|Owner||LVMH (Moet Hennessy – Louis Vuitton) Group|
|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||5,000 cases|
|Classification||Premier Cru Superieur|
|Interesting Fact||The wine has an interesting translation in Chinese - 滴金 (滴 = drop 金 = gold) and the pronunciation of 滴金 in Chinese is ‘dict gum’ which is similar to d'Yquem in French.|
Up until October 2010, the sweet wines from the Sauternes were banned from being imported to China because they contain more than 250 mg of sulphur per litre. Following the announcement that the wines from famous estates such as Chateau d’Yquem and Climens would officially be allowed into China, many commentators predicted that these great wines would experience strong demand from the Asian market.
Chateau d’Yquem is owned by LVMH, the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate, which bought the Chateau along with St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe Cheval Blanc in the last decade. LVMH aims to make d'Yquem and Cheval Blanc the world’s most premier wines and it is in the best position to exploit the Asian market as many of their brands dominate the most-wanted list of Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai’s finest.
Its extensive distribution lines within China will undoubtedly help to push both d’Yquem and Cheval Blanc. The head of LVMH, Arnault is the world's 4th and Europe's richest person, with a 2011 net worth of US$41 billion. In July 2011, a rare bottle of 1811 Chateau d’Yquem became the world's most valuable bottle of white wine, after it was sold for £75,000.
There is no doubt that the pre-LVMH vintages offer the best opportunities. The 1996 vintage having been scored at 95+ points and compared on an equal footing as the 1997 – makes the best case for investment. The 2001 vintage which scored 100 points and received widespread acclaim, currently trades around £3,900 per case. There could be fantastic growth potential in even the top vintages as in comparison to the hugely popular first growth wines, they are at a considerate reduction.
The most recent vintages to get 100 points are the 2009 and 2015. At £2,650 per 12 the 2015 benchmarks very well against the 2009 (£3,590 per 12).
This is a winery that is no stranger to rubbing shoulders with the rich and powerful, having been owned by a succession of French and English Kings and having been the favourite wine of US President Thomas Jefferson- no wonder d’Yquem is often referred to as the ‘King of wines’.
In 1968, Alexandre de Lur-Saluces was in charge of the estate Chateau d'Yquem in Sauternes, with troubles only arising after luxury goods conglomerate LMVH purchased half the shares in the estate in 1996 for $50 million. There was friction between Lur-Saluces and the new owners which led to a number of law suits being filed and court battles which dragged on for years. Alexandre finally lost control of the estate in 2004 when LMVH purchased the remainder of the shares and Bernard Arnault, gained a personal majority among the shareholders.
Pierre Lurton, managing director at Chateau Cheval Blanc was appointed as the president of Chateau d'Yquem and in 2003, LMVH made one of the most significant economic changes in D’Yquem’s history when they ushered in the practice of selling en primeur, which poses its own unique challenges in an estate that does not release a vintage for 4-5 years after the harvest year.
Chateau d'Yquem Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau d'Yquem
There are 10,000 cases of this perfect sweet white Bordeaux. The 2001 Yquem reveals a hint of green in its light gold color. While somewhat reticent aromatically, with airing, it offers up honeyed tropical fruit, orange marmalade, pineapple, sweet creme brulee, and buttered nut-like scents. In the mouth, it is full-bodied with gorgeously refreshing acidity as well as massive concentration and unctuosity. Everything is uplifted and given laser-like focus by refreshing acidity. This large-scaled, youthful Yquem appears set to take its place among the most legendary vintages of the past, and will age effortlessly for 75+ years. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2100+.
1990: An extraordinary effort, Yquem's 1990 is a rich and fabulously superb, sweet wine. This wine also possesses lots of elegance and finesse. The wine's medium gold color is accompanied by an exceptionally sweet nose of honeyed tropical fruits, peaches, coconut, and apricots. High quality, subtle toasty oak is well-integrated. The wine is massive on the palate, with layers of intensely ripe botrytis-tinged, exceptionally sweet fruit. Surprisingly well-integrated acidity, and a seamless, full-bodied power and richness have created a wine of remarkable harmony and purity. Certainly it is one of the richest Yquems I have ever tasted, with 50-100 years of potential longevity. An awesome Yquem! Anticipated maturity: 2003-2050+.
With greater evidence of botrytis than the colossal 1983, but less power and alcohol, the 1986 d'Yquem tastes reminiscent of the 1975, only more precocious. Several highly respected Bordeaux negociants who are d'Yquem enthusiasts had claimed the 1986 d'Yquem was the greatest wine produced at the property since the legendary 1937. However, after the release of the 1988 they concluded that the 1988 surpassed even the 1986. The 1986's enthralling bouquet of pineapples, sauteed hazelnuts, vanillin, and ripe apricots is breathtaking. Compellingly concentrated, its breadth as well as depth of flavor seemingly know no limits. This full-bodied, powerful, yet impeccably elegant d'Yquem should provide memorable drinking for 40-55 more years. Anticipated maturity: 2000-2040. Last tasted, 7/93.
Tasted single blind against its peers. Under blind conditions, the Yquem 2007 shines like a diamond. Nevertheless, it is initially rather taciturn on the nose, eventually opening up beautifully with touches of lemon curd, Mirabelle, and clear honey. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine definition and there seems to be a great deal of energy and vigor dispensed for your pleasure. There is such race and nervosity, and then that finish just purrs with harmony and focus. This Yquem feels just so alive and vivacious, yet there is an effortless quality here that is unmatched by its peers. Tasted January 2011.
The 2009 Yquem has an almost ethereal nose, beautifully defined with scents of honey, honeysuckle, pear, fresh apricot and a hint of quince. It blossoms in the glass, gaining intensity and expanding across the ether. The immediate impression is not of a powerful, rich, botrytis-laden Yquem, but one that has semblances with the 2007 in terms of poise and precision, the acidity defining the wine in its youth and around that, subtle notes of honey, fig, pear, apricot and just a hint of ginger adding vibrancy and edginess towards the pure and tensile finish. As expected, there is extraordinary persistency, lingering in the mouth long after the wine has disappeared, yet it will remain long in the memory.
Picked predominantly over 10 days from October 14, the 2010 d’Yquem has 141gms/L residual sugar and pH 3.80. It is a slow-burner, the nose understated at first but unfurling with each passing moment with subtle scents of freshly sliced apricots, Clementine, clear honey and white flowers. There is an underlying minerality that really defines this bouquet. The palate is similar to the nose, revealing hidden facets with almost each swirl of the glass – orange blossom, limestone, white peach and honeysuckle. This is such a precise d’Yquem; it is after you have swallowed the wine that one comprehends just how brilliant it is.
While no surprise here, this wine, which will be bottled in 2009, is certainly this estate’s greatest effort since their 2001. It completely outclasses everything from the appellation, but even when you’re number one, that’s often hard to do. This light gold wine offers up a sensational smorgasbord of aromas including huge honeyed pineapple and other caramelized tropical fruit flavors, massive richness, and a viscous, unctuous texture with the oak beautifully integrated. The wine has enough acidity to buttress its full-bodied mouthfeel, but this is not by any means the sweetest or most alcoholic of the d’Yquems I have tasted. In fact, in the range of d’Yquems, this is a powerful wine, but it is one built more on finesse and elegance, a la the 1988. Nevertheless, this wine will prove to have 50+ years of longevity. The finish, the mid-palate, the sensation of looking at a skyscraper of Semillon with a small dosage of Sauvignon, is impressive. Like all of the sweet wines of Barsac and Sauternes, one can drink this young, but the nuances and complexities really don’t emerge for at least a decade, especially in the case of a wine such as this. Bravo!
The favorite sweet wine of millionaires, Chateau d'Yquem has, not unexpectedly, turned in a brilliant effort with their newly released 1989. It is a large-scaled, massively rich, unctuously-textured wine that should evolve effortlessly for a half century or more. It does not reveal the compelling finesse and complexity of the 1988 or 1986, but it is a far heavier, richer wine than either of those vintages. It is reminiscent of the 1976, with additional fat and glycerin. The wine is extremely alcoholic and rich, with a huge nose of smoky, honey-covered coconuts and overripe pineapples and apricots. As with most young vintages of Yquem, the wine's structure is barely noticeable. These wines are so highly extracted and rich yet approachable young, it is difficult to believe they will last for 50 or more years. The 1989 is the richest Yquem made in the eighties, and it has an edge in complexity over the powerhouse 1983. It remains to be seen whether this wine will develop the extraordinary aromatic complexity possessed by the promising 1988 and 1986 Yquems. Last tasted 11/97
The 2011 d'Yquem seems to be a close cousin of the 2001 and possibly the 1988. Light gold in color, restrained but pure and noble, it offers an intense bouquet of honeysuckle, caramelized apricot and white peach with a subtle hint of toasty oak. It builds slowly but beautifully to a full-bodied wine with a long finish. This vintage is about restraint and perfect balance despite the 144 grams of residual sugar. Some vintages are more exuberant or flamboyant, but 2011 is racy and compelling. Of course, these wines can be drunk young, but expect the 2011 to age for 50-75+ years in a good cellar.
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.