citrus fruit and spice flavors, while lifted by well-knit freshness, and it finishes with epic length and great depth.” – Wine Advocate

“99 points.

“This is a great Yquem, delivering thrilling purity and intensity. The nose offers intense aromas of fresh and dried apricot and peach pastry, as well as freshly baked creme brulee, candied and fresh orange and kumquat. Some marmalade, too. Smooth, glossy texture with flavors of grilled orange, dried apricot and an exceptionally long finish with a powerful, driving push to the end. A flicker of toasty-oak influence arrives late, but this wine has completely consumed the oak. The 2017 Yquem is a very powerful wine from a very rich and exceptional vintage. The acidity has a big hand in balancing the richness. Pithy finish. The phenolics deliver some great depth. Rain at the beginning of September prompted an extensive infection of noble rot. The harvest lasted from September 26 to October 13. Great quality and one of the best since the legendary 2001. Drink or hold.” – James Suckling

“99 points.

“Crisp notes of vanilla, marzipan, pineapple, mango, orange rind, flowers, and candied apricot are right there, as soon as wine the moves from the bottle to your glass. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, fresh, sweet, ripe and zippy. There is length, purity and precision. The lingering pineapple, apricot and sweet, lemon curd on your palate gets life from the jolt of racy acidity that runs down the middle. This is a top vintage for Chateau d’Yquem that is defined by its vibrant, freshness. What made 2017 so good, is the speed in which the sugar levels reached maximum potential. The harvest took place September 26 – October 13. The wine was made from blending 75% Semillon and 25% Sauvignon Blanc, reaching 13.6% with sugars hitting 48 G/L. The Grand Vin was made from 40% of the harvest.” – Wine Cellar Insider

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