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A golden ray of light in the gloom of the Depression - Château d’Yquem 1937
When the New York Stock Exchange crashed, its impact could be felt in France's economy throughout the 1930s. In 1933 the number of people unemployed was a staggering 1,300,000. By 1935 production had declined 20%, stock value 33% and dividends 60%. Even agricultural yields had declined by a third. In 1937 French exports had fallen over 50%, which only served to increase the fears of winemakers, who had already suffered from poor vintages for the entire 1930s. A small ray of light amidst all this despair shone upon the vintners of Sauternes by this magnificent vintage. The year was warm and dry. The Yquem is a perfect example of the outstanding crop harvested in Sauternes. The bottle we opened had been in my cellar for over ten years and it was still in pristine condition.
Decanted for 30 minutes, let breathe in the glass for approximately 30 minutes. The wine’s bright, gilded colour provided a welcome change of pace after so many reds. Extremely fat, full-bodied, with a sweet nose. Strong honey overtones, lively and seductive flavour, which left a pleasantly soft and long-lasting aftertaste on the palate. On the whole, however, perhaps a bit too simple and one-dimensional as a wine. An Yquem with such a wonderful vintage should be more challenging and have a more complex structure. Balanced and well-mannered, but not a glorious wine!
Harvest per hectare is exceptionally small, only 9 hectolitres, which means that the grapes of one vine only yield a single glass of wine. When the time comes to harvest, the Yquem staff swells by some 140 additional people, divided into four teams. They pick over 100 hectares of grapes, selecting only ones that have reached an ideal, botrytised condition. Since the Botrytis Cinerea affects each bunch of grapes in a different way, all the fruit must be harvested in separate waves of picking. On average, harvest will take 5 to 6 of these waves over six weeks. Despite the large cultivation area, the estate’s average annual production is only 90,000 bottles.
By Tb/ Nuikki
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.
Dry, but not excessively hot weather was the pattern throughout the growing season. Rain in mid-September called for going through the vines to remove any berries affected by sour rot. The regular harvest started on the 29th of September and lasted 23 days – a dream harvest without rain and or any interruptions! The crop was greater than average, producing very rich, exceedingly elegant wines thanks to the pure botrytis.
Average Bottle Price
|3 006€ -6.1%||3 200€ +23.6%||2 590€ +2.8%||2 519€ +1.1%||2 491€ +8.8%||2 289€|