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The precious bottle of 1811 Château d’Yquem became the world's most valuable bottle of white wine, after it was sold for £75,000 in 2012.
So whoever is eventually charged with opening it - if Mr Vanneque decides to - will need to be incredibly careful with the delicate drink and hope that they don't drop the cork inside.

The 1811 Chateau d’Yquem has earned its hefty price tag after critics raved about it. The costly tipple is prized as one of the greatest wines in the history of Bordeaux and one of the most supreme vintages ever produced. It was rated the ultimate ‘100 points’ by wine critic Robert Parker and again 100 points by The Wine Spectator's Per-Henrik Mansson in 1999. But the 200-year-old bottle had to go through rigorous checks to establish its huge value.

The bottle was accompanied by a ’record of inspection’ and the label was examined and compared to the 1811 paper labels held in the files at the chateau. An inspection of the glass bottle confirmed that the shape, punt and colour appeared to be in accordance with other examples previously seen from the early vintages of the 19th century. In 1811, the Flaugergues Comet (aka The Great Comet of 1811) passed by the earth. Now 1811 has become the most well known of the so-called 'Comet Vintages.'



The Story

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.


Chateau d`Yquem is often described as the greatest sweet wine in the world. After centuries of family ownership, Yquem was was bought by Louis Vuitton-Moët-Hennessy in 1999. Its former owner and director Alexandre de Lur-Saluce remains in charge. Yquem is located on the highest hill in Sauternes and enjoys the best growing conditions in the whole appellation. The 110-hectare vineyard is planted with 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Only fully botrytized fruit is picked by the 150 highly skilled pickers and yields are so low that each vine produces only one glass of wine. Yquem is fermented in oak barrels (100% new) and is left in barriques to mature for up to 36 months. Intensely opulent when young, Yquem develops an extraordinary complexity and exotic richness when fully mature, with the best vintages lasting for over 50 years. Château d'Yquem is classified as a 1er Cru Classé supérieur.


Average Bottle Price

2015 2012 2005 1995
47 600€ +22.4% 38 900€ +34.6% 28 900€ +76.2% 16 400€

This data comes from the FINE Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions in 20 countries. The average prices from each year have been collected since 1990. This chart plots the index value of the average price of the wines.

Tasting note


Deep and Dark


Endless, Pure and Lingering


Vanilla, Honey, Earthy, Nutty, Buttery and Chocolate


Intense, Complex and Seductive


Perfectly balanced, Concentrated, Multi-dimensional, Mature, Full-bodied, Rich, Fragrant, Medium-Sweet and Silky tannins


Intelligent and Impressive

Written Notes

Wonderful, old bottle with top-shoulder level. Recorked at the Châeau in 1971. Decanted for 15 minutes. Retained its best characteristics for 1 hour after opening. Bottle outwardly in good condition. Wine level top shoulder. Bright golden colour. Surprisingly clear. Rich, full, elegantly flirtatious nose with a wide combination of apricot, fig, nut and sultanas. Honeyey, still vital, velvety smooth, multidimensional wine that left a fantastically smooth and long aftertaste. The balanced and fresh, fruity character made me almost speechless. No amount of superlatives can do justice to this matchless experience. I was emotionally moved by this wine, and sipped every drop of it very sensitively and slowly, as I tried to concentrate my thoughts, but was swept away over and over. A noble and unique experience.
  • 100p

Château d' Yquem 1811 / A quite amazing wine, served blind with 1831, 1911 and 1931 it was the most intense, yet least evolved of the lot. Deep amber with green gold rim. So vibrant and multilayered on the nose, it smelt as though it was just starting to unfold, yet was utterly convincing about the treasures it had yet to give up. Spicy and rich and so, so piercingly clean. Racy, long piercing essence of cream and spice. Very, very powerful, long and complete. After 40 minutes in the glass it took on a hint of rum toffees which is not a flavour I happen to like (c.f. the greater delicacy of the 1847) but that is the only criticism I could possibly muster. This is presumably a one-off and probably deserves an even higher ranking than the 1847. 25 and still a great deal to give. I hope very much to have a chance to taste it again before I die.


  • 100p
Good looking normal size bottle, is in a good condition and has top-shoulder level. Colour is and looking evolved, dark, deep and mature. On the nose it is intense, complex and seductive. The taste is rich, fragrant, and medium-sweet, with silky tannins, full-bodied, with perfectly balanced, concentrated, multi-dimensional structure and mature. On the palate it is layered and has buttery, honey, earthy, nutty, perfumed, vanilla, white fruits and chocolate flavours. The finish is endless, lingering, pure and vibrant. This wine is intelligent and impressive. I paid around 5k€ + a bottle. Perfectly stored bottles are still very worthy and will last well for another 10-15 years and decant at least 45min before tasting.
- (Tasting note created by Tb's AI)
  • 97p
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Sauternes, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality


Value For Money


Investment potential


Fake factory


Glass time


Inside Information

Wine Advocate #103
Feb 1996
Robert M. Parker, Jr. 100 Drink: N/A  
What is so remarkable about this series of wines is that the 1811 and 1847 Yquems are the two greatest Yquems I have ever tasted, eclipsing my Yquem reference point, the 1921. Both were unctuous, thick, extraordinarily complex wines with remarkable quantities of botrytised, honeyed fruit that dominated their aromatics and flavors. As with all of these ancient vintages, the bottles were authenticated by Christie's Michael Broadbent. The 1811 Yquem, with its dark gold color, awesomely intense, sweet nose, unctuous, thick, fabulous flavor extraction, pinpoint precision, and a finish that lasted a minute or more, is the kind of wine on which Yquem's reputation is based. It was liquified Creme Brulee - an astonishing wine. Remember, this was the famous "year of the comet" vintage. (Incidentally, readers looking for a few good chuckles should rent the movie video, Year of the Comet, a wine-dominated comedy that I highly recommend.) Longtime readers know I am a fruit fanatic, and if a wine does not retain this essential component, it is not going to receive a satisfactory review.

The notes for this wine are taken from the description of Series V - Flight D of the 1995 tasting conducted in Munich by Helga and Hardy Rodenstock. Many years after the tasting from which this note derives allegations were made concerning the authenticity of old and rare bottles of wine sold by Hardy Rodenstock to collectors around the world. The matter has been the subject of numerous articles, litigation and at least one book. Mr. Parker believes that the wines served to him at this tasting were authentic so this note and the others from that specific tasting continue to be posted on eRobertParker.com.
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