There are few wines that can make yesterday and tomorrow the present and one ́s own physical being disapear. What remains is an empty, space momentarily possessed by the sense of taste so completely and powerfully that the whole of the surrounding world bows to that one perfect sensation. It is
almost impossible to describe that fleeting moment, perhaps because it is not possible to return to it with the help of one ́s thoughts or memories. Or maybe because that moment is so separated from everything else, as if it never existed. The only proof or memory of that moment is the feeling of serenity and entirety it leaves behind. If one could put it in just one word it would be: growth.
The possibility to ”grow” as a human being by tasting wines is a thought worth exploring, and I believe that anyone who has tasted Château d ́Yquem from 1921 will understand what I mean.
The year 1921 is, in my opinion, the best that Sauternes experienced in the last century. Looking at the weather conditions, the year started normally, but from the beginning of March a drought (the rainfall was less than a quarter of normal) and a burning heat starting in June (4°C above average) made the summer the driest and hottest in Yquem for 75 years. Fortunately, August brought along some stormy days, and a new dry and hot period started again in September. The harvest started at Yquem on September 13th and lasted uninterrupted for a fabulous six and a half weeks. The crop was average in quantity but uniquely magnificent in quality.
I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to taste this unforgettable wine as many as six times during the last five years. Four times from a normal size château-bottling, once from a Van der Meulen-bottling, and this one from a rare château-bottled magnum.
The day had already been an unforgettable one, since I had had the pleasure of spending it in New York Soho at the studio of Sandy Skoglund, an artist I greatly admire. After an interesting and thought-provoking day we headed for a long dinner at Le Cirque on Madison Avenue; a restaurant I think is one of the city ́s best and where my friend had made the reservation more than a month earlier. We ended our grand dinner with this big-size Yquem which he had brought along with him.
The bottle was in exceptional condition and recorked in 1978. Level was top-shoulder. Decanted for 2 hours. Very dark, deep gold color, but not as dark as in the earlier normal size bottles. Fresh, vibrant and rich honeyed nose with flavours of crème brulée – pure pleasure. Delicious wine, it’s all there – a hard-to-describe contrast of nectar and the weightlessness is what makes this work. Very creamy, fat and intense wine with a taste of earth and hints of all kinds of baked luscious fruit flavours with some real backbone. Finish is so pure, clean and smooth..... This is what they drink in paradise.
The pleasure derived from tasting Yquem is difficult to describe.
It offers a myriad of well-balanced, complex flavours that generate even more harmonies over time. The impression that remains is reminiscent of a quote from Frédéric Dard "the silence that follows a piece by Mozart, in which the listener remains suffused with the music". This reflects the fact that Château d'Yquem stays on the palate for a remarkable long time, providing a unique, prolonged pleasure. There is a lovely expression in French to describe Yquem's tremendously long aftertaste: il fait la queue du paon, which means that it spreads out like a peacock's tail.
It is always difficult to describe wine-tasting experiences with any precision. The senses of sight, smell, taste and touch are all stimulated virtually at the same time. While gifted tasters can identify some of the aromas and flavours in a glass of Yquem in an effort to define its complexity, they never really succeed in communicating its essence or explaining its mystery. Mere analysis, whether chemical or organoleptic, is not sufficient to account for Yquem's greatness. Yquem tells a unique story... It starts with the bouquet. Although not always very outgoing in young vintages, it is marked by fruit (apricot, mandarin, and occasionally tropical fruit) and oak (vanilla and toasty aromas). Older vintages, on the other hand, have an extraordinarily complex fragrance as soon as the bottle is opened, with hints of dried fruit (dried apricot, prune, stewed fruit, and marmalade), spice (cinnamon, saffron, and liquorice), and even flowers (lime blossom, etc.). The first impression of Château d'Yquem on the palate is always very silky, and often sumptuous. It then fills out, "coating the palate". This fine wine has a strong, but never overbearing character, with great elegance and poise. It always maintains a balance between sugar and acidity (sweetness and freshness). A touch of bitterness can also contribute to the overall harmony. Château d'Yquem's aftertaste is legendary, and it tells another story, which lasts and lasts…
Certain connoisseurs consider it outrageous to drink a young Yquem and believe that opening such a monumental wine before its thirtieth birthday is tantamount to a sacrilege. Others, on the contrary, think that Yquem can be enjoyed at all stages in its life.
Weather was unusual this year, with unrelenting drought conditions. Furthermore, frost during bud break limited the potential crop. 38 mm of rain on the 1st of September were responsible for the propagation of botrytis. The harvest started early and lasted a long time, with potential alcohol varying from 14 to 30°, offering a good reflection of the complexity offered by Yquem's diverse terroir. 1921 Yquem is very rich, and arguably the finest of the 20th century.
Average Bottle Price
|6 739€ +83.6%||3 671€ -52.0%||7 649€ +29.2%||5 922€ +22.0%||4 855€|