Everyone has their desert island wine. If I was trapped on a desert island, my choice would be clear. Top vintage Chateau d’YQuem. I’ve had a soft spot for Sauternes for decades and started buying Sauternes when I was in graduate school fifteen years ago. While I might not possess a top shelf range of d’YQuem wines like some of my colleagues, I have a few that are best consumed for special occasions. The storied Sauternes estate was the only Sauternes property to be given the the Premier Cru Superior designation from the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. The world wine community recognizes this estate as producing the best wines from Sauternes. The site itself is perfectly situated for achieving a high degree of botrytis in even the most challenging of vintages.
This summer I had the chance to review one with eminent vigneron Christophe Baron and his talented assistant vigneron Elizabeth Bourcier. I chose the 2002 Chateau d’YQuem which was the star from what was generally a difficult vintage in Sauternes and Bordeaux as a region. While 2001 was seen as a dream vintage in Sauternes (and in my mind 2003 as well), 2002 had several problems during the growing season, as rain interrupted the harvest which made some of the wines more lean or elegant. The 2002 Chateau d’YQuem (WWB, 96) is a stunning, blockbuster wine. While it may not equal the best vintages of d’YQuem that I have sampled, it is a beguiling wine that shows exceedingly good range, concentration and elegance. Simply put, it is a complete wine.
Roughly ten years ago Chateau d’YQuem began making a Bordeaux blanc style white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. While traveling on my first class flight to Dubai I had the rare chance to try this highly sought after wine, called ‘Ygrec.’ The 2015 Chateau d’YQuem ‘Ygrec’ White Wine (WWB, 97) is a simply astounding bottling that is up there with the best Bordeaux blancs that I have ever sampled. The intensity, viscosity, mouthfeel and range to this wine is insanely good. This gorgeous white wine is meant for the cellar, as I tried it quite young. Learn more about the storied estate at http://yquem.fr/int-en/ Here are the stunning wines that I have recently sampled from Chateau d’YQuem.
2002 Chateau d’YQuem Sauternes- The 2002 Chateau d’YQuem Sauternes is one of the best wines from this challenging vintage in Sauternes. During this growing season ripening was quite uneven as picking lasted from early September to early November. This stunning Sauternes shows an exotic bouquet ranging from bees wax to candied apricot and ripe pineapple to Meyer lemon creme brulee. The beautiful aromatics bring you back to the glass for more hedonistic delight. The palate is plush, viscous and downright decadent. Bananas Foster, fresh ginger creme brûlée and brandy soaked pear flavors all marvelously combine in the glass. Intense and heady, yet elegant, this memorable Sauternes is drinking marvelously right now but still has an exceedingly long life in the cellar. Drink 2018-2035- 96
2015 Chateau d’YQuem ‘Ygrec’ White Wine- The 2015 'Y' from Chateau d’YQuem is a head turning, simply brilliant blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The Sauvignon Blanc is harvested rather early in the growing season to retain its freshness, while the Semillon is given more time to mature and allow botrytis to take effect. The wine itself displays a lovely golden hue, and begins with an exotic bouquet consisting of star jasmine, honeydew melon, starfruit and lemongrass aromatics which all take shape. On the palate this possesses remarkable tension and viscosity, which is truly one of a kind as the mouthfeel takes on a sultry, unctuous character as lemon cream, kumquat, cantaloupe and roasted pineapple flavors all come together beautifully. It continues to impress with its gorgeous seamless quality and balance while showcasing the ripeness and intensity of the vintage. While this is already showing trememdous appeal it should go on to age exceedingly well over the course of the next two plus decades. This is a absolute gem from the legendary Château. Drink 2018-2040- 97