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Chateau d'Yquem tasting with Comte Alexandre de Lur Saluces

On May 12, 2003, Wine Warehouse hosted a showcase wine event featuring a formal tasting of Chateau d'Yquem wines with proprietor Comte Alexandre de Lur Saluces. The tasting was held at the California Club in downtown Los Angeles. Prior to tasting various vintages of this golden nectar, the Count Lur Saluces spoke a little about the fascinating history of Chateau d'Yquem in the Sauternes region of Bordeaux.  In 1593, the Sauvage family bought this estate which came into the Lur Saluces patrimony when Francoise Josephine de Sauvage married Count Louis Amedee de Lur Saluces in 1785.

The General Manager of Chateau d'Yquem, Mr. Aymeric de Monthault, joined Count de Lur Saluces for the tasting and gave our group technical information about each vintage.  Here are the wines we tasted (all wines are currently available through Red Carpet on a pre-sale basis):

2000 "Y" (pronounced Ygrec) Dry White, Bordeaux Supérieur ($164.81/750ml)
The color is light yellow with a hint of gold. On the nose the wine is reminiscent of sweet Sauternes with apricots, honey, mint, spices, oak, earthy-minerals, and mild peaches. The taste is dry and richly concentrated with peaches, apricots, pears, oak, bay leaf, spices, earthy-clay, and a solid backbone of acidity.

This dry white wine is made from estate grapes not affected much by botrytis (if at all). It is not entitled to the appellation of Sauternes because it is dry. The Y label was first introduced with the 1959 vintage and to date has only been released in a total of 21 vintages: 1959, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1994, 1996, and 2000.  Ygrec is one of the rarest and priciest dry white Bordeaux wines produced.  The 2000 is being offered on a futures basis with delivery expected in August 2003.  Comte Alexandre de Lur Saluces stated that he prefers this wine while it is young even if many other people extensively cellar these wines and enjoy them fully mature.  The blend is approximately 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon.

1994 Chateau d'Yquem, Sauternes ($192.84/750ml)
Golden orange color. Richly concentrated bouquet of apricots, peaches, honey, oak, earth, bay leaf and other spices. On the palate the wine is super sweet with stone fruits, bay leaf, spices, oak, and earth. Rich body. 122 grams residual sugar per liter.

The Comte described 1994 as a very difficult vintage in which harvesting was completed on October 14th.  The wine is made mostly from Semillon grapes plots grown on clay soil.

1995 Chateau d'Yquem, Sauternes ($211.36/750ml)
Golden orange color. The bouquet is ever so slightly closed (as compared to my 3 previous tastings of this vintage): still concentrated fruit with peaches dominant, honey, mint and other spices, caramel, oak, and mild earth.  The taste is super sweet with concentrated apricots, peaches, mint, spices, honey, mild caramel, and earth. 133 grams residual sugar per liter.

A warm vintage was concluded with an "Indian Summer" and the harvest started on September 22nd.  During the last 3 days of harvest the sugar levels were so high that there was 28-30% alcohol potential, if the wine had been fermented dry.

1997 Chateau d'Yquem, Sauternes ($287.72/750ml)
"Seven must have something to do with perfection. 1937, 1947, and 1967 have all been great!"  Golden color. The nose is richly concentrated with flora, apricots, peaches, mint, moist stones, oak, honey, mild forest underbrush, and roast caramel toffee. The super-sweet taste is rich in honey, peaches, apricots, spices, bay leaf, toasty oak, strawberries, and earth.  Very concentrated texture, a classic vintage. 120 grams residual sugar per liter.

Drought conditions throughout much of the vintage with slow botrytis development.  Eight picking waves were conducted during the harvest which took place between September 4th and November 4th.

1986 Chateau d'Yquem, Sauternes ($365.31/750ml) 98 RP
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.

100 grams residual sugar per liter. Good spring, perfect summer, mild rain in September and a classic harvest with early fog.  Six waves of picking commenced during harvest between October 6th and November 10th. The 1986 is being offered on a futures basis with delivery expected in August 2003.

Also available from Red Carpet on a pre-order basis:

1993 Chateau d'Yquem, Sauternes ($205.71/750ml)
1996 Chateau d'Yquem, Sauternes ($198.17/750ml)




Comte Alexandre de Lur Saluces
of Chateau d'Yquem


Painting of Chateau d'Yquem


The Chateau at Yquem




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